The List

Here’s the current breakdown:

The “Original mob”:

Victoria – blue-eyed white, her cria “Floppy” was premature and died, the matriarch, also the “big gay ‘paca”
Cariboo – Victoria’s adult daughter, brown, big but shy
Concetta – fawn, with greyish face, “the enforcer”
Galadriel – black, good with people but a Dalek to other alpacas, good mother
Joy – maroon with white streak down the front of her neck, the smart one
Cindy – light fawn, her cria this year was born dead, Victoria’s “special friend”

The “Silverpeaks girls”, formerly “the shaggy white girls”:

Minty – blue-eyed white, likes apple, motto: “You’re not the boss of me”
Latte – blue-eyed white, on the thin side, but lives up to her name by making a lot of milk
Persil – blue-eyed white, possibly pregant, certainly epileptic

The babies:

Zahir – Concetta’s white male cria
Zafar – Joy’s brown male cria, has Nike “swoosh” on forehead
Miniya (“Minnie”) – Cariboo’s chocolate-colored daughter, the bottle baby
Nabaztag (“Rabbit”) – Latte’s brown-and-white male cria
Isra (“Owlet”) – Galadriel’s black female cria, born at night
Nazani – Minty’s brown and white female cria

The “New mob”:

Blaze – blue-eyed white, bad legs, matriarch
Tessa – Blaze’s adult daughter, black with white zig-zags on face, pushy
Topsy – Tessa’s black daughter, will be old enough to breed in the spring
Jasmine – darkish fawn/roan with white face
Holly – Jasmine’s adult daughter, grey, curious
Jodie – Jasmine’s young adult daughter, fawn/roan (lighter than Jasmine) with white face
Jasper – blue-eyed white wether with soft fleece, related to the rest of them somehow
Wally – brown wether-in-charge, with white markings on face, related to the rest of them somehow
“A1” – white female bought separately from Totara Grove, will get a proper name at some point.

Da Boyz:

Oak – red brown, one of our first wethers, pushy
Pointer – brown with black points, white spot on nose, one of our first wethers, “beanful”
Hyouki – Concetta’s now-grown-up fawn son, sweet
Hankyo – Galadriel’s grey son from last year, worships Jim (“My Tallest!”)
Rikaku – Cindy’s light fawn son from last year
Harry – the white stud we are leasing
Jim – the llama ! Dark brown with white blaze

It is on the To Do list to get a website up and running for Alpacas Rampant, and one of the things we want to put on it is pics of each of the individual alpacas, and what we think of them as breeding stock: pros & cons, what we’re looking for, what we’re looking to correct, etc.. I’m in the process of getting myself up to speed on web design — when I taught myself HTML, tables were still the fancy new tech, so I’ve got a bit of catching up to do.

Cultural Differences

One of the more interesting aspects of living in another country is looking for the little cultural differences. In many ways NZ and America are similar, in that way that English-speaking/English-settled modern western democracies that all watch the same television programs have attained a baseline of homogeneity. But there are differences. Here you will see people walking around the grocery store in their bare feet, either having arrived that way or after having left their muddy boots by the front door. And then there are the myriad ways in which race relations are different, with Maori culture and language still being alive.

This Wednesday was the commemoration of one of the big cultural differences- ANZAC day. This is the day that marks the landings at Gallipoli in 1915, that ill-fated campaign during WWI that resulted in the deaths of so many Australian and NZ troops.

They start with dawn ceremonies, which draw thousands of people. Many of the TV and radio stations do all-morning or all-day ANZAC-only programms. It is not a celebration of victory or martial prowess, rather it is a remembrance of the cost of war. The fact that Gallipoli was a defeat is an important part of that. NZ had the highest per-capita casualties of any nation during the first world war, and that is saying a lot. Almost every town has a war memorial, and when you count the number of names on the memorial and compare it to the size of the town in 1918, it is a sobering moment.

Very, very different from Vertern’s Day or Memorial Day in the States.

New 'Pacas!

While we were on holiday down south, we looked at a skillion alpacas, some of which were for sale, some of which we, yes, actually bought. One of the places we looked was just out of Picton, where a couple who had a small mob of alpacas were selling the farm and moving to town. They were offering the whole herd at a very reasonable price if you took the whole herd. Some people were interested in cherry-picking the nice-looking young girls and leaving the older ones and the wethers, but the owners really wanted the herd kept together. “We can do that,” we said. “We’ve got plenty of space & don’t mind a couple extra wethers.” All up, we got seven females and two wethers (and one of the wethers has a reeealy nice fleece), plus four of the girls come pregnant to a nice Totara Grove stud. We’ve added half again the size of our existing mob, and almost doubled our number of breeding females (not counting the three babies). We think this might do us for a while. :^)

Here are some pics:

Bonus blurry pics of cria spazzing, because that’s what they were doing this morning:

Thrills! Chills! Adventures in Animal Husbandry!

I suspect this belongs on one of those “you know you’re a breeder when” sorts of lists, but I can tell you that the event this weekend that I found to be the most exciting, the most satisfying, that gave me that little thrill of happiness…. was when first Minty and then Galadriel sat down and let themselves be bred. Imagine me, clutching the top of the gate, eyes wide, avidly fixed on the subtle nuances of alpaca ear set and head position, repeating, “She’s gonna sit ! She’s gonna SIT !” with the relieved incredulity of, say, Ellen Ripley when Bishop brings the dropship up to the platform just in time to save them from the exploding reactor. (Why, yes, we *have* re-watched Aliens recently, why do you ask ?)

Why such relief ? Well, in theory, female alpacas should be ready to get pregnant again two or three weeks after giving birth. Galadriel, though, showed no interest in the stud at all. In fact, if poor Harry came anywhere near her, he’d get a face-full of green goo. After several weeks of trying various tricks, we tried getting her a shot of prostoglandin, which is meant to clear up any residual hormones leftover from pregnancy (on the theory that she was spitting him off because hormonally, she thought she was still pregnant). Only it didn’t seem to work, and even if it did, Harry had by this time gotten spat at so many times, that he no longer tried going after Galadriel at all (can’t blame him). It looked like Minty might be going the same way — three weeks after delivering Nazani, she was still giving Harry the I’m-not-interested spit. We were wondering if we needed to try switching males — maybe they just didn’t fancy Harry.

And then Saturday, we brought the girls down, put Harry in a pen with Cariboo, Minty, and Galadriel, and Minty actually sat down. Huzzah ! And Galadriel wandered over during the mating and looked distinctly interested. Sunday, Galadriel sat ! Maybe the prostoglandin just took a couple cycles to do its thing.

Now here’s hoping they both get pregnant on the first try, because trying to tell whether these two are spitting off “for real” is just way too fraught.

Companion Animals

Last Thursday I got a chance to try something I had been curious about for years- taking an alpaca to a rest home to act as a pet-therapy critter.

The backstory to this is that our friend and bellydance teacher, Beverly, was going crazy in her government job. So she quit and bought Zippity Zoo, a mobile petting zoo. She was going to a rest home in Paraparaumu last Thursday, and I asked if I could tag along with an alpaca.

I brought Hyouki (the fawn boy), and he did pretty well. He was a bit freaked out, by the surroundings, the lack of alpaca buddies (he came alone), and perhaps most of all by the little goats Beverly had with her. I stayed outside, working around the deck area. I went around the outside of the deck where the patients could reach down to pet him if they wanted too, and where if he got a bit too freaked out he could just step away from the deck and take a break. As you would expect, most of the ones who came/were brought outside were more mentally and physically capable, and they really enjoyed getting to meet and alpaca. I will have to try this again in the future. Beverly brought a ewe, two goats, chickens, guinea pigs and bunnies. All told we spent an hour with the patients, which was eough for both animals and the patients.

In other alpaca news Cindy, who lost her cria right before Christmas to a bad birth dystocia, is back from Christchurch. It is nice to see her little buzz-cut head again.