Friday, January 29, 2010

Ethics in business

I don't expect anything more from others -- than I expect from myself. Problem is: I expect near perfection from myself.

Point: You spend 25 years buying and selling llamas and alpacas. You disclose all pertinent information about them to potential buyers, both the good and the bad. "she's bad on lead; he's a spitter; she kicks; she's a great producer; he's parade ready. . ."

They call and e-mail -- asking pages of questions -- both specifically and generally -- about the animals. You respond politely and take LOTS of time helping to direct them.

THEN -- they send you photos and info about animals from another farm "what do you think about THIS girl?"

Then they drive 300 miles and buy from someone "going out of business" instead.

But do they call the "going out of business" owner with problems/questions about their animals? No. They call you, the one they didn't buy from.

Point: You send out a monthly newsletter at no small cost in time, energy and money. It is a great marketing tool and you showcase your animals for sale, rescues needing homes, etc.

Someone who gets your newsletter asks you to help sell their animals -- because, of course, you have none of your own to sell.

They choose to do none of the marketing. They don't take animals into the community, don't join organizations, don't send out flyers or newsletters, and don't have open farm days to get people onto the farm. Sometimes they don't even halter train them.

There's been a lot of that going around lately. Please remember to buy animals from the farms that HELP you with yours. Those that let you borrow a trailer; help you find the best deals on hay and feed; offer a halter and lead with every purchase; answer your e-mails over and over.

It's the courteous thing to do.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Herd health day

Monday was herd health day at the farm. Time to brush off those winter blahs, and possible parasite problems, by checking everybody out.
Tammy and Bruce came with their crew: Wade, Jeff and Dustin; Krista, Amanda (manning the clipboard) and Becca were our "cast of characters" to help catch everybody.
We dewormed, (when I say we I mean Bruce) trimmed toenails, pulled blood for DNA card, trimmed teeth, did overall health assessment and inserted microchips. There were even a few that got "touch up" haircuts.
The temps started the morning at 48 degrees - but by mid-afternoon it was breezing through the barn in the 20s (not counting wind chills). It got COLD!
That little Becca is something else. There were two crias that we hadn't managed to catch in the morning. Becca announced that she was going out to get them. "You'll never be able to catch them," the nonbeliever (me) told her.
Sure enough. She caught both Nellie Knee Sox AND Bonita and got them into the barn. Wow. Just wow. Guess she's better trained than I thought!
That left only Peppy (an alpaca girl) left. The crew went outside and caught her in a short time -- and she was dewormed and toenails checked. Then we were DONE! (Except for Denise and Gary's animals. . . and Mighty and Rocket. Bruce kept telling me "you keep saying we're done -- and then you say, 'except for' . . .)
It was a great feeling knowing that at least for now -- everyone is up to date and appears healthy.
Thanks to Bruce, Tammy and crew -- and to Becca, Krista and Amanda for such a productive herd health day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New helper on the block

The "new girl" learned the ropes today. We met Emma (age 9) at the St. Nicholas Parade. She was part of the Girl Scout Troop that assisted us with walking the llamas and alpacas.

She walked Hanse, a tall, white gelded alpaca.

Today she came to the farm, boots and all, and helped feed hay and grain; halter/lead train a couple of critters; add fresh bedding to the paddocks; help set up a new paddock for a couple of alpacas; and went home with the "hay head" to prove it!

Our experienced helper, 'Becca, shared inside tips and other great ideas with Emma to let her know "how we do things" here at the farm.

I have been very blessed over the years to have a number of young people volunteer at the farm. Started with DJ & Kyle -- cool boys from up the street; then it was Natalie -- who is now a senior in high school; then Rebecca -- who is still helping out; and now Emma.

I reconnected with one of the "followers" -- only joking -- from clowing days -- Amanda. She's a grown up now and she has learned to drive the tractor (cutting the pasture -- so awesome); operate the Bobcat (big deal stuff, here); and do everything else -- including total farm care while we were having fun at Disney World.
SO -- the committee of wonderful, stupendous, awesome young people has now swelled to SIX! Whoo hoo!

And I wouldn't want to forget Andrew -- my grandson (age 3). He was a "regular" for awhile.

Gooooooooo helpers! We couldn't run this farm without you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spinning and smiling

Today we hosted a spinning class at the farm. It was so wonderful to have so many wonderful women gathered to learn the ancient art of turning fiber into yarn.
Tammy Duensing is an awesome teacher and she does such a fabulous job of helping people -- no matter where they might be in their attempts to spin.

Diane, Ruth, Margaret, Amanda, Sissyand I laughed, ate delicious food and swapped stories while we journeyed together, with Tammy, into the "spinning world."
Then it was a quick visit into the muddy pastures to to feed some carrots to the llamas and alpacas. That darling little "Dusk" -- an alpaca girl who has been quiet, but standoffish until now -- stood and let each of us scratch her neck, her ears. She was soooo cool. What a lovely ending to a great day.
Thanks to all who made the class such fun, especially Tammy D.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Random acts of kindness

Our daughter, Coreen, has been challenged most of her life. She has epilepsy and a myriad of other issues.
She has beautiful eyes, great hair and flawless skin.

She has caused me enormous pain -- and made me laugh until I can't breathe.

She is very, very sick with pneumonia, sepsis, cellulitis and a UTI infection. She's been in the hospital a week tomorrow.

She didn't go to prom when she was in high school -- so she's never really ever gotten flowers. She did have a corsage at her siblings' weddings. But just straight out -- sending flowers to Coreen hasn't happened.

Her aunt and uncle -- from the Wier side and the Kennett side -- sent her flowers while she's been hospitalized. It means alot to me -- and I'm sure that Coreen knows those flowers are for her. How kind.

We need more random acts of kindness like that in the world.

Got a note that 3 llamas in Indiana need new homes ASAP. Have some dear friends who are heading to Indiana next week to pick up a cart (gonna teach their animals to pull a cart). They volunteered to pick up these llamas.
Another random act of kindness -- out of nowhere. Awesome.

I'm feeling beaten down (which, I may add is rare for me). These two acts have given me hope in the human race.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

rescue llamas

I'm not an expert on anything.

I do have 25 years of experience owning llamas - 8 owning alpacas.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time observing herd behavior. I am able to do that because I actually HAVE a herd.

Most alpaca owners have 5 to 7 alpacas. Llama owners about the same.

When you have dozens, you can see the interaction that happens in a herd.

When animals come to my farm with certain "histories" -- I can usually tell that it will end badly.

1. Never been shorn.

2. Not had regular deworming

3. Not been taken off of the farm for interaction with the public.

4. Feeding has been either too much -- or too little. Animals are grossly obese, or skeletel.
5. No cooling attempts by owners in the heat/humidity of the summer. No fans, kiddie pools, regular hosing to cool them down.

Animals with these histories simply can't get acclimated to a herd. They deliberately separate themselves from the herd. They don't go out to the pasture with everyone else. They are "standoffish" and refuse to blend/interact.

Within two months they are likely to die.

I know this sounds harsh, but it's a fact of life here.

I might be done taking in animals with these histories in the future. It is not less painful to lose them -- the mystery of their passing is troubling.

I just experienced two losses of animals that fit this description. Sadly, I never seem to learn.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lightning strikes twice with Holli Kay

Holli Kay is a big, chunky, female llama that came to us from MI a number of years ago.
Her former owners were downsizing and needed a "safe forever home" for their remaining llamas, so they drove them down to St. Louis and we took them in.
Holli has never had a cria on our farm. She has gorgeous ears, and often throws them back like "Jar jar Binks" of Star Wars fame. She isn't particularly pleasant, although she is cooperative for shearing, toenails, routine care. And man, can that girl eat.
Here's the deal. It is extremely unusual for a female llama to "graft" an adopted cria and let him/her nurse. They might let them snuggle for warmth -- or even follow them around -- but nursing is another thing entirely.
Now remember that Holli has never had a cria on our farm. A little over two years ago she was riding along to the University of Missouri with a very sick mama and her 5-week-old male cria. We needed a donor for a possible blood transfusion, and healthy Holli Kay was the perfect candidate.
When we arrived at the university around midnight -- we opened the back of the trailer only to find Xena had passed away during the 125-mile ride. I was beside myself. Not only had we lost the mother -- but here we had a 5-week old cria who needed to nurse -- and no mama.
Drove back home (got home around 4 a.m.) and put Vision, the little boy, in with Holli in a small pen for several weeks. Tried to bottle feed -- it was a definite no from Vision. Tried tube feeding (under vet supervision) and that lasted 10 days.
What to do, what to do?
Nature took over. Holli started letting Vision nurse and yup -- she began producing milk. Wow. Just wow. She saved his life.
Due to his overhandling as a youngn' we gelded him when he was old enough and he is one of our most fabulous public relations llamas. Goes into the community, to parades -- endless hours of people-to-people fun.
Guess what?
I bought an auction mama llama and her female cria in September. Mama had never been shorn, nor cared for properly (from observation and my opinion). Mama died in December. Put Clementine (the girl cria) with Holli Kay for a week -- same pen.
Yup. Holli Kay adopted her and lets her nurse. The photos are of Holli and Clem heading out to the pasture (crias typically follow their mamas) and them in the barn with Hanse(white alpaca -- who appears to be winking at the camera).
Hats off to Holli Kay. She's a keeper.

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Hay" -- it's winter!

One of the cool things about owning llamas and alpacas is this: no matter what the temps -- wind, rain, snow, ice -- you have to spend a little time outside each day. It makes one hardy.

This photo is of a few of my critters at the big, round bale I put out. I have hay in the barn, too -- but some prefer the great outdoors for munching.

That's Peppy on the left -- she's an alpaca. "Oh dear my Goodness" is the beige girl who's turned her head to see the photographer. She's a lovely girl with a sweet personality and a small reddish "heart" on her blanket.

Looks like Hanse behind Peppy -- he's a big old gelding who was recently in the St. Nicholas parade. Might be Yzma on the far right, behind the bale. With a llama sitting on the left.

These are mountainous animals -- by history and evolution. They love the winter and enjoy the brisk cold. It means nothing to them to have a blanket of snow on their backs and meander the pasture looking for those hidden blades of grass.

Some of them never leave the barn in winter. They like the "salad bar style" of hay feeding that is always available. They are mostly the older girls.

Hurrah for winter!