Some Days are Better Than Others

What is life like living with a bunch of animals?  Well, some days are better than others.

Prior to waking up this morning, I was awakened by a cat retching, most likely MoonShadow.  Not that it is an unusual occurrance when you live with nine Ragdolls.  Of course, by the time I got up, I’d forgotten about it.  I remembered, ‘oh there must be some puke somewhere here’, just as I stepped in it.  Those socks went into the wash.  We have no wall to wall carpet in our house.  When you breed cats and have kittens and nine adult cats around, you find that laminate and vinyl floors are far easier to keep clean.  And they do make very nice vinyl floors now, that look like wood.  But we do have area rugs scattered around.  Did the upchucking, early morning cat deposit on the floor??  Noooo.  Right on the rug.  So prior to doing anything else, I was cleaning up the rug.  Thank goodness for Resolve carpet spray and paper towels.

MoonShadow looking innocent.

MoonShadow looking innocent.

A short while later, as I walked downstairs and through the living room in the early morning dusk, I thought one of the flowers on the rug looked a little darker than the rest.  Once I put the lights on, I found another puke and this one was full of hay.  Teddy Bear had just come in after going out for morning business, and saw me looking at the dark thing on the rug.  I swear he looked guilty.  Since Luna, the collie, is crated, and cats don’t eat hay while they troll for duck food in the barn, the culprit was certainly Ted.  So more Resolve was used and more paper towels.  (I have to do this kind of thing frequently enough that I always keep a bottle of Resolve on both floors.)

That duck food was yummy

That duck food was yummy

All this happened before I had my tea.

After doing the alpaca chores – and yes, we do have to clean up poop while doing that – I came back in and let Rusty, my stud cat, out for exercise.  Rusty, being intact, lives in a large enclosure in our family room, as he will spray around if left to his own devices.  He is so hot to trot that he will also mount any other cat, no matter whether boy or girl, young or old, spayed or not.  As a result, he is only allowed out into the family room, wearing his stud pants to keep him from spraying on the furniture.  Well didn’t he decide to have diarrhea in his pants.  Poor guy hates when that happens and immediately wants back into the enclosure and his pants removed.  I then had to clean up the pants, dunking them in the toilet a few times like my mother used to do with soiled cloth baby diapers.  Then into the sink they go, with Tide, to be cleaned.  I may never have had children, but I’m still very familiar with diapers, er, I mean ‘stud pants’.  Rusty has never let me clean him up, but prefers to do it himself, and thank goodness, he does a good job of it.  (I’m so glad I’m not a cat…)

Rusty in his stud pants.

Rusty in his stud pants.

Oh well, such is life with animals…

Winter Came Early – Poor Caraz

The past two days have been as cold as January, and it is only late November.  When you have animals, you always worry about the cold, especially when it comes early.   We don’t usually worry too much about the alpacas, as they seem to handle cold better than heat.  But the wind was howling yesterday, and even with all their fleece, they try to stay out of the wind.  (It was blowing 117 mph on top of Mount Washington!)

We do worry, however, about our oldest girl, Caraz.  She was an import from Australia, so had no papers.  She came with a registered name of ‘Caraz Tag 65 IMP98’.  The yellow tag with the number 65 did eventually break away, but she has lots of holes in her ears, indicating that she perhaps had been imported into Australia from Peru.  They just estimated her birth year at 1995, either before or in 1998 when she came to the U.S.  So we aren’t sure if ’95 was accurate.  She may be 18, or she may be older.  She is very thin, as many alpacas are when they are old.  She always has been on the thin side, so didn’t have much to lose in the first place.  As a result, she does get cold and last year we put a coat on her and left it on until at least March.

Caraz in 2007 when she was 12 or maybe 13 or 14..

Caraz in 2007 when she was 12 or maybe 13 or 14..

We put the coat back on her Saturday evening when we knew the temperatures were going to drop.  Caraz is not a nice girl.  Like many alpacas imported from other countries, she was probably not handled until she got here, and it shows.  I hold her and Dick puts the coat on, fastening the two girths and the overlapping chest flaps.  She spits, and Dick hisses, ‘you bitch!’.  Of all our alpacas, Caraz is the most voracious spitter, though she never spits directly at us.  Back when she was breeding, we’d bring her to the male to check that she was pregnant.  Most females will run away when they aren’t receptive, and only spit when he pursues.  But Caraz would immediately hurl gobs of green cud right at the male.  I would be holding the lead rope of the guy, and both of us would be ducking like mad.  The male got the idea very quickly and wanted nothing more to do with her!

Caraz did not make very many babies for us, and only one was a girl.  I think she made most of her daughters back in Australia and at her first home in Massachusetts.  We did sell that beige daughter, Valeri, but kept Val’s daughter, Oh Susannah.

Susannah, fawn like her grandmother Caraz.

Susannah, fawn like her grandmother Caraz.

Both Valeri and Susannah had touchy temperments like Caraz.  Even at her new home, Valeri remained a grouchy girl.  Susannah is very nervous and will spit whenever we handle her, as well.  All of this made us reluctant to breed her, so she has only had one cria.  We bred her to our gray herdsire, Galaxy, who is very calm and shy, and who barely ever gets upset at anyone.  The result was a dark silver gray daughter, Suite Judy Blue Eyes, who is MUCH nicer than her great-grandmother, grandmother, or mother.  Yay.  She, like the rest of the family, does have nice fiber, and surprisingly, it isn’t fawn!

Judy, in full fleece.

Judy, in full fleece.

Even though Caraz stopped producing babies for us years ago, she has always contributed nice fiber.  Even at her age, I still blend it with MoonDance’s fleece, to make yarn, and it is very nice.  Her two sons, one of which still lives here, both continue to make very nice yarn.  The sons are both white, both quite shy, but not grouchy like their mother.  The Boss, who we kept, makes some of the nicest yarn on the farm, and continues to remain fine as he gets older.  I have been known to grab his yarn as soon as it comes in from the mill so I can keep it for myself.

The Boss, with ears hidden.

The Boss, with ears hidden.

Caraz is still a dominant female, so we know she gets all she wants to eat.  Hopefully her purple coat will help her make it through the winter.  Not that Dick will mourn her when she goes…

 

 

 

Pet Food Trials

I have always had one basic rule for the pet food I buy for my cats and dogs.  I want meat to be the first ingredient.  For a long time, I fed Purina One, as it always had meat as the first ingredient.  The cats got Fancy Feast as their canned food and the dogs got Purina One.  It was never recalled while I used it and most of the pets liked it.  But…

Last year, I got concerned over MoonShadow, my older retired queen, upchucking regularly and wondered if a new dry food would help her, as well as help Rusty and Max, who had very soft stools.  My kittens also usually had soft stools too.  So I switched the Ragdolls to a premium brand, Royal Canin, which was recommended by another breeder and the guy at our farm store.  At the time I went to it, the first ingredient in the various varieties was ‘chicken meal’ or ‘poultry meal’, which is the meat with the moisture removed.  Almost everyone liked it.  Moonie seemed to upcheck less, Rusty got more healthy stools, though Max stayed the same.  The kittens however, had solid stools, so I was happy with it.  But this Fall I noticed that more of my cats disliked it.  Royal Canin started making a Ragdoll Formula, so I added that and another variety to the Indoor mix, in hopes that they would like it better.  Moonie started to upchuck more, and Rusty got bad stools again.  A number of the cats seemed to have lost quality in their coats, as well.

MoonShadow in a basket

MoonShadow in a basket

Where do you go when you need more information on the contents of pet food?  The internet, of course.  It told me that Royal Canin had changed its formulas, which I hadn’t realized.  The first ingredient was now ‘chicken by-product meal’, and in the kitten kibble, the first ingredient was rice!  Now I don’t have any real problem with ‘by-products’.  Some of them are good for pets.  But they are cheap sources of protein, as are ‘corn gluten’ and ‘wheat gluten’.  Royal Canin is NOT cheap, and the Ragdoll variety is more expensive than their other varieties.  Most pet food sold in grocery stores have these inexpensive contents, and folks who can’t afford high-priced pet food can feed them to their pets and know they are a complete diet.  When I was young, my three cats ate Meow Mix and Nine Lives and they lived to great old ages of 17 and 18 on these foods.  But I don’t like paying top dollar for cheap ingredients.

I found out on the internet that by-products include the viscera of animals, including fetuses and feces.  Yukky as they sound, when a cat eats a mouse, or a wolf eats a deer, they get all those yukky insides and gobble them up.  And yes, Teddy Bear eats duck poop and alpaca poop on a regular basis.  But we yell at him when he does, and I certainly don’t really want to pay for them.  I know that in pet food, the amount of feces is very small, and probably bacteria-free from cooking, but still…

Since I’m willing to pay more for good pet food, I searched out other premium brands and found a number that did not contain ‘by-products’.  None of my pets appear to have allergies to wheat or corn, but since their gluten is cheap, I opted to pay for better carbohydrates.  I am now in the process of switching both cats and dogs to Blue Buffalo dry food.  I loved the convenience of buying food at the grocery store, or having Chewy.com send me the Royal Canin, but my local pet store, Four Your Paws Only, had the varieties of Blue that I wanted and at the same price as Chewy.  Everyone seems to like it, which wasn’t true of the Fromm that I first went to.

Rusty even likes the Blue

Rusty even likes the Blue

I still feed some Fancy Feast canned food to my cats, as that is their favorite.  I see no point in paying top price for canned food they won’t eat.  They do get Wellness and Blue Wilderness cans, but some refuse to eat them.  I can only deduce that they like the by-products in those Fancy Feast cans!  Time will tell if their coats get better and the poops get firmer from eating the Blue Buffalo dry food.  Though a lot of the cats like the Royal Canin kitten kibble, I will be transitioning them to the Blue kitten kibble, though there are three varieties to choose from, so that will be interesting.  Even the Purina One kitten kibble had meat as the first ingredient!!  We’ll see if they do well on the Blue.  I’d hate to have to go through transitioning them to yet another brand. Sigh,  it is all such a trial…

Maxie, the big boy, lounging on the cat tree.

Maxie, the big boy, lounging on the cat tree.

Winter is knockin’ at the door

Our beautiful warm Fall weather had to end sometime.  Earlier this week we got a hard freeze and the gardens had to finally give it up.  Luckily, I’d cut the floribundi roses, who just love to bud up in the Fall, and brought the buds inside where they could bloom.  The kitchen smelled so good!

Roses blooming in the house

Roses blooming in the house

It is the time of year when we have to decide each morning, what to wear to the barn to do chores.  Which coat, which gloves; do we need a hat?  I refuse to put on the ski mittens yet, but my hands have frozen all week with regular gloves.  There is something about handling implements – shovel, rake – that makes things worse.  Then I found out from my nurse practitioner that my thyroid is under performing even with the meds I’m taking.  That may explain the intolerance to cold this early in the season.  Yay!  (Who is happy when they hear something is malfunctioning?  Me.  Because it can be treated.)  I have always had trouble with my hands freezing in mid-winter, but late October is too early.  I have found a great way to keep them warm then too.  I use the hand warmers that I used to use when skiing.  After chores, I put them in a ziplock sandwich bag and close tightly.  This seems to shut them off and they last about four more mornings.  Every year, Dick gets me the most high tech ski mittens he can find, but they are never enough.  Thank goodness we live near ski resorts, because it is easy to find warm clothes to wear to the barn.  And ski clothes are slick enough that hay doesn’t stick to them, either.  Ah, the joys of winter to come.  We are keeping an eye on our old girl Caraz, who is thin, and will probably need a coat too.  At 18+, her fleece doesn’t quite do enough and the coat adds to it.

Caraz with her coat on last winter

Caraz with her coat on last winter

We’ve had November weather lately even though it was still October.  Clouds and raw wind for days.  But on Tuesday, Mount Washington was out.  No, we can’t see it from our farm, but driving down Rte 153 and West Side Rd, we got a great view of it’s shining white, snow-covered top.  Yes, we were driving to the vet’s again with Starman for his weekly check up.  Today, Mount Washington was again hidden, and I was on that road again, this time with Teddy Bear.  Ted was having his annual appointment, but also needed some porcupine quills removed from his chin.  Quite the time, they had, with getting him to hold still.  Finally, with the help of some drugs, about eight quills came out.  He’s still sleeping off the drugs, cuddled up on his bed in the family room…

Teddy Bear on a better day

Teddy Bear on a better day

Teddy has decided to take over for Biff, our livestock guard, who passed in September.  Teddy Bear is a Great Pyrenees mix, who came to us via Big Fluffy Dog Rescue.  He used to like it in the house and slept with us in our bedroom, but for the past few weeks he has chosen to sleep on his bed on the front porch and to bark whenever he hears anything.  We hear the bark and the clatter of him bolting off the porch in pursuit of whatever.  Apparently, he runs out into the woods to investigate, hence the quills in his chin…

We’re happy, though, that he does this, as we were worrying about predators without the intrepid Biff.

Biff the Akbash Dog

Biff the Akbash Dog

We really miss you, Biffie dog.

 

Why we are alpaca farmers

There’s been some Facebook posts that got me thinking.  They were mainly about the industry’s problems, farms dispersing their herds, and the economic problems with our two main alpaca organizations.  A lot of negative vibes are out there, for sure.  But it got me thinking about what we are doing and what is really important to me, in particular, about alpaca farming.

In 2000, we decided to buy a farm in the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire.  We got into it in earnest in 2001, and knew nothing much about alpacas or about their fiber.  I wanted a farm and wanted animals that could, at least, contribute something to the farm.  Initially, we looked at goats, but thank goodness we found alpacas instead.  I caught alpaca fever and it didn’t matter a whit to me if we made money or not.  Since the prices were sky high back then, it should have mattered, but I just considered it the cost of buying the farm.  Fortunately, we were able to make the money back that we invested, but selling was never something we were very good at.  I think we just didn’t care enough to spend the money required for good marketing.  Since the alpacas were not our sole source of income, the pressure was off.  I just wanted to have the FARM!

View of the back field

View of the back fields

Since college days in the hills of western Massachusetts, I’d always dreamed of having a place with rolling green fields and tall trees.  To have a beautiful animal in those fields was icing on the cake.  During those college days, I had crocheted a lot – for me and for gifts for my family.  I remember a purple pair of crocheted hot pants and vest that I wore with purple tights underneath.  Me and my waist-length hair and long legs – I must have been a sight.  Over the years I forgot about crocheting.  But the alpacas brought all that back.  I learned to spin and fell back in love with yarn.  I found out about the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool early on, and fell in love with alpaca socks, as did a lot of my customers who still come back to us every year for them.

Our barn from the road

Our barn from the road

Now when I get the yarn back from the mill (they spin it much faster than I ever could), it is like Christmas.  I open each bag and pull out the skeins and say to Dick, ‘Oh look at this from Caraz and Moondance (or whoever else), isn’t it so soft? Feel it!’  Even skirting the fleeces is a pleasure, once I get going.  It’s like putting your hands in clouds.  Dying the yarn is playtime.  I love figuring out what colors I want to make and which ones will sell the best.  My customers seem to love the colors too, and I have trouble not scarfing some of it into my private stash, when I know it will sell well and will be gone.  I am loving crochet again and am making stuff for both myself and customers.  It is all good!  Well, except for shearing time, but then, that is a necessary trial that we make as easy on ourselves as possible.  And once it is over, the ‘clouds’ are here again to skirt and make into that wonderful yarn!  Okay, so some if it goes to the pool, but the stuff that comes of that is great too.  Fairs, Shows, Open Farm Days, are all fun, even if we do get tired!  Do you get the picture of why we are an alpaca farm?

Alpacas are the perfect livestock for us.  They are so gentle and sweet.  They don’t need a farrier.  They poop in communal piles, which are super easy to clean.  They are gentle on the land.  They keep the fields eaten down.  Their babies are totally adorable.

Our farmland was all open in the 1940’s but many of the fields had grown up into young forest.  We have been able to bring back the fields that were here back then, with the help of the alpacas and the NRCS.  Our neighbors love that it is back, as does the town in general.  We have not made a ton of money on the alpacas, but their luxurious fiber  pays much of their upkeep.

Some people think of alpacas as livestock, which they are, but I think of them a bit like I think of horses.  They are beautiful animals who give me pleasure to be around.  I can’t imagine my life without them in it.

Molly and Spring on the Farm

Molly and Spring on the Farm. (Her cover was always a bit crooked…)

 

 

The road most taken…

With all the animals we have, the road to the vet’s office is well traveled.  The alpacas are quite healthy, overall.  Some years, the only vet care they get is the annual farm visit to do rabies shots.  The cats are another story, as litters need vaccinations and spaying and neutering, and all the adults need their annual vet visit.

But this year the road has been traveled more than the norm.  Starman has made that trip more times in the past few months than during the whole rest of his life.  We had another follow-up appointment for him yesterday to check on the cheek abscess.

But prior to that, I was there for Angel Baby.  She’s my five month old Ragdoll kitten who I kept from Dorie Jo’s litter.  Monday night, she refused her supper, which is totally unlike her.  She’s a chow hound who normally eats all of her dish and moves on to eat one of the adult’s leftovers.  After refusing her food, she went to the top of the cat tree and curled up there for the rest of the night.  When I went over to check her out, I saw the third eyelid was up a tad in one of her eyes.  That is a tell-tale sign of illness.  Tuesday morning, I immediately looked for her and found her hunched up on the top step of the cellar stairs.  When I picked her up to bring her into the kitchen, she felt very hot.  Poor baby was so listless and just hunched up where I put her on the chair under the tablecloth.  Down the familiar road we went a few minutes after 8:00 AM and they kept her for the morning.

Angel when she was a bit younger

Angel when she was a bit younger

She had a temp of 105 (cats’ normal temp is 101) but blood tests and an xray showed nothing out of the norm.  They did send more blood out to be tested further, but I haven’t had the results yet.  She came home with Doxycycline, to be crushed into food, and after one dose (mixed with meat baby food, as she wasn’t eating canned food yet) she perked up and started eating again the next day.  Yesterday, she was still lethargic, but today she’s bouncing around like her old kitten self.  The blood test was very expensive, and though I don’t want it to show anything serious, I hope it shows something to make it worth the price!!!

When we brought Starman in on Wednesday, the vet techs joked that we needed to move next door.  Dick said we ought to have a Foss Mountain Farm wing on the hospital.  Starman is definitely improving.  They poked his cheek again with a syringe to see what would come out, and there was none of the gross cottage cheese stuff.  It was just some watery blood.  But we will continue the Pen G shots for a third week and then hope it won’t recur.  He’s been such a good boy about all the stuff he’s had to endure and even seems to have gotten used to the shots.  We put Galaxy in the area with him, since Galaxy didn’t seem to be getting his fair share of food with the others.  The two are getting along so well, and Galaxy is chowing.  After the shot, they both get a bowl of Alfa Supreme chopped alfalfa.  Galaxy needs some bulking up, and since Starman is fighting an infection, we figured the extra food won’t hurt him, either.  Starman no longer needs the flushing and the drain openings will heal up, hopefully.  We still put the warm facecloth on his cheek to help keep the wounds clean and help to remove the hay that gets stuck in the scab.

Thank goodness it was Starman who had the problem rather than a number of the others.  I don’t think any of the others would have been so nice.  Well, maybe Galaxy…

Galaxy

Galaxy

Starman. Fleece hid any swelling he had at that time.

Starman. Fleece hid any swelling he had at that time.

 

 

Show Musings

I am ambivalent about alpaca shows.  Who wants to be judged?  But they are so much fun socially.  You get to see people that you have known for years, but only see at alpaca shows.  This show in Vermont is very competitive in both the halter show and the fleece show.  There are a number of what I call ‘the big money farms’ who attend, which are farms that invested a whole lot of money into their stock and who have very high-end alpacas as a result.  It is very hard for more modest farms (like us) to compete with them.  As a result, it is difficult to place anywhere near the top of the classes.  A farm like ours, which is as much a fiber farm as a breeding farm, just doesn’t have the high-end alpacas that can place at the top of classes where the big money farms have entries.  It used to be that most of those farms were in the white and light classes, but now more and more of them are in the darker color classes too.    So we modest farms fight for the fifth and sixth place ribbons in most of the classes, and the high-end alpacas on the same few farms get all the first place and championships.  It can be very discouraging unless you adjust your expectations.  But to not attend the show means you miss all the fun socializing!

Mary in the ring with Max.

Mary in the ring with Max.

We were happy that we got any ribbons, and thrilled with the blue ribbon that Cracklin Rosie got in the fleece show.  That was her second blue ribbon in fleece at this show, as she’d won the juvenile class last year and won again in the yearling class this year.  Judy Blue got a fourth in her small halter class and Molly got a fifth in her halter class with more entries.

Cracklin' Rosie's blue ribbon fleece

Cracklin’ Rosie’s blue ribbon fleece

Dick, who isn’t all that interested in shows, thought we might as well not bother attending next year, but I want to go!  We’ll have our appaloosa girl, Pennies from Heaven, who is showing great fleece qualities already.  As long as her conformation is ok, I’d want to show her.  There is unlikely to be much competition, as the multi color classes are small, but we’d still hear what the judges had to say.  And we’d get to socialize!!

Pennies From Heaven at 3 months old.

Pennies From Heaven at 3 months old.

And geez, they have to have animals who take the 5th and 6th place ribbons and/or walk out of the ring without placing, don’t they?

Next event: Cat Show on November 9th and 10th for Blaze of Glory.  Another bout of being judged…  It is a whole different ballgame at a cat show, but the fun socializing is the same – a whole weekend to talk ‘cats’!

Blaze lounging at 5 months old.

Blaze lounging at 5 months old.

 

 

Show Prep

For the past few days I have been prepping for the Green Mountain Fall Spectacular Alpaca Show.  This show is really two shows in one.  There is a halter show, where the animal itself is judged – 50% on fleece and 50% on conformation.  There is also a fleece show, where just the animal’s shorn blanket fleece is judged.  To get ready for the show, the fleece needs to be skirted and the animal needs to be trained.  We were doing both this week.

Skirting fleeces for sending to the mill for yarn, or to the pool for products, is a quick job.  Skirting for show is another matter.  The term skirting apparently came from the sheep world, and just means that you go around the edges of the fleece and take away dirty, irregular fleece.  An alpaca’s blanket is the fleece starting at the base of the neck, over the back, down the sides and to the rump.  The edges of it are adjacent to belly, neck and rump fiber, which usually is coarser and different in appearance from the rest of the blanket.  Depending on how it is shorn, there can be some of the belly, neck and rump fiber on the edges of the blanket and it needs to come off.  Also, we take out any bits of hay or, ick, poop, that may be stuck in the fiber.  At any rate, it takes awhile to do this.  Then we roll it, cut side out, and put it in a plastic bag.  The cut side is the inside of the fleece and is cleaner than the tips.  You want to make the best first impression to the judge!  This is all done on a skirting table, which is, in my case, a rectangular screen set over a long card table with newspaper laid on it.  As the fleece lays on the screen, as you shake the fleece a bit, the dirt falls below onto the table.

Skirting Table with Cracklin's fleece on it.

Skirting Table with Cracklin’s fleece on it.

(If you look closely, you’ll see Rusty lounging on his cat tree in the background.  When he is out of his enclosure, he’s supposed to exercise, but he just likes to lounge.)

After skirting four fleeces, we went over to Mary’s farm to help with training the two alpacas we co-own with her (Vanilla Moon and Summer Breeze).  They were getting a little better, but still not quite getting the idea of walking beside us.  Luckily, they improve a little every time and hopefully, will be intimidated enough at the show site to cooperate fully.  Either that, or they will totally balk!  Since Molly and Judy have been to the two Fairs, they will probably take it in stride.  Maybe the other three – Vanilla Moon, Summer Breeze and Max will just follow suit.

On another subject altogether, there has been a lot of attention given to our North Conway of late.  Over a week ago, a teen named Abigail Hernandez left Kennett High School to walk home and never got there.  Her normal path home took her down North South Rd, but that is edged on the east by a huge area of conservation land, an old abandoned quarry and a wildlife refuge.  After eight days, they don’t seem to know much about where she might be, where she actually went that afternoon, nor if anyone else might be involved with her disappearance.  They have now offered a dollar reward for information.  She turned fifteen while she was missing.  Dick mountain bikes through that land and says there are hundreds of trails and thousands of acres.  They’ve searched every day, but with a tract of land so big, it would be like finding a needle in a haystack.  And nobody knows if she even really went into that wilderness.  So sad and scary…

Sandwich Fair

We spent the Columbus Day Weekend at the Sandwich NH Fair.  It is quite different than Fryeburg, as it is much smaller.  At Fryeburg we have our own barn, but at Sandwich we share with other ruminants.  We have a stall for the animals and a nice area to set up tables to sell alpaca products.

We are in the Sheep Building, with goats...

We are in the Sheep Building, with goats…

There was a goat show going on, so most of the goat breeders were at the ring.  We had LaMancha goats across from us, and seeing no one else to ask, the fair-goers asked us about them.  “Why do they crop their ears?”, they’d ask, with a rather horrified look.  “They are born that way, they are not cropped”, I say.  “Why?” (for cryin’ out loud, how do I know?).  “Because that is their breed.  They are LaManchas”, I say blithely.  That always seemed to satisfy them.

LaMancha Goats - 'Lovely LaManchas'

LaMancha Goats – ‘Lovely LaManchas’

We brought Judy Blue Eyes and Cracklin Rosie on Saturday and since we take them home each night, we were able to swap Cracklin for Molly on Sunday.  Judy and Molly are going to the show in Vermont together, so I figured they’d best get used to being together.  They did okay, and my sign asking for people not to touch seemed to work.

It was very cold both days, so sales of hats, gloves, mittens and socks were brisk.  Yay!  Our barn is next to the Cow barn and this year there were Scottish Highlander cattle there.  I’d only seen them in Scotland, so was thrilled to get a good look.  I had a chance to pat the calf, and, man, her coat was silky.  Don’t know if anyone ever spins it, but they could, I bet.

Young Highlander all spiffed up for show.

Young Highlander all spiffed up for show.

Sandwich Fair is a very old Fair and the last one of the season.  We always enjoy it, but it is tiring, just the same.

The girls relaxing in their pen.

The girls relaxing in their pen.

After the fair each night of the weekend, when we got home, we set up a strong light in Starman’s stall and flushed out his abscessed cheek.  He was actually very good about it, considering.  But he continues to be hard to inject.  He just hates it.  Today, Monday, we took him to the vet’s to have the drain removed.  Megan gave him his Pen G and a Banamine shot and even she had trouble.  Made me feel better!  We have another week of Pen G, but he does look better and is eating better.  He has an enlarged mandible bone and there is still puffiness, but we’re hoping the worst is over.

 

 

Starman’s Abscess Treatment

We brought Starman to the vet’s office today, October 10th, so that they could attempt to drain the lump on his face.

Starman looking out of the trailer at the vet's office

Starman looking out of the trailer at the vet’s office

It had cultured, finally, as a bacterial infection, and we had started him on Pen G yesterday.  Today Dr Rachel was going to open the abscessed lump and try to get it to drain.  Megan gave him a shot in the trailer to sedate him.  (Did I mention he hates shots?)  It took two, but he got so he stopped complaining when Megan touched his rump, so we figured he was relaxed enough to bring him in.  He calmly walked through the front door and into the waiting room.  The people there were quite amazed to see a large alpaca stroll through.  He went right through an examining room and into the back where they do surgery.  Then it was time to numb his face so the incisions could be made.  Poor boy did very well.  I don’t think I ever want to eat cottage cheese again, though, after seeing what Dr. Rachel squeezed out of his cheek.  To keep the incisions open for drainage, she put in a tube, and put two little stitches in to hold it.  Megan gave him two more shots, Pen G and Banamine, and he was ready to go.  Back to the trailer he went – this time out the back door – onto the trailer and on down the West Side Road towards home.  Now it is our turn to daily squeeze out the ‘schmoo’, as Rachel calls it.  (Yeah, a technical veterinary term…)

Starman_drainIn_1013sm

We put him in the back section of the barn, with just a gate separating him from the girls.  His buddies are outside the back door and Starm can go outside in a little run if he wants to see them.  We need to keep him contained, so we can catch him, and we don’t want any of the others to mess with his tubing!  But since alpacas are very nervous if alone, we wanted him to feel like he was still part of the herd.  If he acts stressed tomorrow, we will try putting his brother Rocket Man in with him, but I’m hoping he’ll be okay by himself.

We start our flushing and squeezing tomorrow.  Unfortunately, he won’t be sedated, nor will his face be numb.  Since he weighs 200 lbs, he isn’t the easiest to control when he doesn’t want us to do something, but we’ll have to try our best.  Wish us luck.