Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gardens, berries, and Lily

Well, summer is in full swing here. It seems that it takes a rainy day and full dye pots before I get a chance to sit down and post an entry!

One good thing about living in the country is that the colour just seems to happen. My flower garden is a wild thing, designed to look that way by Jim Merrick of Commanda Country Gardens. I told him that I don't have time to fuss, so my garden is full of native perennials that are drought resistant and spread faster than the weeds can. Throw in a long, country driveway and from the road, my garden looks fantastic. The cherry trees are loaded. I'm not sure if they are ping or choke cherries - either way, I don't like the taste. However, the birds are all over these trees that surround our yards here.

It's a great year for raspberries. We've been picking quite a few.

And FRESH YARN has arrived from the mill, via a friend heading north on a kayak trip who kindly saved me shipping costs! There is always a few months turnaround from fibre to yarn at the mill, so I had best be getting my spring fleeces skirted and batched off to the mill soon. I have started dyeing this 3 ply sock yarn today.

Every livestock farm has sad stories to tell from time to time. I choose not to write about the sad stories in my blog. So, the following tale has been a while coming as I've been guarded about the outcome. Touch wood, but I think it's going to have a happy ending and wanted to share it here.

On June 26th, our Raven gave birth for the first time. She delivered in the back pasture in the early morning. When I went out to check the girls, Raven was grazing quite far away from the cria, so at first, I didn't think it was hers. Although a bit curious about the cria, she didn't stay near it like most dams do. She looked a bit bewildered when the cria started following her every move.

Things just didn't seem normal, and after watching, it was apparent that Raven had no intention of letting the cria try to nurse.

We've never encountered this on our farm, and we tried everything "in the book" to get Raven to let the cria nurse.

To make a short story out of a long one, we ended up bottle-feeding the cria. Bottle-feeding a cria is a pretty big commitment of at least 3 months.

On the second day, we noticed that another maiden alpaca, Aurelia was allowing the cria to suckle. We thought it strange, but allowed it to happen, knowing that the bonding with the herd is important to the health of a cria.

This kept on. We would bottle-feed and then it would suckle from Aurelia. Aurelia was taking on all of the normal protective instincts of a new mom, alarming at every different sight and sound and keeping the cria close to her at all times. On the off-chance, we started giving Aurelia some lactation herbs.

When the cria was 12 days old, we checked Aurelia's little teats and found that she had started to lactate a bit! The cria, who we have named Lily, had been adopted.

Over the next 2 weeks, Lily started taking less milk from the bottle.

Lily still isn't as big as she should be, but she is strong and sturdy and plays normally. We are still supplementing her with the bottle somewhat.

This is Lily as she was at 17 days of age.

She's a beauty with brilliant, white fibre. Keep your fingers crossed that this happy story continues....


Mona from Sweet Harmony Farm said...

Hi Norma,
I too have chosen not to write about the sad stories on our farm's blog. I love your story about Lily! She seems to be thriving well, and I'm sure she'll continue to do well in your care. Your flowers are beautiful! Take care. ~ Mona

Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Thanks Mona for stopping in.

Actually, I think Lily is now 35 days old. She is not often taking anything from the bottle, so it looks like adoptive mom and grass is filling her belly.
My husband and I joke, that we will only chase her around the field for 10 minutes with the bottle, before deciding that she isn't really starving!