Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Six Alpaca Herd

     A couple weeks ago I went to trim horses for a friend of mine who also raises alpacas. She was looking for homes for 6 thin young males she had taken in for a friend. I found homes for the four older boys, and ended up keeping the two younger. Zak now has 6 alpacas.

     The very short version of the story, is that two alpaca farms went in 50/50 to buy 12 young males. They both later decided to get out of alpacas, but couldn't sell these boys for the money they paid. So farm A decided to blackmail farm B into buying their half of the alpacas by starving all of the alpacas. Basically, "We get our money or you don't get anything."

     Luckily farm B is run by a human being with a soul, and she went and picked them up when she found out Farm A was in fact starving them all. She no longer has a farm to keep them at, so they went to stay with my friend.

     The six youngest boys are just a mess. They are all underweight. Farm B just wanted to find homes for them that would rehab them, because now they aren't worth anything. Four went to friends of mine, who are spoiling them rotten and putting weight on them.

     The two littlest boys were the worst. You can feel their spines, ribs, hips, and all the vertebrae in their necks. They get around, but they are not very strong. It is likely they will never mature to full size and need lots of time, food, and TLC to survive.

     So of course I took them.

     Meet Pocket and Jasper. Pocket is the fellow smiling for the camera and Jasper is more interested in hay.

     Here you can see Jasper's hip bones. Alpacas have extremely fluffy, dense fiber. They should look quite obese in full fleece. They have to be severely underweight before you can see bones through all that fiber. 

     I look at these boys and I know that some people are just not worth the match it would take to light them on fire.       

     Here are Jasper and Andy side by side. Andy weighs 110 lbs. Jasper weighs 65 lbs. His healthy weight is about twice that, he should be around 120 lbs.

     Pocket is smaller, he is 60 lbs. He should weigh about 100-110 lbs. Being this thin will stunt their growth, so it's likely they are smaller then they should be as well.

     Pocket standing next to Snap.

     Pocket is a very ornery little thing. He is smart, and really too clever. He is one of those animals that will force you to double latch gates and grain bins. His mind is always working, he is always up to something. He has his, "I've been up to no good, but isn't it grand" look down pat. He is a class clown, always working everyone. Once he's feeling better I expect him to be a spit fire and a half. 

     I was watching him at my friends house slipping under and around the other alpacas in her herd to steal grain, and if they caught him he'd quickly gave them the whole, "Was that rude? Oh I didn't know, terribly sorry, never again" smile and pop off to go sneak underneath someone else. He also had no problems flashing between the shameful, "I'm a baby, you know how terrible we are" to bigger animals, or a dominant, "I was definitely here first" to ones his size. He snuck about the whole time without getting spit on once, for doing things that would have likely gotten any other animal a good kicking or chasing. He was giving me a good laugh, working over everyone like a little grain-stealing con man. After he arrived and settled in I thought of this, and named him Pocket, after my favorite character in my favorite book, Fool.

     Here he is standing in the middle of a hay pile, eating with Snap and Sonny.

     Jasper is also very smart, but doesn't like to show it. He sits and thinks before he does anything. Everything is calculated twice and then run back for another check. He'd be amazingly good at chess if he got past the lack of thumbs. He spends most of his time laying next to his pile of hay, watching everyone. But when he decides to do something he often has it down perfectly the first time around. For instance, he watched everyone walk across the muddy spot in front of the barn for quite some time, then picked his way across stepping on each solid high spot and never got his feet wet. For this reason he is always last out and last in every night he watches, calculates, and then walks across as the only one to not end up with soggy feet. There are plenty of kinds of clever, and he is definitely one.

     Pocket eating and Jasper watching. Cody knows this is actually a picture of him.

     Pocket says "Hello" to the camera. Both of these boys have fiber that is just insanely fine and soft. This years shearing may not be very good due to weak fiber from lack of nutrition, but next year they should have fiber that is just disgustingly nice. You have to be very careful not to drool on it while you spin.

     So now I have a six alpaca herd. It should be fun.

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