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Weaning

March 1, 2010

Weaning is the roughest time of the year, especially for the babies. Most moms never look back once their babies are separated from them. Afterall, they’re already half way to having another and they need to put their energy and nourishment into gestating the next child. However, some moms really struggle turning their babies loose.

This morning when I went to feed the two fall bottle-fed babies (crias) that I’ve been feeding for the past 4 months (added on to six months of bottlefeeding one in the spring crop-whew!), I heard an alpaca hum a question — sound drawn out and turned up at the end–hmmmmmh? I looked and saw Natalya’s nose sticking over the stall door and when she saw me, she asked again, “Hmmmmmh?”

"Hmmmmmmh?"

I commiserated with her for a little while, offering my nose for her to sniff, and telling her that I understood how hard it must be for her, but she kept insisting, “”Hmmmmmh?” I finally had to walk away, telling her I’d go check on Natalie.

Sure enough, in a back pen, hidden from sight and hopefully sound (though I wouldn’t count on it) was sweet little Natalie, pacing the fence and humming. When she saw me she asked, “Huuummh?” followed by two more insistent “Hmmmmmh?””Hmmmmmh?” 

Natalie looks for mom

  “I know, baby, it’s hard!” was all I could say. Hearing my voice, Little Runaway, bumped up against Natalie, and joined in. I had to leave. I know, after having done this cruel thing to countless babies, that in a day or two, they’ll be fine, but in the meantime and I do mean MEAN-time,  I feel like a clod- a heartless human being.

Natalie & Runaway look for their moms

 I looked at some of the females as I reentered the barn and said, “This was done to you once as a baby and lots of times as moms, and look at you, you’re OK.”  Then I said to myself, “And you remember how hard it was to wean T & M, don’t you?” About that time I looked over and saw Natalya peering over the stall, “”Hmmmmmmh?” And I hurried back to the house.

After going to the barn to take these pictures, I discovered another weaning issue. My ranch hand asked where Buster Brown was. He was supposed to be with the other two weanlings in the far back pen. He told me that yesterday Buster had kept escaped from his first location and gone back to his mom. That’s why we put him wa-a-ay in the back with the others. He had four fences to go through to get to her.   Well . . . there he was. Content with mom, the little bugger.

We took him inside the barn until Michael could plug escape routes. And this is what we found:

Buster wants out! Prior to this attempt, Buster actually got his head stuck in the other side of the gate. I couldn’t film it because we had to get him loose. He was panicking, I was panicking, Michael was panicking. And funny thing, he pulled it loose on his own.  (Little boy pacas get awfully creative and very dumb when it comes to getting back to mom).
We put him in the back pen before fortifying it, and this is what we saw:

Still trying.

And again.

And again.

And again!Success!!!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. planejaner permalink
    March 2, 2010 10:54 pm

    I have heard it is tough on weaning days! interesting to get a first-hand “look”…I can’t imagine how you do it! I would just let everyone stay together…alas, that’s not how to run an alpaca farm, is it? Thanks for sharing!
    jane

    • March 3, 2010 9:08 am

      Thanks for your reply, Jane. It is tough, but if we allow the cria to stay on mom past 6 months, the mom is drained to much to put good energy and nutrition into the one she’s producing for the next year. They naturally rebreed 3 weeks after birth so are doing double duty for 6 months. Mom gets really skinny if the baby nurses more than 6 months. BTW, Natalya’s no longer looking for Natalie, but Buster escaped after fortifying his pen and found his way out into the field with his mom. Needless to day, we’ve left them together for a little while longer.

      Love your blog! And really appreciate getting it everyday. I’ve been sick for 2 weeks, so am having trouble tackling the writing and the mechanics of my blog. I’ll be back tho.

      Hope your day is as sunshiney as ours is today.

      Nancy

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