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Monday, September 19, 2011

Back in Austria

Now that I am back in Austria it is hard to keep up with all the details that have happened in the short time that I have been back. On August 8th El Bello’s Zuza (from Twin Peaks Alpacas) and HCLA Davina with her new cria (White Cloud) were transported to Wings and a Prayer Alpacas where they would later take another transport to New Mexico. When they arrived in Oregon we were told that Zuza’s skin condition across her rump was horrible. We saw her on 9 July and she had several spotted areas and we were told she had mites, but was being treated. Twin Peaks Vet, Dr. Greewald gave her a clean bill of health with the vet check and never mentioned anything on the vet check about her horrific condition.

The day after she arrived at WAP she was taken for another examination and skin biopsies. Results showed she did not have mites, but in fact it was “rain rot” a type of fungus and was given antibiotics twice a day for two weeks. In addition she is still being given a topical cream on her infected area.

August 14th we got a call from Karen at Morning Start Alpacas of Taos who was keeping our two pregnant females until after they delivered. The call we thought would be a happy call turned out to be a very sad call telling us that MSAT’s Valentine had delivered her little boy cria at 1:30AM, but he never took a breath.
Then the same day, just two hours later we received a call from Barbara at Wings and a Prayer Alpacas telling us Davina was found dead just minutes before. She was in the same quarantine pin with Zuza and White Cloud. This came as a great shock to us all. After taking her to the vet and having a necropsy done the next day we were told that she had massive blood clots in her lungs. We still have no idea how or why this happened. Now White Cloud being orphaned started being bottle fed twice a day and given some chopped hay with a little bit of molasses mixed in with it. It wasn’t long before Cloud preferred the regular hay along with his bottles. Barbara took great care of him and got him halter trained before he made the big move to NM.
After another vet checked Zuza we found out she was not pregnant after being bred twice so we needed to decide if we wanted to breed her or not. The vet gave us the all clear, so this was something else that we began thinking about. Plus we already had four ‘open’ females in NM, plus two pregnant females, Mimi La Rue and Nieve both due in September. The two boys we have won’t be ready to begin breeding for another two to three years so the search was on.

Last weekend 10 September Mom and Larry drove down to visit La Buena Vida’s Alpacas and to take a look at a possible herdsire. They decided to purchase La Buena Vida’s In Sync and then on the way home after realizing he would be in a paddock all by himself decided to purchase Pinnacle’s Pride as well for a companion and possible herdsire in the future.

This same weekend I was attending a Camelidynamics workshop with Marty McGee Bennett on a farm just outside of Frankfurt, Germany. When I arrived home late Monday night, September 12th I came home to great news. I had two messages: Mimi La Rue had given birth to a solid white little girl and Nieve had given birth to a solid white little male. Both had their cria within a couple of hours of each other, Mimi La Rue at Adobe Farms and MSAT’S Nieve at Morning Star Alpacas. This all happened the same day Mom and Larry had driven back to Anthony, NM to pick up In Sync and Pride! Okay, life just went real fast. As Mom said, “We went from zero to 13 alpacas in nine months.”

On 14 September Mom and Larry drove to Albuquerque to meet Randy who was bringing White Cloud and Zuza to their new home in New Mexico. What a thrill it was for them to be bringing them home after their long trek from WA then to OR and over a month later to finally get “home”.

Now I haven’t even touched on all the things that Larry has been doing to our temporary farm in order to get ready for our new herd. Some of the things were building a new feeder for the boys and fencing in more of the corrals/paddocks so they would have plenty of room to roam when they arrived. We hadn’t mentioned that we are renting space from very dear friends that have a farm and were not using their horse corrals or barn for their animals. So the action began in full court speed….cleaning, fencing, ordered hay, were just a few of the things that happened fast and furious.

This past week when they picked up the boys and knew they were getting the other two a couple days later they decided to take their motor home to the farm….not many friends take on having your animals there, plus all the equipment to get all these jobs done….tool trailer, flat bed trailer to haul tractor to clean paddocks and haul things around, horse trailer to haul alpacas, truck, car and then surprise…..the motor home….the set up is fantastic….Mom and Larry are parked under a hay barn and have a ring side view of the “herd” of seven as of today…18 September, and will add three more coming from Taos in the morning….and then there are just the three at Adobe Farms that will be coming to Socorro before too long. We look forward to having all of them together before long.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Head Is Spinning

It's hard to believe that another week has passed by so quickly. Most of the week was spent going to Melvin and Terry's to make modifications for our new herd. The first order of business was to muck out all the stalls and the first paddock. Afterwards we installed "No-Climb Horse Fence" around the perimeter of the barn and first paddock as this is where the new cria and dams will be kept. It was fun walking around the property, thinking about all the possibilities, and shopping at the local mercantile store.

Sunday we drove up to Buffalo Thunder just north of Santa Fe to meet Karen and Chris to transfer three of our open females: Anjou, Tanya, and Xian. After we got the girls into our trailer we all grabbed a bite to eat and went over the medical records and personality of each alpaca.

Once we got home we easily led our girls to their new home. While they sniffed around the fresh hay and water I scooped up some beans from the trailer and put them in the paddock where it would be the easiest for Mom to clean. Well it worked! About half an hour later all had sampled the hay, quenched their thirst, and used the new poop pile!

It doesn't seem real that last summer this was all but a dream. A plan for my future retirement. Now we have the land (although it is not yet developed) and a herd of 12 alpacas with three cria on the way. Outlaw is still being agisted at Adobe Farms and probably will be until next summer. Mimi La Rue is there too and will move out to Melvin and Terry's sometime in October since she is due 5 September. Yesterday Mike Cates collected Davina and White Cloud from Black Hills Alpacas, and El Bello's Zuza from Twin Peaks Alpacas - both in Washington. He will deliver them to Wings and A Prayer in Oregon later today where them will be agisted for a few weeks before coming on out to New Mexico. Then the other two girls up at Morning Star Alpacas will also come down after they have had their cria, as well as the two boys. Plus our two guard dogs (a mix of Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepard) will arrive tomorrow!

I've only gotten to spend two days with our first arrivals and here I am sitting at Albuquerque International Airport awaiting my flight back to Vienna for another year. I wish Mom and Larry all the best and will be forever grateful for everything that they have done this summer and for all the love and care they will be giving our animals while I am away.

Monday, August 1, 2011

WILD Weekend

Great things are happening faster than we can think! First off we left Socorro last Friday for our first New Mexico Alpaca Breeders meeting up in Jemez Springs at Aspen Ridge Alpacas. The meeting wasn't until Saturday, but we wanted to visit some other alpaca farms/ranches on the way. Our first stop was Sundancer Alpacas in Los Lunas where we met Bob and Sheryl. It's wonderful to meet so many people willing to help one another in this business, see their animals and talk about their experiences in the business.

After a few errands in Albuquerque we headed on up to Jemez Springs where we had the pleasure of staying in Evelyn and Mickey's Barnhaus for the weekend. They explained their barn and paddock designs with us and demonstrated how easy it is for one person to herd all the alpacas from place to place by simply opening and closing various gates (approximately 20 we later discovered). The highlight was when Mickey showed us how her boys weigh themselves.

We drove into town to continue our conversation about alpacas over dinner at Las Ojos, where we also got to hear about the local educational and cultural happenings. It was worth having my eyes water from the green chili to meet such great people.

The next morning Mom and I helped out the best we could to help get the main house ready for the quarterly meeting. I'm so glad that we decided to attend even though we aren't official members yet. We learned a little about the history of the organization and what is happening on a state level with the alpaca owners. The three break out sessions were on Fiber, A Tri-State Show, and National Farm Days. After everyone left we helped tidy up then went out to the pastures to feed and scoop up poop, as one does in this business. Then the four of us sat watching the alpacas and debriefed all the things we had learned over the last 24-hours over a glass of wine.

We had one more farm that we wanted to check out before heading back to Socorro, so we woke early and headed to Taos to visit Morning Star Alpacas. Here we met Karen and Chris and heard the wonderful story of how Karen found herself unexpectedly with two alpacas after winning a raffle in California 16-years ago. After we were introduced to her herd she showed us another very practical barn layout. (A 40' x 40' box within a box, within a box - a 10' x 10' tack room, a 10' L for shearing, medical, etc., another 10' L for heard management, and finally an area for hay storage and hanging out in the shade.) The heat was getting to us, so over a glass of iced tea we decided that we would take two boys and five girls from her herd.

How's that for a busy weekend? But wait, that's not all. Mom has really fallen for these majestic creatures and wants to be working with them on a daily basis, so on the way home we stopped to see Melvin and Terry who happened to be in Albuquerque. Our herd just went from five to twelve with three cria due before this winter. (How's that for making one's dream come true?) We had told Karen that we wouldn't be able to confirm taking these new seven unless we could find a place where Mom could take care of them close by and that we could find a good source of Orchard Grass hay for feed.

We knew Melvin and Terry had the perfect setup (30 acres of irrigated pasture only about eight miles south), we just needed their blessing, which we got. Thank you Melvin and Terry! Now we just needed to go home and tell Larry.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Skirting Table

Since we can’t work with our own animals on a daily basis (currently agisting all our alpacas), we are doing what we can each day to learn a little more.

Yesterday Larry built us a skirting table while Mom and I visited and learned a little more from Albuquerque Alpacas. Today Mom and I set up the skirting table on the front porch, dumped a fleece on it, and asked each other; “Now what?” After watching a few videos on YouTube we put the skirting table to good use. I think that we did a pretty good job of skirting our first fleece. However, it took us much longer than the video suggested. Ha!

After we picked out all the foreign matter that we could we placed the blanket fleece in three mesh laundry bags. We now have one on its third rinse soaking in the kitchen sink and two other big bags soaking in the bathtub. For a white fleece the water sure is dirty. Whenever the water finally runs clear we will gently squeeze out the water by rolling it in a towel. Tomorrow I’ll lay it out on the skirting table in the backyard to dry in the sun.

Although we picked out the bits of vegetable matter and debris I still didn’t really grasp the idea of guard hairs and seconds. If it was clean we put it in the bag to be washed. We may not be able to spin it into yarn, but I am sure that we will find some practical use for it, and whatever that is we will love it because we went through the process. We won’t learn if we don’t do.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Farm and Tract Number

Today we received our Farm and Tract Number from the USDA! Carol will be a great resource as we continue our adventure.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Little Background

We purchased 30 acres just east of Carrizozo, NM the summer of 2010 to start raising alpacas. However, David is still teaching in Austria so he does lots of investigating and planning from there while we communicate via email and Skype on a regular basis.

2010 December - David ordered 500 seedlings from the NM Forestry Services
2010 December - David purchased Josey Wales the Outlaw from Adobe Farms Alpacas
2011 March - Kathy and Larry collected the seedlings and potted them into buckets in their backyard in Socorro, NM
2011 April - David purchased three dams: Black Hills' Mimi La Rue, El Bello's Zuza, and HCLA Davina
2011 May - Larry began installing water lines and drip systems on the property in Carrizozo for the seedlings
2011 May - Kathy went to Nationals in Denver to learn more, but the alpacas captured her heart too.
2011 June - David arrived for summer break and labor

We planted 150 woods roses, 50 golden currents, and 50 lilacs along the southern property line alone and installed the drip system to each one. Once all was well we flew up to Seattle to visit some other alpaca ranches and see Davina's new cria, Raindance's White Cloud. It was a fabulous trip and we learned so much. At Twin Peaks Alpacas we met and spit tested El Bello's Zuza with positive results. At Black Hills Alpacas we were introduced to HCLA Davina and her new cria - very exciting! We also bred Davina to Maple Brook's Sapphire and had a crash course on fleece. It was an eventful day. At Andina Alpacas we saw two alpacas get shorn, toenails trimmed, and shots. At Alpacas from MaRS we were present for a birthing. What an awesome week.

2011 June - We came up with a name for our business, Puerta del Sol Alpacas and mom (Kathy) decided to go into partnership with me (David).

2011 June 21 - We began our website on Openherd.