On Friday night I came home to my desk covered with yarn! Not full skeins of yarn, but a pile of misc skeins. But it is enough to block my way to the keyboard. My parents got their yarn back from the fiber mill on Sunday. I got my hands on it on Tuesday (well 1 skein of 200 yards). They got the yarn in cones and it needed to be broken down into skeins. My sister worked her skein winding magic and turned all the cones into beautiful skeins of yarn. There were amounts left over that were not full skeins....those came to me on Friday. Just a day before our Open House at the farm. So pizza was ordered and I casted on some hats. Clearly I couldn't cook a dinner with NEW farm yarn in my house and an open house the next day.
Earlier in the day I was at the farm and Spicy my parents SPECTACULAR rose gray female was looking very uncomfortable. I guess 11-1/2 months of pregnancy can do that to an alpaca. In my professional alpaca option (let it be known my professional opinion is based on me spending lots of time in the field scooping poop, my mom and sister are the ones that glove up and inspect the alpacas) it looked like Spicy's labor had begun and we would be seeing a cria in the next 24 hours.
If you are not familiar with alpacas let me tell you that most alpacas have their crias from 8:00 am - 1:00 pm. In nature if they have their alpacas during these times it gives them time to dry off and learn to walk before night fall. Smart right?! So Spicy hasn't gotten that memo. Spicy is more of that great aunt that will give you bubble gum when you are two years old. She is so cool, but not the best mother figure.
I got a text around 4:00 pm that Spicy was in labor. Duh I could have told you that right?! So Spicy was in labor on a Friday night during cocktail hour. Just like last time she was in labor. Since Spicy's last time in labor was her first we weren't sure what to expect. Typically alpacas deliver in the same methods. For example: Star delivers in the morning usually around 8:30 and active labor is about 20 minutes (if you go inside to brush your teeth you'll miss the delivery). If Star lets another alpaca eat out of her feed bucket she will be having a baby within a few hours. Melody is mid-morning Melody. She usually delivers around noon. I get to the farm to watch for the cria and have to leave to give my kids lunch and Melody delivers just after I leave. Spicy .....well. She makes the whole thing much more dramatic.
My parents participate in National Alpaca Farm Days. It is a nation wide event that encourages alpaca farms to open their farms to the public and welcome people in from the community in to learn about alpacas. Some farms have a dozen people through the weekend and others have a hundred. My parents farm have hundreds and hundreds of people. Each year we try to count. Typically we get to 500 on the first day and then stop counting. It is a huge event for the farm. Not only does it give everyone the incredible close up experience to the alpacas it also brings in some revenue to help support the herd. Some people just like to leave donations at the farm and it brings tears to my eyes to see how much money is in the donation bin at the end of the day. There are so many generous people left in the world :) And we can't say thank you enough.
For us alpaca farming it is a daily thing. The maintenance and care that goes into these precious animals and to have a day that welcomes strangers, neighbors, friends, relatives, and inspiring alpaca owners to come to the farm it brings us so much joy to see how much fun they have at the farm. They love it as much as us! One of our visitors today was an inspiring photographer. Today was her birthday and when her mother asked her what she wanted for her birthday she said to spend the morning at our farm taking pictures. Seriously can you handle how much fun is that! I wish I could have spent the day with her. Maybe she'll come back to hang out with me. Especially since her mom hangs out at my favorite yarn shop.
Okay so back to National Alpaca Farm Days. So in the Summer we don't have our showroom open. We do however give knitting lessons, spinning lesson, welcome inspiring vets to come and help out for a day or two and all other alpaca farming stuff. Also during the Summer we have lots of vendors coming to show us lots of alpaca apparel. We take orders for September. There is lots of ordering done and we ask for shipments in September. The Summer goes by and September comes and so do alpaca due dates and delivery trucks. September is full of anticipated births and deliveries of alpaca apparel. Since we don't really leave the farm during the Fall birthing season we get excited about the deliveries of both crias and Fall alpaca apparel.
So after the last delivery of alpaca apparel it was only fitting that Spicy needed to deliver her cria. Of course she didn't take the preferred 8 am - 1 pm slot. Her last birth was in the Spring and she decided on her maiden run to take the pm slot. And holding to the alpaca repeat performance birth she decided not to disappoint in the PM slot. Oh did I mention that Spicy is the cool alpaca and doesn't like to feed her kids? She loves them, but the feeding things is another thing. So at 11:30 pm just before midnight Spicy delivered a whooping 22 lb male cria. Gorgeous doesn't even begin to describe him. His father is one spectacular herd sire and the anticipation of seeing what this pair would make was not disappointing. What was disappointing was Spicy's decision that she didn't want to feed her new baby. Ugg.
So at 4:00 am on Saturday morning Spicy and her cria were loaded up on the trailer and on their way to the vet clinic. We learned last time with her first cria that after 4 days of trying to hold her and help the baby nurse wore us all out more than we can handle. This time we took her right to the clinic so they would have 24 hour care. They began tube feeding him so he wouldn't be used to a bottle. After a lot of hard work lots of worrying and sleepless nights I am happy to report last night Spicy and her cria came back to the farm! Happy, healthy and nursing on their own! Woo Hoo. As my mother says it is a glorious sight to see. I think my parents and sister Liz are even over the all nighter they pulled before the Open House.
This little guy is co-owned by my sister Liz and my parents. Which I think might be the best decision my parents have ever made. Liz paid for the outside breeding and used one of my parents female alpacas. Which means she gets to pay half the costs to the vet clinic. Hee hee. No Mom I don't want to co-own Spicy's baby next year. I joke, but this guy just might turn out to make a way lot more money then that clinic could have ever cost it is something only time will tell. In the mean time we'll all be keeping our fingers crossed.
His fiber is so dense they couldn't get to his skin! I think this guy is going to have a very bright and successful future.
His fancy green bandage is protecting where he had to have some medicine administered and it will come off soon. But for now doesn't the green really bring out the gray in his face?!
Congrats to my parents and Liz for their new addition. Maybe next year Spicy will make things a little less dramatic. But really how can you blame her for not wanting to feed a 22 lb baby. That had to hurt!
Last night as I was taking a few pictures of the new guy and I kept calling him "Stone Cold Steve Austin". He reminds me of stone statue the way he was standing so still when I took pictures. I knew the name "Stone" was floating around as a possible name. And low and behold he will go by "Stone". I think Stone Cold Steve Austin is going to be my nickname for him. His official name will be Dupayage, but that is another story. This one has gone on long enough.
In other news the other new kids were dying for some attention. It was too dark to take pictures so I took a few videos. Here is one of Arrow and Bo being adorable. I really should hang out with them more often. I mean besides cleaning up after them.