Sunday, September 30, 2007

A new Alpaca arrival!

And here she is! Narya, named after Gandalf's ring, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Thank you Silfiriel for this beautiful name!

Narya made her appearance on my birthday, which was fabulous. This is too funny, because this is actually the third cria born on my birthday in the 8 years we have been breeding! And they have all been girls too, which is such a blessing. First there was Arwen Undomiel in 2000- who you see as my profile picture. Then there was Rosie Cotton last year, and now Narya!
Cool beans methinks.

So, what now follows is a photo montage of her birth, enjoy!

Her first appearance, the amniotic fluid filled sac, with just a hint of her nose all pink showing. This is when the alpaca owner starts playing the "Guess that color" game! So far, so good, this is what we want to see.
After the sac ruptures, you should see the head present- nose and toes we call it- so far, right on! Trouble starts when you see feet first with no head, or don't see any progression at all after the pushing starts.
This cracked me up. Here she is, nose and toes (and legs) sticking out, and Lady G. is having a snack without a care in the world!! HA!
This is textbook presentation, very, very good. After the cria stayed there for a while, I thought Lady G. would appreciate a little help. The chest cavity of an alpaca cria is actually the largest part of the body to deliver, and sometimes they need just a little gentle traction. Seeing as how this was Lady G.'s first birth, I thought I would help. So I pulled carefully during a big push, and out she came!
Funny how first timers always deliver right by the poo pile, they think they have a big poo to push out! LOL
All crias are wobbly at first, some more than others. They have been so cramped in there that usually they take a day or so to straighten out, sometimes longer. They can have loosey-goosey ligaments, or sometimes contracted tendons from their position in the womb. After about 35 births, I can tell who has trouble beyond the norm, and who doesn't. Narya has some trouble with being a bit down on her pasterns, with her ligaments loose in the front legs, and a little tight in the back. Notice how her back legs aren't straight? All this will straighten (no pun intended) itself out in time, without any manipulation from me. She was a bit dysmature, not in days as she was born at 339 days gestation, so well within normal limits, but her teeth are not erupted and her legs tell me she was perhaps not completely done cooking in the oven. This happens sometimes.
Here she is saying hello to the group. Mom and she were placed in a smaller pen to bond together. You can see Rosie's black head and Elbereth's fawn one hanging over the panels. All the other alpacas are very curious when a new cria is born, and they sometimes make nuisances of themselves, getting in the way of nursing and knocking over the new babe. My llama boy Mithril is their "nanny guardian" and he was very, very sweet with her!
Trying to get the hang ov nursing, and this is where I first got my hunch she might have some trouble. See, she was a bit too wobbly to be able to stay under mom in the correct position and latch on to a teat. Combine that with Lady G. who has a huge udder, and her teats were so engorged Narya couldn't latch on to them. It got freezing here, of course! So we put on a coat for her, but as you can see, she is much smaller than the smallest (warm) coat we had! So we wrapped her in a wool scarf, put the coat over that, and I put a sock on her neck (can't see it in this picture).
She won't give up on nursing though, and that's wonderful! So, in concern that she wouldn't get adequate colostrum from mom in that most crucial 24 hour time period, we supplemented her with cow's colostrum every 2 hours all day and night. Saturday morning Lady G's udder was so engorged, we had to put hot packs on it and massage it for her to relieve some of the pressure. Narya was still too wobbly to latch on, and was getting lethargic, so we started tubing, vs bottle feeding her as she wasn't drinking any more voluntarily, with the colostrum and goats milk to get her jump started. The first 48 hours is so scary. Lady G. is an excellent first time momma, and clicks and nudges her babe into the right position to nurse, then stands like a statue while the baby sucks on and licks everywhere just trying to get it right, but if the cria isn't able to stay in that position, or latch on- she will be in serious trouble.

After a successful day of tube feeding, and a weight gain of 1/4 lb, I believe Narya is out of the woods, and we will continue to supplement her as needed, but mommas udder is starting to soften up, and baby is only getting stronger. Her legs are straightening up nicely, and we expect mom and baby both to be a great team within a few days.
Here she is this morning, without her coat and enjoying the sunshine!
I hope you enjoyed Narya's birthing experience, and now I am breathing a sigh of relief, as I know her first hurdle is over. With a cria who doesn't get mother's colostrum in the first 24 hours, there is always a risk or FTT- Failure to Thrive, which means the cria did not get adequate antibody transfers. This condition can cause the cria to be susceptible to infection and the risk of sudden death goes up dramatically.
With us getting colostrum in her, starting her on antibiotics, and tubing her regularly, she has a good chance to bypass this condition.
I always say 7 days is the clincher. After 7 days of life, I rest easy. So, I will pray, and we will all see Narya next week, healthy and strong!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Life's a dance, we learn as we go....

Hi there loyal readers,
Well, I am currently on cria watch, so I am pretty much Night of the Living dead these days. Not fully capable of functioning on a cerebral level. I thought I'd revamp an old post I did over a year ago when I first started blogging.
I really liked the premise behind the post, but thought I could do better. So, I managed to refresh it and here it is.
I hope you like it!

So I am just sitting here thinking about life. I know, I know, deep thoughts for such a... HEY!!! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ANYWAY?!?! I can read your mind you know.

Anywho- as you know, I love pictures. I hate being in front of the camera, but would hide behind one forever. That said, I don't scrapbook, or have a million photo albums and I have no idea where all my kid's baby pictures all are, I just know there are a lot of them. I like pictures. Taking them and looking at them.

I can go to a total stranger's house and spend hours looking through their photo albums. Weird? Maybe. But there is something very magical about photos. Did you know that in some cultures people believe that to take a picture of them means you are actually taking a part of their spirit? Like a part of their soul goes into the picture, never to come back into their body again. I have read stories about those same people thinking they were marked for death after someone has not respected that belief and taken a photo of them anyway. And of that person dying not long after.
How persuasive are beliefs.

Interesting to me..... when I was a child, I thought that pictures could "see" me. Like the photo was aware of what I was doing, saying, etc... and I would not have any photographs in my room. Paintings were fine, but only if they weren't of people. People in pictures, I was sure of this, moved at will when no one was looking. I spent long hours wondering where they went and what they did when I wasn't in the room. This was long before Harry Potter and the moving, seeing pictures portrayed there in, but when I first read the book it made perfect sense to me.

Two years ago I lost my best friend. She was a wonderful person, a mother of 5 children, wife of 26 years, and she died very suddenly. Jane was, to me, the perfect wife and mother. She made me want to be a better person, and her countenance was dazzling. I can't recall any time when she wasn't positive- even when times were rough. -- sigh-- there aren't words to adequately describe Jane and how special she really was...... She was in the hospital having a stint in her thigh removed- placed there to catch clots after vein surgery- and the doctor punctured her heart accidentally. This was the first time in medical history that this had happened.

When it came time for her funeral, there was a viewing.
I couldn't go.
simply. couldn't. go.

You see, I have a picture of Jane, and she is smiling. Smiling at me, every day... In those first few months when I fully expected her to walk in the door of the church we attend, when I picked up the phone to call her, before remembering that I couldn't do that anymore, I looked at her photograph, and my heart was lighter, even though it was still broken. I still miss Jane terribly, I still cry... although the dreams are less frequent of her waving at me and saying 'hi' like she is still here. This is how I will always remember her.

There is one picture I have of her playing a ring-around-the-rosy kind of game with a group of children. Her husband gave me that picture, and I thought it was a recent one. I found out though that it was taken almost 15 years ago. She looked exactly the same. Smiling, happy, radiant. I will remember her that way forever because of a photograph.

The power of photos is readily evident to me, for it seems in my life there has been much loss. Perhaps this is why photography has been so tightly linked to high emotion for me. When I was fifteen my 21 year old brother committed suicide. No one would talk about it with me, and I wasn't even allowed to attend the funeral. I had to deal with it on my own. To come to terms with the act, without any of the details or any explanation. My father couldn't even speak his name for years, and I do mean years afterwards. It was too painful for him. But here was I, wanting more..... So I cherished his last photo. He was smiling at me. He wasn't sad, or depressed, or on drugs or anything. He was just Jeff, smiling at me like he did when he was alive.
This is how I will remember him forever- because of a photograph.

This is not to say that all photos make me sad. I frequently look at a photo taken when my daughter, then only 2 1/2 years old, got caught inside a tomato cage. Cruelly, I made my husband keep her there while I ran for the camera. A priceless picture that makes me laugh every time I see it, the last time was just a few days ago, with Codi sitting next to me.

It invariably brings the evil eye on from my daughter who can't understand why I tortured her like that just for a picture. She doesn't get it- but she will when she has children of her own.

A picture I have of my son playing his guitar- such a handsome boy. At age 4 he got his first one for Christmas. He thought he would be able to pick up the guitar and play like Raffi on his first try. Little did he know as he was so discouraged after that first attempt he would become a virtual prodigy as a teen. Makes me fit to burst with pride and love. A picture of him with his face all screwed up in that impossible way only a one year old can while preparing to let loose a primal scream... I smile.

Wow, are those my kids? They are so beautiful!! Unbelievable that such children could come from me. Me who is so not perfect, and is actually very much lucky to be alive still. What a miracle.

One of me, in Hawaii in 1988. Young, and was I ever that thin??? I always thought I was fat and ugly. Wow, that was me. The lies planted in my heart at such a young age were truly that, just lies. I was beautiful.

One of my husband, in his leather jacket from Turkey, looking over the top of his glasses at me with that look... -- heart flutter -- back away girls, he's all mine :))

The problem is that some of us don't want to have our pictures taken. I am one of them, but I learned a most important lesson. See, we don't have a lot of pictures of my brother Jeff, and I only have a couple of my friend Jane. There are so many others I have lost and there aren't nearly enough pictures of them either.
Life is short, we are mortal, and the others in our lives go on without us.
I wish I had more....
We get old and cranky, we don't want our pictures taken and hide from the camera, we think it is not that important for crying out loud.
If I can't have more time with those I have loved, then I want more pictures.

So get out there and get in front of the camera. I don't care if you are fat, old, or have a mustache (um, that would be the female persuasion type I am referring to here) I need more pictures, and so do all your loved ones.
Life is short my friends, take lots of pictures, and share them with everyone you love.
Pictures are indeed magical. Perhaps a piece of us really does reside in certain pictures after they are taken. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that is true.
See you next time.
Slainte Mor~

Friday, September 14, 2007

My first award! By Elbereth Alpaca

Mousie says:
Elbereth, Lady of the stars, Ruth, Bob T Bear and Mousie are very proud to give this high distinction...You are our Blogging Star...
It's originated at Skittles' Place so she can follow it's journey. Pass it on to any blogger(s) you think should have it.
Mousie can found here: and the award is in her Midnight blog section. You should visit, it is a delightful, stress free, magical place.

Elbereth has this to say:
I am so excited! Look how beautiful I am!!!! I wish I could go visit Mousie and give her a big alpaca kiss. Dance in the moonlight for me, okay Mousie?
And I say Huzzah Huzzah!! To my dearest Mousie, thank you! And thank you for your patience, and she actually gave me this award some time ago, and I just got the time to post this!
I give this award to Sarah Flake, at:
For her humor, and passion for all things bloggy- face it Sarah, you have an addiction. You should really join me in the first step, repeat after me; ahem.....
My name is (insert full name here) and I am a Bloggoholic.
There, now doesn't that feel good! You are on your way to recovery. Forget the other 11 steps, they are just a trifling annoyance really.
Just post the first full paragraph, adding my name & link after Mousie, and pass it on!
And good googly moogly, whatever you do, keep Penny away from Twinkies!!!!
And I promise to blog again after this weekend and the fair set up!!!
To all of you, I appreciate you greatly.

Friday, September 07, 2007

clouds reprisal

Well, while I interview muses, I thought I would respond to Silfiriel! The cloud pictures I posted were actually not taken in the evening, and here they are before I retouched them.
I thought that they were pretty like this, but when I retouched them it made them more dramatic- in my opinion :)) Kind of fit my mood better if you know what I mean.

I retouch a lot of my pictures, just the standard touch up button. I use Microsoft Picture It 7.0 a lot when I work with my photos. It is really easy to use and doesn't make me want to throw the computer out the window. LOL

I don't know how to use Photoshop or anything, even though we have all the latest software for it. When I edit my photos, I need it to be fast and easy. I work with about 100 a week between my business and the blog and all.

Recently one of my pictures I entered in a contest was rejected. It is the rose you see. It is interesting to me what appeals to people. I wonder why it was? Is it the date and time? (darn that thing, I couldn't figure out how to take it off!!) Do they think it was not really mine? I don't know. Oh well, I sent another one in instead!

Right now I am busy getting ready a new display board for the Kern County Fair. It is just a tri-fold board, like for a science project, with info about alpacas and pictures I have taken over the years. It will be displayed with the fleeces that will be judged there.

So, which pictures do you like better? Don't worry, I won't be offended if you like the 'before' pictures better!


Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Muse is Dead.....

We're not sure what exactly happened, but I suspect heat stroke. It has been intolerably hot here, and everyone knows that Rachelle's Muse cannot work in these conditions.

Currently, I am in the market for a new one, so if anyone knows where I can buy a cheap muse, let me know! It must meet the following expectations:

Have a wicked sense of humor
Know the meaning of "Na-nu, Na-nu"
Be able to count to 1,000 backwards
Have the ability to leap small buidings in a single bound (erm..... just for the heck of it)
To be able to write about absolutely nothing, and still get a laugh from my readers
To be privy to provocative prose, and witty alliterations
Be able to translate incoherent babble into meaningful, tender poetry
And last but not least, it has to be good with children

Anyone...... anyone....... ???

*sigh* alas poor muse..... I knew thee well

Until I find myself a new muse, I hope you enjoy these cloud pictures I took a few days ago.
Do you see a bunny or a dragon? Is that Yoda????

Ps.... I am in the market for subject matter! If you can think of something you would like me to write about, just drop a note into the endless comment bucket!