A lot around the farm has changed in the past five years. But we are still here, with alpacas, Ragdolls and dogs. However, some of the crew are different now. Here’s a few of the changes.
The alpacas are aging and our herd is now down to twenty. That does seem like a lot, but we did get up to thirty-two or so, a few years back. The oldest, Phoenix, is over nineteen years old and the youngest is six years old. They don’t all live to Phoenix’s advanced age, and generally we don’t know what causes their deaths. Alpaca veterinarians are rare and the knowledge base is meager in a lot of places, including where we live. But they are still producing fleece for yarn and the fiber pool, and we are still selling alpaca products to pay for their keep.
As for dogs, we still have two. Teddy Bear, our big boy from Big Fluffy Dog Rescue, had a shocking interaction with a porcupine. A rare situation occurred where a quill went into Teddy’s chest and got into his lungs. The surgery to retrieve it is risky and not guaranteed and the recovery is painful. We opted not to put him through it. He was about 9 or 10 years old, which is elderly for a Great Pyrenees.
Luna, our faithful rough collie, was lonesome without Teddy (though she wasn’t always that nice to him), so we went back to Big Fluffy Dog Rescue and adopted what we thought was a Great Pyrenees/Collie mix. His name was Shelton, presumably taken from the singer Blake Shelton, and Dick immediately started calling him ‘Sheldon’, as in Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory. Shelton is far more like the singer than the character in the sit-com. But he answers to both names, so all is well.
Shelton does not look, to me anyway, like a Great Pyrenees, except that he is BIG. But when I watched him move, his back leg movement reminded me of a German Shepherd Dog. His coloring is similar to a sable collie, but that is where the collie similarity ends. We decided to do the dna test for him like we’d done for Teddy Bear. I have a good eye. It came back 40% German Shepherd Dog, 40% Great Pyrenees and the rest ‘herding dog’. Okay, so I don’t have a good eye for the Pyr part.
There has also been changes to the Ragdoll crew. Keziah retired and went to a wonderful new home. She just didn’t like living in a multi-cat household and showed it by using the whole house as a litter box. She went to her new home as an only cat, with the understanding that she would come back if her behavior didn’t change. And once in a home with no other cats, she became the perfect pet. (Yay!!) The female breeding set is now Cassadee and Jolene; both named after country singers/songs, as are all of them. Cowboy Casanova remains as our daddy cat. Shakira will soon retire at seven years old. It’s hard to retire a stunning girl like her, who has the most awesome kittens. All of them are poster children for the Ragdoll breed. She doesn’t mind living with all the other cats, so will remain with me as a pet after she is spayed.
I know that some folks wonder why we continue doing this at our age. Dick is 75 and I am soon to be 70. In fact, I think Dick wonders why I ever did the cat thing in the first place, him being more of a dog person. But it keeps us active and we both still love looking out over the pastures and seeing the alpacas peacefully grazing. And I still love sharing the beautiful Ragdoll kittens with cat-loving people.