Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Already doing their job

Luke and Leia are 12 weeks old now. They are typical puppies in many ways - exploring new things with their mouths, wrestling with each other, arguing over the food bowls - but different from other puppies I've dealt with. Luke, especially, is very independent. He's always happy to see me, but after he greets me and gets a little attention, he's very happy to go about his business of being a guard dog in training. Leia enjoys people a little more, but she doesn't make a fuss when I leave the barn. They seem to be very content with the barn as their home base and sharing a yard with the alpacas. I have to keep Luke separated from the chickens unless I'm there to supervise. He tends to get excited after being with them for a while and will chase them. This is definitely something we have to work on before he gets much older.

Over the weekend, they had their first chance to be livestock guardian dogs. A full size Doberman and a buddy came back to the barn/pasture area. The puppies barked their little heads off and chased the Dobe and the other dog away.


Because Cosmo has been so aggressive to Choco and Chip and even to the llama, we decided to have him gelded and reduce the testosterone level on the farm. We got Choco done at the same time as we don't plan to breed him.

We had the choice to have it done here Friday in the barn or take them to the clinic. Good thing we took them in. 24 hours after surgery, Cosmo was still bleeding. His red blood cell count was down to half of what it should have been and he was becoming very weak. We were afraid we would lose him. Dr. Royse at the Argyle Vet Clinic was great, monitoring him all night and doing everything he could to try and stem the bleeding. Finally mid-day on Saturday, he got it under control, but kept him until Monday to be sure he'd be OK. Choco's surgery went fine, but he stayed at the clinic to keep Cosmo a bit calmer. Alpacas don't like to be without other alpacas.

He's home now and just a little worse for the experience - thinner and his beautiful white fluffy fleece is now coated with blood. The good news is that he hasn't picked a fight with anyone since he's been home. I hope that's a result of the gelding and not just that he's still too weak. He was feeling good enough to smile for the camera.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Our Place

Everyone tells us how lucky we are to have found land in Keller. Keller is a great little bedroom community just north of Ft. Worth and it has just about everything you can ask for - groceries, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, fantastic local restaurants, tractor supply and a feed store just around the corner. However, most of the housing in Keller is in subdivisions now. Our place is on 2.7 acres on a dead end street of houses on the same size lots. About half the families on the street keep some kind of livestock. We've seen horses, cattle and there are supposed to be goats nearby, too.

The back pasture is divided in half. The llama is on the right hand side and the photo of the chickens below is the left side. The property behind us is a horse farm where someone is always riding. I wished I would have had the camera the first time the alpacas and the horses saw each other. Everyone was very curious, but no one freaked out.

The chickens are molting right now, so not laying many eggs, which is a good thing because I haven't found a market for them yet. In Marana, there was a great Farmer's Market every Monday in Gladden Farms. They took my eggs and sold them for me on consignment. If I can't find a way to sell them soon, we're going to be eating lots of omelettes and souffles.

Sad Day on the Farm

We knew it would happen eventually, but this happened way too soon. We lost an alpaca last night. Bravo, our new Suri boy, who just got here on Saturday, died last night. He didn't show any signs of being ill. When I went to check on them after dinner last night, he was out in the field and couldn't get up. Chet carried him back to the barn, but it was too late.

Then I did something I never in the million years thought I would do. We took his body to a taxidermist and we are having his pelt preserved. There aren't an awful lot of options when livestock becomes deadstock. You can't reallly bury them as it's against the law in most places. Some people will leave them for the predators to finish off, but we didn't want to have that happen around here. There are rendering plants, I guess, but I didn't really want to consider that. The other option was take him to a landfill, which I thought is the worst of all the possibilities.

Besides the sadness of losing an animal, we're feeling pretty badly that the little deaf boy, Frankie, has lost his hearing ear guide. The breeder has generously offered to replace him with another animal that looks just like him so that Frankie will have another Suri to hang out with.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Additions to the Farm

We got our new critters yesterday. 3 alpacas and the llama. In the photo above are the 2 white boys. The little one is Frankie and the bigger guy is Bravo. They are Suri alpacas and are good buddies. Wherever Bravo goes, Frankie is not far behind.

Frankie is about 9 months old and he has blue eyes. The breeder believed he was deaf, but we're pretty sure he has some hearing as his ears will move in the direction of noises. He is as cute as can be.

Just to show the size difference, here are Frankie and Bravo standing next to Zoltan, the llama - who isn't full grown yet. In case you're wondering about the llama's name, we're big fans of the very stupid movie "Dude, Where's My Car?". In the movie, the main characters, Jesse and Chester, get trapped and attacked by a bunch of ostriches. Jesse thinks they are llamas. The character Zoltan in the movie is the "wise and powerful" leader of a bunch of geeks in bubble wrap space suits.

And last, but not least, the boy in very bad need of dental work is Mulligan James. As funny looking as he is, his fleece has won blue ribbons.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm NOT a poodle!!

He's a beige alpaca - with a bad haircut. The story is that the shears ran out of juice before they finished shearing this spring. This is Dreamcatcher Cosmo, a 3 year old boy who came to live with us this past weekend. His fleece is very, very soft.

We had quite an learning experience introducing him to Chip and Choco. In his past life, Cosmo was involved in a lot of male fighting with his herd-mates. He tried to bully our two boys, so we had to separate them for a few days. We put them all together again last night and he's doing much better with them.