Friday, November 19, 2010

Going home...

BJ in 2002
The matriarch and oldest member of our herd, 3Peruvian Betty Jane, passed on to greener pastures last night. She had been with us longer than any other animal on the farm, since we purchased her at the 2000 "Sale of the Century", the first private alpaca sale ever held (it was a glitzy affair, held at a hotel/casino in Atlantic City, sponsored by WoodsEdge Wools Farm).

Betty Jane was a unique "harlequin" grey with stunning coverage, fineness, and a special presence and dignity about her. She appeared almost fawn when her fleece was grown out, but was a solid silver underneath with spots only on her face. She was our most expensive purchase to date, and we were very excited to add her to our then-growing herd. (We also purchased 5Peruvian Aymara in that auction, she's our second-oldest girl and one of our most outstanding producers).
BJ and her multi-champion son, SSF Peruvian Seabiscuit
Betty Jane never gave us the unusual greys we coveted, though we did have several nice crias from her before infertility issues turned her into a non-breeder. We didn't mind keeping her around, as she was a good sentry and herd leader (sometimes too smart for her own good), and her fleece stayed fine and soft with a very low CV throughout her lifetime.

Like most direct imports, she never came to fully trust humans but instead of being nasty, she mostly just objected with high screams and an angry expression when getting shots or her nails trimmed. She's the only alpaca that I knew to have no birthdate listed on her ARI papers, though her prior owner had listed her birth year as 1993 based on import records, so she was at least nearly 18.BJ and another favorite, Machuca, also now passed
We sold a single female to a new breeder this summer and we gave them Betty Jane as a companion. When I visited their farm recently, I was shocked to see how much weight she had lost and it was as if her age had suddenly caught up with her. We agreed to bring her back here so that she could winter over in a tight barn with a coat on if necessary and be pampered with good hay, and we would give them a different female instead.

Before I could do that, I got a call the other day from her new owners that Betty Jane was down in the field (though they were able to get her up again), and I went to pick her up yesterday. She walked willingly but feebily to the trailer, as if she knew she was going home. When we got here, she pranced into the barn and immediately began chomping hay. Later she was having trouble getting up, and she passed quietly during the night.

I was only a little sad about this, as I know that she had a much better life and death than many or even most animals and even people will have. If she had stayed in the high mountains of Peru, she would have likely been slaughtered at an early age and eaten, partly due to the realities of the culture and farming economy and the need for protein in a place where few food animals thrive. If she were human, she may have been poked with needles and hooked to machines so that her life could have been lingered a little longer, possibly prolonging suffering and inducing fear and a lack of control. Instead, she died peacefully at "home" after a long and productive life where her essence and contributions were appreciated. RIP, Betty Jane.
Sahara Rose
P.S. We have a great-granddaughter of Betty in our herd, CH Peruvian Sahara Rose. She is the same color and also has exquisite fiber and a sweet but vocal disposition.


foxlily said...

It is always sad to lose an old friend.

Dianne@sheepdreams said...

Lindy, you've written a wonderful obituary for a member of your farm family. BJ was lucky to have been under your care for most of her life.