what else is up?

So we’re still enjoying summer weather here — it’s been summery for a couple of weeks at a stretch, now, and we’re about to the point where we could use some rain again.

We do do things besides all the alpaca things we post about, never fear. Stephen has re-written yet another set of gaming rules for his club, in addition to running our regular Friday night Ars Magica game — which has been going almost a year now ! We had a nice time chatting with Zoo people at MJ’s party & have a standing invite from the bird guy to hit him up for a tour the next time we’re at the Zoo. We went to the Manukau Medieval Market (now in Levin!), where Stephen enjoyed some of the SCA fighting he missed at Canterbury Faire (plus he got to ham for the crowd of punters), and I gave a wadge of money to this lovely Afghani woman in exchange for some new jewelry that I adore (ferret shock, I tell you).

Today we went to the Cuba Street Carnival, where I resisted mightily the urge to give Sara more money and instead did my best to hook her up with Traysi, who’s opening a new bellydance boutique upstairs from Indeja, and then had yum char (dim sum) for the second time this month, with about 25 other people.

I finally finished building my new computer. I gave up trying to restore all of my old settings and just did a clean install. We lost some of the software we didn’t have disks for, but now have a couple hundred more gigs of hard rive to play with. We hooked the new machine up to the TV so we can play DVDs that won’t play on the regular player. We’ve been dragging friends over to watch the new Dr. WHO, Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica and Heroes. Okay, not “dragging” so much as announcing “Geoff just got the next three eps of Heroes, you free tonight ?” and arranging the furniture to make room.

One of the women from my waiata group at Council invited me to a four-week newcomers/recruiting thing for the chorus she sings with. They do, get this, barbershop. Fifty women singing dominant sevenths through their noses. They’re a weird, wacky bunch, and though I’m not sure I’ll stick with it after the intro seminar, I’m enjoying the heck out of it in the meantime. I sing bass, apparently.

Got lots of projects on tap, including getting the conservatory fixed. Stephen’s been dealing to all of the young gorse that’s come up, encouraged by the went start to summer. I’ve got sewing to do, and I need to sand the drawers on the gorgeous Chinese chests I bought, oh, months and months ago now. I’m glad we’ve got a holiday coming up.

RIP Floppy

On Saturday afternoon Victoria’s premature cria, which had picked up the nick-name Floppy, died.

On Friday it seemed like things were improving. He had a suck reflex again, and was drinking milk. But by the afternon his temperature started to drop- he couldn’t hold it steady any more. Loss of thermostasis is not a good thing. He also lost his suck reflext, and I had to go back to electrolytes and sugar water.

He survived the night, but Saturday morning he was still cold. I was trying to pack him in with hot watter bottles, but it was not working and his temperature had dropped to a dangerously low 34.5, so at 9 AM we pulled him inside, and put him in a warm bath. Over the next 45 minutes we warmed him back up to 38.5. Drying him off was a bit traumatic for him, we think.

At this point the wind had died down and it was sunny so we put him out in the paddock with his mother, lying in the sun. He was still quite weak and limp. His termparture dropped a bit at first to 37.3, and then slow rose to 39.4 by 3 PM, a bit high, but not dangerously so. I figured the sun was past maximum, and I would check his temperature again before the next feed.

45 minutes later his termpature had soared up to 41.5, which is a brain-cooking super-bad. I rushed him into the shade and put him on cool ground, but he was already in distress. His condition deteriorated rapidly. I think he might have had a heart attack. His breathing and heart stopped. I tried CPR but could not revive him, and he died in my arms at 4:05 PM.

We called our friend MJ who was just getting off work at a nearby vet clinic. She came over and did the post-mortem for us, which was inconclusive. Nothing grossly wrong inside. All organs his were okay, and he had no signs of bloat, pneumonia, etc. We cannot be sure of the cause of death, but his weakness from the beginning probably played a big role. Unable to eat effectively, sugar water is a poor substitute for mothers milk. Little babaies have no reserves, and eventually his whole system went out of wack. The loss of thermostasis was probably a sign of other stuff going wrong too.

After burying the little guy, we changed clothes and drove MJ home- as we had now made her late for the party she and her flatmate were throwing. We spent the evening socializing and trying to forget the day we had just had.

While the whole episode was emotionally draining and a bit depressing, we have to look on the bright side. This was a huge educational experience, and we have learned a great deal about neonatal care. Perhaps those skills will one day help us save another premature cria. And we also have to count overselves luck that the two cria we lost this season were both males, as we have been otherwise quite unlucky on the male:female ratio so far.

Neonatal Care

So, good news, the cria is still alive. I was worried last night for a time. He started termbling, so I gave him some warm water bottles and wrapped him in a blanket. This was too much intervention for Vic, as she could not find/smell his bum, so she had a go at me. I backed off, and revealed more of the cria to calm her down. He spent the night in the shed with her, snuggled into a bed of hay.

He has been given an antibiotic cover (amoxocillian), as he lost his sucking reflex yesterday, and was running on the hot side of normal. As he would not suck, we could not feed him milk from the bottle. They must suck the milk from the bottle. The sucking action, combined with the head in an upright position, directs the milk past the first stomach chamber (C1) and straight into the C3 chamber, where it goes into the intestines and is absorbed. If milk goes into C1 it will curdle and cause significant stomach upset- including the poossibility of bloat, which can be fatal.

So, I gave him a sugar solution by syringe into his mouth throughout the day. He needs the hydration, and the sugar to keep his brain working.

This morning he is more active. His temperature regulation seems to be doing okay, too. And after the third feed at 10AM he got up and started searching under mum for teats. No “hits” yet, but having the energy and inclination to search is a good sign. Fingers crossed the little guy will make it! If he does, it will be a fun challenge thinking of a name for him.


Here are couple pics Stephen took of the new boy earlier today:

We’ll try and get some more — ones that show what we mean when we describe how “undercooked” he is, with his droopy-tipped ears and his knock kees and flat ankles. Will get more of Owlet, too. She’s doing quite well. Nabaztag has made friends with her (Owl and Rabbit), and they chase each other around.

And here are some recent ones of the others, as they are getting bigger:

An easy one would be nice

It seems like we have been selected to have an “educational” year of alpaca raising.

Victoria unpacked about noon today. I went out to check her before going shopping, and found a little black (or maybe a very dark brown) male cria on the ground. The little boy is 2 weeks premature, and shows many signs of his dysmaturity- floppy ears, loose tendons that make his legs all floppy, and a lack of energy.

I spent the afternoon tending to him. He just didn’t have much energy, he couldn’t even maintain a kush for long before “going flat”. Some sucrose helped temporarily. I held him up to Vic’s teats, and he suckled a bit. I should note that Vic is a very good and patient mother, and was very forgiving of my attempts to care for her baby- if another alpaca strayed to near she showed them off smartly, all the while letting me work with her cria right under her udder.

About 4PM I decided that more intervention was needed. I got out the colostrum (first milk) we had taken from Cindy after she lost her cria in December, carefully thawed it and heated it up to 38 C, and fed it to the little boy. Yum! He tried getting to a teat after that, but kept missing, and ran out of steam before he managed to latch on. We brought Vic and her boy down to the yards, and I gave him a second feed of cow colostrum at 6 PM. He will get another at 8 and 10. Hopefully he will build up enough energy to find his mum’s milk bar, as she has plenty of milk, and is keen for him to feed.

Fingers crossed it will only take a few days to get him sorted!

For those keeping track of record for the year is 5 males (1 dead) and 2 females. Minty is obviously pregnant, and will probably drop sometime in early April? Persil spits off, but is not showing. If pregnant, she will probably drop in the middle of winter. That should be entertaining.

A late night- but good news

We have another live and healthy cria on the ground- and another girl no less!

Last night around 8PM Sarah knocked on the door- seems Yvonne had noticed that Galdriel was acting mighty suspicious while she and the girls were riding out back. We went and checked- yep, stage 1 labor. Now this is generally considered “very not good”, any labor after 4 or 5 PM is, by the book, an “emergency- call the vet” situation. We brought all the girls down to the yards about 9 PM, and commenced our watch.

About 10 PM we called for advice to Jeanette (head of the health comittee), Linda (who taught the neonatal course) and our Vet. The advice was (1) wait and watch (2) stick hand in and see what is going on, and (2) another vote for stick hand in. We watched until about 10:45, then stuck Tam stuck her (clean, gloved, lubricated) hand in- and felt a little nose at the far end of the birth canal!

We laid out a sleeping bag in the yards, and lay down to wait. 20 minutes later we heard a little *gak gak* noise, and the flashlight revealed a little head. The noise was from the cria coughing to clear her lungs of amniotic fluid. About 3 minutes later the cria was on the groud. Galadriel does have quick easy births once the process gets going.

Black. Female. About 9 kg. She was on her feet and getting about within 30 minutes.

Now the challenge was trying to get a feed into her. The earlier the colostrum goes in, the better. In nature the cria “looks for the dark spot”, going under mum and eventaully finding the teat. At midnight this involved a flashlight trained on Galdriel’s back, and that worked. It took some time, but about 12:30 she finally found the milk bar, and got a good drink. We then slept awhile. About 1:30 AM Tam got up and using the flashlight got another feed into the baby. By 3 AM the placenta had passed. Tam went inside, I spent the rest of the night in the yards.

Now we need to look up “owl” in arabic and see if that would make a good name, as the Moreporks (native owls) were calling all around us throughout the night.

I tried to weigh her again this morning but she was far to wriggly to weigh with a spring scale. She and Galadriel ran up the laneway, and are now happily wandering around gallop.

9AM edit- checking her out in fully light reveals slightly floppy ears. This is a classic sign of a slightly dysmature cria. So even though she went 4.5 weeks overdue, the cria was not quite done! This is one reason why you should not induce labor, even if the mother is past her due date, as the cria may not be nearly as developed as the time would suggest. Slightly floppy ears are not really a worry, we will just monitor her closely over the next few days. Nice warm and sunny weather will no doubt help.

not to jinx myself…

I waited a week or two to post this, so as to not jinx myself.

It looks like Boo’s milk production has now come up, and Miniya is gaining weight on her own. Saturday Jan 20th was the last time she had a “big drink”, and in the week that followed she had little interest in the bootle, so by the next weekend we stopped offering it, and she managed to keep gaining weight. The weight gain was a bit slow and uneven at first, but it seems ot be improving.

Now it is the wait for Galadriel to give birth. She is now 4.5 weeks overdue, huge, and grumpy. Victroia is now due in only 3 weeks, and is showing signs of getting ready (udder is starting to fill).

The last few days have been quite warm, especially as the skies have been clear and the sun very hot. We have brought the girls down a few times for hose-offs, as they really like playing in the water. I will probably do so again this afternoon, as I am sure both Galadriel and Victoria, who are both heavily pregnant, would love to cool down a bit.

Look! An ill-omen!

Last night we finally saw comet McNaught. For the last month it seems every night we were either busy, or it was cloudy. Last night we drove up to the beach at Plimmerton (about 20 minutes north), and sat on a bench with our friend Anthony watching the sun set. About 30 minutes after sunset you could see the comet.

A few weeks ago it would have been much brighter, but even so you could still see with the naked eye the bright spot of the core with a long tail trailing out behind it. Best comet I have ever seen. It will apparently fade from sight within the next week or so, as it moves further away from Earth. Once we knew where to look we could see it when we got home, out the bedroom slider even.

This comet was about at the same angle as the southern cross, nearly due south in the sky (maybe 15 degrees west of south).

Now, if comets are supposed to be harbingers of ill-omen, what can we expect to come next?