Wednesday, September 18, 2013


A couple of years ago, we added some girls to our herd and last fall we decided it was time to try for some babies. Female alpacas carry their babies (crias) for an average of 355 days. We learned (too late) that fall babies are born earlier than spring babies, probably because of the heat. And, boy, did we have heat this summer.

Lucy, our 11 year old, gave birth on September 1 - one of the hottest days of the year, it seemed. The baby girl had a hard time breathing and struggled for every breath. She wasn't able to suckle and nurse. We suspect that she was born a few weeks too early and her lungs weren't fully developed. She put up a good fight for 4 days. We milked Lucy every hour and fed the baby by syringe and eye dropper. She was a beautiful copper-colored baby and we all grew very attached to her. Our first-born died on September 5.

It was a heartbreaking loss. We were exhausted from not getting enough sleep each night. We got angry with each other for both giving up hope and having too much hope. We were disappointed the vet didn't have any good answers. Her lungs sounded "horrible" he said, and the drugs gave her only a brief respite. We struggled with the fact that this baby was not a "pet", but livestock. Livestock bred for profit. As business owners, how much could we, or would we, invest in saving her life, if she could even BE saved? It turned out to be a moot point. She wasn't meant to survive. She was just wasn't prepared to live in this world.

We vowed to be better prepared and ready for the next birth. We ordered the bible on alpaca birthing and gathered our supplies.

We didn't have much time to read the book. On Friday, September 13, our grey girl, Star, gave birth to a beautiful grey baby boy. This cria is so different than our first. He's very strong. At birth, his teeth were already coming in and he had fully developed toenails - 2 things the first baby never had.

Star is a first time mom and she's a nervous animal, even without a newborn. She's very worried about her baby and checks out everything we're doing with him. Thankfully, they have bonded well and he's nursing regularly. He's gained at least a pound in his first few days here. He's running around the enclosure, exercising those long legs leaping and bounding about.

We don't have a name for him yet.  Some sort of tie-in with Friday the 13th would be neat or a connection to his mama "Star".  Feel free to comment with suggestions!

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