Thursday, January 25, 2007

of Alpacas and Kings

Aren't I cute??

BMAR's Fanny Bryce 19 months old- she's for sale!BMAR's Heathertoes- 7 months old

BMAR's Rosie Cotton-4 months old- smiling at you!
BMAR's Quickbeam (formerly known as Little boy- also 4 months)- "Is this thing on??"
A beautiful picture of a colt taken by my friend Holly Zech who breeds Fresians (someday I'm going to have one!)

So today I thought I'd share what picture taking is like on the ranch. Oh, and some other stuff too I am sure. Taking pictures of alpacas is always a challenge, as you can see there are many types or alpacas. There are the hams- take Quickbeam for example and his eyeball. He gets as close to the camera as he can, and then I can't get a good shot of him. Or he stands there with his ears down and it looks like he's some kind of weird earless alpaca or something. You can just hear them singing "I'm too sexy for my fleece, too sexy for my fleece, that's why I'm such a tease...." as they pose and prance around. (oh great.... now I'm gonna have that song stuck in my head all day.... yikes!!)

There are the ones who love to get in the way. Osita comes to mind... nobody better get in the way of her and her buddy- me- when I'm in the pen. Lovely sentiment Osita girl, and certainly I feel the same way dear but it makes picture taking extremely difficult when your big butt is in the way, or you are chewing your cud breath in my face as I am trying to get that perfect shot... of somebody else.....

There are the alpacas who would rather eat nails then get close to a 2-legger, fortunately I don't have too many of those. They require the zoom lense and a steady hand... and Osita nowhere in the vicinity.

Then there are alpacas like Hally, who can't stand still for more than a minute and always move at the last nano second from the perfect pose to the utterly ridiculous. Mouth askew chewing, bulging cheeks regurgitating cud, one eye open and shaking their head, etc... My boy Luxor comes to mind. I don't think I have but one good picture of him- and he is going to be 8 in February. He looks like a total dork in every picture I have.

Some alpacas are just naturally photogenic- like Rosie Cotton. She looks cute in every picture I take of her. She even smiles for the camera!

The other day I was having a bad day. I have been having so much trouble with my neck and back. In 2004 I was in a serious car accident that left me with hematomas in my chest, the ligaments that hold the ribs to the chest wall torn, three discs bulging in my neck, a fractured tailbone, bruising that went all the way to the bone in my chest, torn ligaments in my shoulder, two front teeth chipped, a slight concussion and kept me completely out of commission for 6 months. I was driving 55 in cruise control and someone made a left turn in front of me. I didn't even have time to hit the brakes- I just hit him. Literally I was saved by the airbag. After physical therapy for almost a year, the pain became manageable- albeit constant- and I was just starting to get back into the routine of being able to work out, be outside with the alpacas, and um, sounds silly, but carry things. Then in August of last year someone hit me again. This time on my own dirt road for Pete's sake. It flared up everything, injured my neck even further, and has made my life difficult (said with teeth gritted) again.
Having a neck injury is really a pain, er, in the neck! I'll never forget what the neurologist said when he got the MRI results back. "I have some good news, and some bad news. The good news is- it's not bad enough for surgery. The bad news is, it's not bad enough for surgery." See, surgery can fix the problem 99% of the time. If your injury isn't bad enough for surgery (although there is a high probability that with a neck injury that is non surgical, it will require surgery later down the line) then you just have to live with the pain, and hope you don't hurt it further. So here I am back in PT again and now my low back hurts too- just to shake things up a little LOL.
I don't say all this to get a poor Rachelle response, just to give you some insight into how badly my life was disrupted and how much I missed doing the regular things I took for granted before the first accident. Like carrying things, lifting, vaccuming..... okay, that- not so much.... sitting and standing, walking and spending loads of time with the alpacas.
So, back to the story- bad day, I go outside to take some pictures of the paca crias and in 5 minutes I forget all about myself and am immersed in them. Their smells, the way they crowd around to see if there are carrots hidden in my pockets, the way the crias come over to sniff me bravely then run away shouting, "Ha-ha!! I touched the 2-legger, bet you can't do it!
I forget all about having no money, the car trouble, the neck pain, the teenager worries, everything, and just become Pacamomma. Don't know any other job in the world that will do that for you. Cool beans.
Right now we have one alpaca for sale. We didn't want to have to sell any for a couple of years, but with Codi needing some medical tests, our roof still having a hole, and us still trying to rebound from the last layoff- we have to. We agonized about who to sell, I hate selling anyone! But we have sold 10 animals in the eight years we have been in business. It doesn't get any easier, let me tell you. We decided to sell Fanny. Fanny is a special girl to my daughter. See, two years ago we had every one of our girls but one deliver early. It was a terrible winter, so much rain, and it was impossible to find good hay because everything was ruined. We let everyone out on our seasonal grass as often as we could, it is possible there was some fescue in the grass mix that caused the early births, I don't know for sure. Although everyone's crias came a little early, my Osita girl delivered a beautiful big, black female cria 6 weeks early- by far too early. She had no teeth erupted, her ears were tipped down, she was down on her pasterns, and wasn't interested in eating, with no suck reflexes- classical preemie. We did everything we could, supplementation, plasma, antibiotics, milking out mom and trying to get her to latch on- but nothing we did helped and at 7 days old she died in my husband's arms as we were rushing to the vet in the middle of the night.
Codi had really bonded with this little one, and she was going through such a hard time with her own medical troubles, and feeling so crappy herself, we broke with tradition of naming after Tolkien and let her name her after her favorite character in a movie; Fanny Bryce. When Fanny died it broke Codi's heart. The wonderful community that we belong to (the alpaca one that is) rallied around Codi, sending her cards, letters, and pictures of their crias to help her through.
Enter this Hally, whom we originally named Eowyn. She was her momma's first cria, and mom's milk didn't come in the really well until the third day- often happens with first time moms. So we supplemented with colostrum and goat milk until it did- or should I say, Codi supplemented. She bonded with this little one and begged to be able to name her Fanny- in memory of the one we had lost. So that's how Fanny got her name. And that's why it is so hard to think of selling her. But you know what? I could tell you stories about each and every one of our alpacas, so like I said- it doesn't get any easier. All we can do is make sure they go to good homes and stay in contact with their new owners. Which is why my favorite customer is Holly- who has the Fresians. She is totally awesome in so many ways, but especially in how she keeps me a part of my Catalina's life, and I sold her to Holly 5 years ago! I know about every cria, and every moment- it is wonderful.
I am so truly blessed to have these extraordinary animals in my life. They are so healing, so peace inspiring, and so beautiful. Everyone should have some!
With my neck trouble, we talked about seriously downsizing. It broke my heart to even think about it! I had to say no. So now we are just trying to sell one a year. This is the first year we will have 4 of our own females due with crias. Also, we have seven females total- a record for us! I can't wait for cria season to begin!
So, I will close now with this thought. Even Al, who was a rescue alpaca with the personality of a demon possessed badger when he came, and has a face only a blind mother could love has found his way into our hearts. With training he has come around to understand that he won't be hurt, and doesn't have to be a butthead to get what he wants.
We like to call him: The King- (duh-duh-duuuuh..duh-duh-duh- ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building) because he expects us to treat him like royalty- and so we do.
Happy alpaca dreams to you!
Till next time,


Alpaca Lady said...

My alpacas do the same for me. I too have a bad back and neck.

Mousie said...

hello dear sister, I come to give you a nice massage, and comfort you with a good pot of my herbal tea...
Take care dear
love from Mousie

Sarah said...

This is a wonderful post! I saw your website from the email you sent me and have been talking to my husband about bagging the whole lawyer thing and just starting up an alpaca farm to get some freakin' equanimity back into our lives. This post confirms it - 'pacas are the way to go!

What an emotional struggle to have to sell them after giving them so much! And even though you said you didn't want it - I'm sorry that you've had such trouble with your body and pain. Is there any way you could convince them to give you the surgery to improve your quality of living?

Anonymous said...