What a great adventure we had yesterday as my neighbor Gayle and I set forth to visit Mother Hildegard at Our Lady of the Rock Monastery on Shaw Island and pickup some new additions to the growing Paca Pride family!
It was an early 6am start as we drove the ranch truck and trailer to the Anacortes ferry. It is a long ferry ride to several of the San Juan Islands, but what a beautiful day for being on the water. Gayle was the photographer for this adventure and so we’ve got a lot of great pictures to share with you.
Last week I got an email from Mother H. asking when I was coming for these 4 alpacas she had. I had completely forgotten that she had these 4-H animals for us! So I quickly shifted gears from the house punch list (a welcome break indeed) and spent Monday preparing the paddock and trailer for the new arrivals. This is actually the first time we’ve used our 1978 stock trailer to haul any animals around since we got it last year. For sure, I was a wee bit nervous driving it, but you hardly knew it was behind the truck.
You may recall that it was Mother H. who watched our llamas during the construction of the house, barn and pastures. October of last year we went and picked them up and brought them to the ranch. So, the journey was going to be a repeat except instead of llamas we’d be getting alpacas and instead of a trailer we borrowed, we’d be using our own.
Three of the boys are gelded males, good for fiber production. They are two year olds and have yet to endure the experience of being shorn(a task we add to the list). The fourth is a 10 year old, intact male stud whom we could possibly use for breeding purposes. One of the boys is actually a blue-eyed alpaca. While generally a recessive trait, blue-eyes on an alpaca is also closely associated with deafness in the animal, so we’ll have to watch "Azul" closely to see what develops there. His fiber however, looks great. As a matter of fact all of the boys have great coverage and density on their blankets, a good sign that we’ll have plenty of fiber to harvest in the years to come.
Herd introductions went completely as expected with Uber (our white adopted llama) causing his usual ruckus and asserting his claim to dominance in the herd, all of which is in his head. The other four llamas just came up and said hello and left it at that. Surprisingly, two of the alpacas stood right back up to Uber and put him in his place. I fully expect that it may take a while for them to settle into the hierarchy, but was pleasantly surprised that their wasn’t much commotion the next day.
I spent most of today with all of the animals in the paddock doing a lot of hands-on T-TOUCH exercises with each animal. I learned these through a previous training class I took and it gets them all conditioned to being touched in a manner that they see is safe for them. Of course, I started with Uber who hates to be touched. Pushing him too far and he just starts to spit back and get upset, but I stood my ground with him and spent a good deal of time on him. After him, all the rest were a piece of cake to work with. After I worked on the alpacas I turned my attention to the other llamas and they just lined up awaiting their turn in the catch pen.
So, we now have a herd of llamas and alpacas mowing the pastures down. As soon as the grass around the house is established, I’ll be bringing them up here to mow some more too! Hope you enjoy the pictures!