Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The last two weeks have been fairly busy out here at Alpacazona Farm. It started out when I discovered George, one of our borders, with an injury to his eye. I haltered him and tried to gage how bad it was. The tissue surrounding his eye was so swollen that I couldn’t even see if he even had an eye in there. It was late in the day and I couldn’t get a hold of his owner, so we flushed it out with saline as much as we could and left it until morning. I had thought about separating George from then others and locking him up in the barn, but he tends to fret when he is separated, I knew that the alpacas would all settle down for the evening shortly after sunset, so I left him where he was and hoped for the best.

George's eye injury
By the time I went out for morning feed (at four a.m.) I could see from the glow of my flashlight that the swelling around George’s eye was almost gone and there was just a little discharge. We flushed it out a couple more times over the next two days, and I’m happy to report that his eye is as good a new. It’s amazing how quickly they can go from normal to “oh my god he popped out his eye!” then back to normal.

George three days later.
As soon as we were done messing with George’s eye, it was time for our yearly teeth trimming. Of course George was on the list to be trimmed. All in all, I imagine George thought he was having a bad week.

The weather has been so nice recently that I have been doing a lot of yard work. All the gardens are growing well and Jim and Dot have helped me put some old pallets up on the barn wall to act as a trellis for some luffas that I thought I would try to grow this year. Hopefully in four or five months I’ll have some spongy looking things to show for all this effort.

Finally, I found some new hay I’m trying out. Hay has always been an issue for us. Alfalfa and bermuda are plentiful in this area, but alfalfa is too rich as a steady diet and the alpacas really don’t like bermuda. We usually buy timothy hay by the semi load and bring it in from the north, but the last load we got was so expensive and of such poor quality that I have been aggressively looking for other options.

I stumbled across a farm nearby that was growing a native grass mix last fall. Unfortunately, he was just about out by the time I came across his ad, but he told me he would be cutting some annual rye grass hay in February or March.

I picked up two bales this week and have been mixing it in when I feed the alpacas. While perennial rye should be avoided because of a fungus that grows on it, annual rye grass is okay. (at least according to all the articles I’ve read)  The alpacas seem to like it. I have yet to send a sample off for testing, but if the numbers come back where I need them, I’ll be feeding the critters rye grass hay this summer.

 Unlike other types of hay, this is very short and doesn’t hold together in a flake so when you cut the strings, it looks like a big pile of lawn clippings. I’ll have to make sure I open the bales in a location where I can easily sweep it all up.

The next big event (at least the next planned one) will be shearing in April.


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