Sunday, September 19, 2010

Summer Brook Valley Farm Hosts Young Adults

Five young adults with special needs from northern Connecticut visited Summer Brook Valley Farm on Friday, September 17, 2010.  Their teacher wanted them to see alpacas and llamas up close because she loves them herself. During their visit, they met one-month-old Chocolat; three-year-old Dante; Thunder, the llama; and Cocoa, the babydoll lamb. Chocolat displayed remarkable calmness when being removed from her mother and while being touched by so many strangers. All the visitors were delighted while experiencing the softness of alpacas, and the calm and friendly nature of all the animals.  One student loved being kissed by Thunder and Dante. They all said that they looked forward to coming back for another visit.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Llamas

We have two beautiful llamas - Gumby and Thunder.  They are majestic looking with sweet temperaments. We bought these two boys as guards for our alpacas because our farm borders the forest on two sides.  They are there to scare away the coyotes, wild dogs, and anything else that might be lurking around. Gumby is on the "boys" side, while Thunder is with the girls.  I call Thunder "Mama Thunder" because he is always so protective of the mother alpacas and their crias. Whenever anyone goes down to the barn, Thunder is the first one out, checking on who it is.  If we are doing shots or cutting nails, he is always looking over our shoulders, making sure we are not hurting his "babies".  Some days you can find him cushed in the field surrounded by the cria who are about six weeks old, named Chrissy, Luna, Chocolat, and Midnight Star. In July, before these cria were born, it was time to wean the boys born last year. They were a year old and needed to leave their moms who were about to give birth.  When we put the yearling boys over on the boy's side of the barn, Thunder paced back and forth along the fence line.  Gumby was nearby and it appeared that Thunder was giving him strict orders to take good care of "his" boys. Well, Gumby took his strict orders about his new charges very seriously.  Every time the two yearlings wanted to go outside and play in the field, Gumby would run after them and herd them right back into the barn! This went on for over a week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Babies Stealing Milk

We had four crias this summer - two whites, one brown, and one black. The mothers of the two white crias are also white, named Honey Crystal and Aurora.  Honey Crystal's baby is named after my sister - Christina, and Aurora's baby is named Luna. One day Honey and Aurora were standing side by side eating grain when I looked down and noticed that Christina (I call her Chrissy) was nursing from the wrong mom! At about the same time, Luna noticed that something was wrong too.  She walked over to Honey and sniffed her to verify that Honey was not her mother.  She then walked back over to Aurora, her mother, with Chrissy nursing below.  Suddenly, Luna jumped up on top of Chrissy's back to make her stop nursing from her mom.  All this time, Aurora is unaware of what is going on. Chrissy backed off from nursing from Luna's mom and went back to her own mom, Honey.  As soon as Luna walked away, Chrissy went right back to Aurora to steal a few more sips.  Chrissy went back and forth a few times between nursing from her own mom and nursing Aurora before Aurora realized what was happening. Aurora snorted loudly at Chrissy, and I supposed she was giving Chrissy a good talking to about stealing milk!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Late Summer to Fall

We love this time of year.  The females have all delivered their babies safely.  The mothers are fine and the babies (called crias) are healthy and growing every day.  We start planning what Fall alpaca shows we want to go to and start training the yearlings for the show ring. They sometimes balk at being put in halters and led around, but soon grow used to it. We also have fun deciding who to mate to whom, in hopes of improving our overall herd. Almost all the hay is in and it feels good to have a barn full of sweet-smelling hay.