Monday, January 25, 2010


What else can you call a cria that looks like THIS???!!!  This beautiful little girl (yes, we started 2010 with a female after long strings of males last year!) was born a few weeks ago early on a chilly 22 degree morning.  We found her already dry, nursing, and warm (in the due barn, of course) with her maiden mother who was attentive and maternal.  All looked great and normal!

Then, the next day her ears began to droop, and droop, and droop.  She wasn't droopy, in fact she was as spry as you'd ever want a cria to be, with straight legs and a good appetite.   We have had very slightly droopy ears before, and a variety of other aberrations of the ears on crias.  Sometimes their ears are a bit "inside out" for a while from the way they've laid in the womb, and we have had to tape them the correct way for a week or so and then they're fine.  This one was different, and I became concerned that perhaps her ears had been frostbitten following birth.

She was pitiful and cute and funny all at the same time!

We debated about taping the ears, but within a week they were looking like this- 99% normal, and now 100% normal!

All's well that ends well, and I've thought that perhaps those rather canine-looking ears are just and indication of future greatness!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Staying warm

There have been lots of tips floating around on the internet about how to keep your alpacas warm in the extremely bitter weather.  Many of the tips are good, and we are following some here, even though we have never had a cold-weather-related illness or death in our 14 years of raising alpacas (and longer for llamas).

The MOST important thing that we can suggest is to offer unlimited, quality hay to your alpacas.  Hay is what keeps the rumen healthy and working, and the rumen is like a furnace for the rest of the alpaca's body.  It's absolutely critical that your animals have water available at all times as well or they can quickly dehydrate.  Some farms offer hot water (our 3 late pregnant girls who are cozy and cushy in the new "due barn" are getting hot water, their "tea" a few times a day), and adding electolytes or gatorade isn't a bad idea.

Observation, as always, is key and it's smart to hone in on the youngest, oldest, and lactating females who will be most vulnerable. Shivering is cause for immediate concern.  Our 18-year-old female, Satin, is wearing an "extra" alpaca coat after she was shivering on the first really cold days last month and is doing fine.  Any animal that isn't completely thriving should be scrutinized carefully, as the extreme cold is an extra stress- healthy alpacas can handle one stress at a time (like weaning, showing, etc.) but multiple, layered stresses can prove deadly.

We did follow one newer tip for our boys who are without shelter (though we can bring them into a nearby barn if we feel conditions warrant it).  We put up a windbreak along a fenceline, in a spot they already liked to lay, under the neighbor's security light.  It is made of some poorer quality hay that we are trying to use up (we had it on hand, and it's cheaper than straw).

Yesterday when it was snowing like crazy and temperatures were dropping, the alpacas gathered right alongside the windbreak, welcomed with more "good" hay scattered along the ground where all can reach it without fighting.  Putting it along the fence worked well and gave us something to tie the bales to. 

We find that the hardest thing for the alpacas and llamas is in earlier fall (or late spring after shearing), when we have driving rain followed by large temperature drops.  The drier cold is really not that hard on them- they do have on thick alpaca fleece from topknot to toenails, right?  Still, they don't appreciate strong, cold wind and those that have shelters will go inside when it's windy or wet most of the time.

It was fun watching the weanlings experience their first snow- they didn't quite know what to do about it and seemed a bit captivated by it all!

And the dogs, well they take it all in stride.  They truly seem to thrive in the cold! Shown here is Lucy, our newest livestock guardian dog (a Great Pyrenes we bought in Quechua Benefit's charity auction last spring at the Futurity).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New and Improved!!!

 If you're a regular visitor here, you've probably noticed a few changes... one that I haven't been writing much since the Peru trip and secondly that we have a new look on the site.  (The beautiful side of winter, that is!  Brrr, it's cold out there!)

I've been anxious to share our news... we are going to be emphasizing the LLAMA part of our farm name again (Seldom Scene Farm Alpacas and Llamas).  We are scaling back our alpaca herd somewhat, with a goal of getting back down to fewer than 35 alpacas (including some old girls who will live here through their twilight years).  That is a major change from our high of around 135 alpacas, including visitors for breeding.  Why?  Alpacas have been a great success for us, the "bread and butter" of our farm, but with young teens we know they'll be needing us to stick close in their years left at home.  That means going to fewer alpaca shows, auctions, and meetings.  (By the way, contact me if you're interested in some great alpaca bargains!)  We do plan to get out to lots of our favorite spring shows (check out the show schedule in the calendar overhead, just cutting back a bit overall.  Now, we're not going to all of those shows, just posted them for your convenience).

We don't plan to breed llamas, but hope to keep a nice herd of friendly geldings strictly for trekking.  Llama treks were a lot of fun and a good business when we originally did them (in the early 90's), but it was difficult then to juggle a young family, work off the farm, and nurture our growing alpaca herd.  Now our kids are mature enough to contribute to the endeavor! In addition, we have a beautiful new barn and shop area with a bathroom and much-improved trails and acreage (over 400 scenic acres now, including 3 miles of Kentucky River frontage for hiking).

I look forward to blogging here regularly about our new venture (as well as upcoming alpaca births!), but to learn more now about what in the heck a llama trek IS, or for detailed information on how to schedule a trek, check out our trekking page.