Are you ready ?

I hope you’re ready for the saccharine overload. Number Two arrived today — this morning around 11, as we were getting ready for both the Xmas parade, in which we were pirates (because nothing says “Christmas” like “Pirates!”) and hosting Thanksgiving Dinner Mark II at our place (luckily we had Emily to turkey-sit while we were at the parade). Gorgeous, gorgeous day.

This one was 11.75 kilos ! He (yes, another boy) definitely came out more precocious than the white one — he was already running around with minimal wobbliness at only a couple hours old, knew right away which one his mother was, and mostly which end of her he ought to be investigating.

The parade was good. Stephen only made three kids cry, and had one old lady threaten him with her cane (but, er, in a good way) ! And he made traffic cops say “Arrr!” for candy. And topping it off was hanging out stuffing ourselves and drinking lovely wine with a table full of good friends (lucky I won those nice chairs at the auction — everyone had somewhere to sit).

All in all, a good day.

Shearing Day

So we now officially owe the weather gods our sincere thanks and a stick of incense or two. We had two beautiful days in a row, which means that we had dry alpacas to shear, and good weather to shear them in. Yay ! Concetta, Persil and Boo are screamers. Oak squealed a bit, too. Pointer, Galadriel and Minty were quiet and easy. Persil and Boo have fangs ! Usually only the males get those. It’s possible some of the others have them, too, but they’re of course easier to see if the alpaca has its mouth open making a noise like tires peeling out on a live cat. Jim got a haircut, too this time around, and it came out much better than the last one. The photos didn’t though, so you’ll have to wait. I do have a before and after of Hyouki, though:

And the obligatory shot of the cria, on day three:

No, we didn’t shear him. We did shear his mother Concetta — will get “after” shots of her soon.

It's a boy

So, in case you were wondering, yes- it’s a boy. There is a small chance he might be worth keeping as a stufd male, othewise he will be snipped and sold in 1 or 2 years time.

He is all white with pink skin. White on his little toenails. White on his little toe pads. Very cute.

Watching him trying to nurse from Jim was a hoot. Llamas can generate some great “hey now! What are you doing down there?!” expressions.

He is a big boy. ABout 9 kg at birth- all coming from little Concetta. She is so much smaller now! She went 4.5 weeks past her due date, so I can see why she would have been getting desperate for any ray of sunshine.

wibble

Had a *lovely* bit of stress as I came home yesterday. We’ve had the horses grazing the driveway for the last few days (because, you know, we’d have to mow it otherwise & why waste good grass), which means the gate at the bottom of the driveway has been closed. It’s annoying — when you want to leave, you have to stop the car, get out, totter across the cattle grid, lift the loop of baling twine that keeps it from swinging open, and haul the thing open. The post in some years past developed a lean which means the gate will swing open by itself and then ground half-way open, and you have to lift it up and drag it the rest of the way. Then drive across the bridge, stop the car again and get out and close the gate, fishing the baling twine out of the long grass and re-fastening it shut. It’s a pain in the ass, but not as big a pain in the ass as mowing a driveway as long as ours, so what the heck.

When you get back, of course, you have to go through the whole process in reverse — stop, get out, open gate, drive across, stop, get out, totter across grid, close gate, finish drive to house.

Our bridge, for the record, is oh, maybe three meters across, two or three feet above the stream (on average — the stream varies, of course). Half of the bridge is a big sheet of steel, and the other half is a cattle grid composed of steel pipes more-or-less fixed to some steel I beams. The point of a cattle grid, of course, is that animals look at it and think “No way am I going to put my feet on *that*”, and they don’t try to cross it. (Plenty of people feel the same way about them, frankly). A couple of our more smarty-pants alpacas (and Jim), have on occasion looked at the grid, looked at the grass on the side of the road outside, and just jumped over the thing onto the sheet steel side of the bridge and then prodeeded to make their way merrily off down the road. Which is why we keep the gate shut — no point jumping over the grid just to get onto a piece of sheet steel (clearly, I am going to have to get a photo of all this, so you can see what I’m talking about).

Photos:

Anyway, I get home yesterday, do the gate dance, and as I’m going back over the bridge to shut the gate behind me, one of the ponies, Tom, tries to follow me back across the bridge. I watch in horror as his left front foot slips *thunk* right down into the slot between the concrete and the first bar in the cattle grid. And is stuck there. And here is this pony trying to tug his foot loose, and here is me, balancing on the pipes of the cattle grid in my work shoes trying to pry the bars apart with a stray waratah while half of my brain is desperately trying to telepathically summon Stephen from the house, 60 meters up the hill and out of sight and sound, and the other half is trying very hard not to think about explaining to Yvonne how Tom broke his leg and had to be put down while she was out of town, and instead work out whether I can safely leave Tom stuck in the grid while I finish the drive up to get Stephen and tools. The lucky thing is that the gap he slipped through at least has the concrete lip of the bridge a few inches underneath, so while he’s effectively got his foot stuck in a box, he didn’t slip his whole leg through right down to stream bed.

As I’m casting about for anything else to use on the bars, Tom shifts around and manages somehow to cross his front legs, so his right front hoof is now on the grid as well — for a mercy actually *on* one of the pipes. His back legs have swung around and are on the bank tucked in front of the concrete block that keeps the stream from undermining the bridge. If he swings around any further, he’s in danger of his back legs slipping down the bank into the stream, nevermind his other front leg dropping between the bars. I reflect that at least he can’t kick me as I’m using a broken waratah to dig out the dirt around the pipe, although he does nip at my back once or twice in annoyance. I can’t budge the pipe, and I can’t get him to shift back around, so I get into the car and go get Stephen. Another pony, Gem, is in front of the car and gets chased up the driveway at a canter.

While Stephen runs to the shed to get a halter and tools, I run into the foyer, change my work shoes for a more practical pair, drop my long skirt on the floor and scamper back out in just my slip. We drive back down the driveway, to find that Tom has gotten his hindquarters back around and his right hoof back on solid ground. He must have tangled with the concrete block while he was at it, because he’s got new cuts on his back legs. The stuck foot also has some raw scrapes.

Stephen halters Tom so I can hold him still (not that he’s inclined to try going anywhere at this point) while he has a go at the bar. The *other* end is not so well attached, and Stephen pries that up anough to give hoof clearance on this end. Tom lets Stephen pick up his trapped foot and set it back on terra firma, and I lead him back up the driveway. At the shed, Stephen hoses off Tom’s feet and legs while I go in and ring Yvonne. Everybody’s lucky — it looks like he’s gotten away with just some superficial cuts and scrapes. *I*, on the other hand, need a valium. Oi. We settle for dinner out at the Mexican Cafe.

They'll just explode

Concetta is now 3.5 weeks overdue. I fear she may just explode. We take some comfort that many people are reporting late births this spring, with the conventional wisdom being that it is a response to the cold winter. Makes sense, as you would want to delay a bit to make sure there is plenty of good feed before you start lactation. But poor Concetta is really waddling about now.

It has not helped that the cold and wet weather of October now seems to have kicked back in. The first few days of November were actually Spring-like. Today the high is 12, with a cold southerly wind and rain. I am glad we don’t have newborn animals on the ground in weather like this.

Rest assured, if any of the alpaca ever decide to give birth, we will let you know.

Do it

I know most of you will, but if for any reason at all one of you readers in the US is thinking you might not vote, consider yourself taken by the shoulders and (gently) shaken. VOTE. DO IT.

We have, and ours are on nice, re-countable paper. Neener-neener. (They even sent us tiny little number 2 pencils to complete the arrows with. Isn’t that thoughtful ?)