Friday, February 22, 2013

Week One Recap!

First time eating from my hand - having to reach out!
It's been a quiet week on the blog, but an active one in the barn!  We don't have a real barn, but you know what I mean.  We are all trying to get to know each other and I'm learning that trust is not built over night or over a week.

I am learning that they are gentle and I must be gentle with them.  No more tugging at their necks, no more trying to force them to walk with me, but rather learning about them and their personality and gently showing them what I expect from them and what they can expect from me.  This is key!

Coming closer for food!
They are eating out of my hand, but they are still very frightened of me.  The slightest move and they're at the other end of the pen.  We have kept them in the pen except for walks this week, but I'm going to let them out into their pasture today and hope that they will come back in to the pen when I offer them their special pellets.  The hay is also located in the pen, so with the gates open, I'm hoping that they will now just come and go and we'll only close them in when necessary. We have redone gates, changed configuration of the pen and spent hours on the internet - thank God for all who have shared information and videos on working with alpacas.
Taking Sammy's picture and he just moved right up to the lens!

I've ordered two books to help me learn how to build trust, halter without threatening them and so we're going to relax for a few days and then begin again with a new concept in training.  I need to learn as much as they do and so, we will learn together.  Mostly they need to know that I will never hurt them and that will come, it just isn't going to happen as soon as, or like I thought it would.

Time will make all the difference and so time it will be!  They are so beautiful and really sweet guys, they're just not dogs or even cats when it comes to loving their master!  They are domesticated livestock and are unable to protect themselves except by running, and so it doesn't come natural to trust even those who feed them. I have to earn their trust and I will! Just as you see in the picture of Sammy, they are very inquisitive!  They check out everything and have now started  coming up to me to sniff my jacket even when I don't have food.  I just have to stand still and allow them to approach me!  Not easy for me, but essential for them!

Stay tuned for more pictures to come and updates on our training successes - mine and theirs!  :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Learning Curve!

Well, day two was not day one!  They love their new home and pasture, but not so sure about we humans or their stall!  Lots of changes for them and for us and so it was a comedy of sorts.

Let me begin with the first night!  I went out and checked on them around 10 before I went to bed and all was fine.  There is a motion light out there and they turned it on a few times, but for the most part they seemed to settle in for the night.  I say in, but they were avoiding their stall and staying out in the pasture.  Sammy lived in a pasture without a barn, so nothing new about this for him.The night started out well!  I raised a window in our bedroom so we could hear them if there were any distress calls and, of course, there were none.  However, the dogs next door began to bark and howl and I decided it must be coyotes and so out the door I flew.  No their motion light wasn't on and they were cushed down and looked at me like I was crazy and of course even the dogs were silent!  I went back to bed.

Really excited about that food!
Day two started off great! They were grazing in the pasture and we went to church!  They were still grazing when we got home and we started doing some things around our yard and theirs.  They watched us with their typical curiosity, but walked away from us any time we headed their way.  We were doing some work on their gates and they even came over, laid down and watched with great interest.  We had been told they would come running to us and the stall when we feed them their grain and that's exactly what they did at the ranch. HOWEVER, that was not their reaction here!  This was their reaction to me when I came out with food!

Not the happiest face!
We wanted to put their halters on and walk them, but they wanted none of that!  We finally put up a temporary fence and making the area smaller and smaller finally got them in their stall.  I wish we had a video of us chasing them, them running and the ultimate herding in!  I laughed and said the neighbors probably do - I should check You Tube, we're probably going viral right now!  Haha  I'm sure at the very least they got some good laughs - we certainly did!

Always ready to pose!
Once in I did have success getting their halters on and the breeder suggested we leave them in the stall, except for a couple of walks a day for several days to get them used to the stall and learn that we're the bosses.  We're not even the boss of our little dog, so I'm praying we can learn to be in control of these three boys!  I'm going to go get some apples and carrots and see if I can bribe them with treats!

They, of course, were not happy to be contained, but you see they will still get in a line and pose for a picture!  We went out to eat and when we came back they had eaten their food and were down for the evening.  There is a lot of humming going on, but that can mean happy or unhappy, content or discontent, or nothing at all, so not the greatest clue about their real attitude!  I'm voting yesterday it was not the sound of happiness! They have their hay rack and water in the stall and room to move around, so they will be fine.  AND, I slept all night!  No trips out side, just a quick look outside, but nothing to see and so right back to sleep!  Oh, by the way we (Bill & I) both took several Advil before bed.  This morning I have sore arms and back, partly from them and partly from weed eating for hours - today will be good!

In jail!  Wish we had just come for food!
Day three is going to be cleaning out the stall, attaching the leads (halters already on) and taking them for a walk and back in to the stall!  This will all be included in the next update tonight or tomorrow and I'm sure will include some more about our learning curve - theirs and mine! I know I'm on my own as Bill happily returned to work this morning and leaves for Mobile in the morning!  Advil will probably be my friend all week and thank God for Laurence and Donna!  They are the best ever! Emails flew fast and furious yesterday and I'm sure will continue for awhile!

Jack just barked that this blog is about him, too and he wants it known that he's not happy about these three intruders!  He wants to be out there with them, but he chases them and they could kick him, so he's in his yard and he barks, and barks and barks - so most of his day was spent in the house!  Don't feel to bad for him, we played ball with him and he did get to sleep in the house!

Later, it's almost daylight - got to get to work!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

They're Here! Home Sweet Home

It's official - they're here - February 16, 2013!  It was so exciting to see Laurence and Donna Binder, Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch,  pulling in with the trailer in back!  All three boys were cushing (lying down with all four legs under them) when I first peeked in and looked quite comfortable.  Pancho and Lefty stood up as soon as I poked the camera in, but as you can see Sammy was content to stay down.

Fortunately we had put the new locks on the gates ( easy open ) and filled the  hay rack, so we were ready for them.  They got out of the trailer with their halters on and so we added a lead and off they walked into their new home.  Laurence showed us how to trim their nails and we petted and hugged on them.  Fortunately that doesn't have to be done often and I plan on walking them down the driveway, so that will help keep them filed down.  They have soft pads, not hooves, so they're very easy on the land. I practiced putting the halter on and then we took them off and let them take off to explore their space on their own.

Last weekend when I was on the couch, Bill got the lights put up around the stall and in the feed/storage room.  We put a soft floor in their stall, it could have been the floor of many colors, but decided on the grey side.  I don't think they would care one way or the other, but grey it is.  The rack is in and when the side gate is open, they will have access from inside and out.  The auto-water bowl is the covered area as is the hay rack.  Bill has worked very hard to have everything ready for them, including picking up hay this morning. We have the stall gated so when we give them their food in the mornings they will come in and we can catch them to put their halters on.  The more I work with them the more they will grow used to me and hopefully will not always run the other way.  As long as they're on their leads, they are sweet and nuzzle us, but once they're free they want to stay that way!  You walk toward them and they walk away!  They are not dogs!!!!

Laurence looked at some patches of grass that I was questioning and so I dug some up once they left and it was just Bill and I and the boys.  Oh, that reminds me we do have another boy, Jack, and he was in his yard when the boys arrived.  He can see them and he barked and barked, so I let him come back to their area.  The plan was for him to stop at the gate, like he did last week, but the boys weren't there last week, so he jumped right through and headed right for them.  They got scared and began to walk away at a pretty fast pace and of course he loves to run and chase, so this looked like a game to him and before we knew it there was a chase on in the yard around us.  We caught Jack and the other three just went back to eating as though nothing had happened.  Needless to say we have some work to do on their relationship!

Back to the grass issue, I needed to weed eat and I did and they just wandered around as though I wasn't doing anything.  They would stop and look at me and go back to their business.  They really seemed to enjoy looking around and oh my goodness they seemed to really enjoy our grass!  Honestly this is even more exciting than I thought it would be, but at the same time it was comfortable!  Like they were supposed to be here - we are happy - hope they are!

The hard part for me is leaving them alone  tonight, and that's where we are now, night time.  There's a small light on and there's a motion light which has gone on a couple of times, but then it got dark and I just had to go check on them.  They were cushing and I guess trying to sleep after a long and very exciting day.  Lefty stood up and looked at me, like what the heck?  Are you going to bother us all night? So I said my good nights, reminded them where their water is and came in!  It has been dark out there ever since, so I guess they're down for the night.  I have never even had an outside dog, so this is really hard for me, but I will get used to it and they will be fine and tomorrow is another day!
Pancho, Lefty, Sammy - Official Arrival Day Photo!

I hope Bill can get some pictures tomorrow as I catch and halter them for the first time all by myself!  He might have to be helping me rather than being the photographer, but we'll see.  I've quit looking out the window every few minutes and actually plan on heading off to bed as soon as I hit publish - so good night from Jack and the alpacas!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Walking the Boys!

Last time I posted, I said I would be going to the ranch to visit with the boys and see if they would walk for me!  Oh, my goodness, what a difference a couple of weeks made.  They walked right along with me as though they had always been doing it.  They are such quick studies!!!!

All legs!  
But, before I get to them I have to tell you about the surprise I got upon arrival.  As I pulled in Laurence was walking out the door.  He said, "Come join me - I'm headed out to check on the new baby!"  Yes, the first cria of the year was born last Thursday morning and he was adorable.  I had never seen a cria and this one was just around seven hours old. Lauarence was a little concerned as the momma was a little over due; however, he only weighed 12.5 lbs. so it was a good thing she held on as long as she did  He was small, as they hope they will weigh at least 15 pounds, but oh what a cutie!

Mommas watchful eye1
He was lying down when we got up to them, but Laurence gave him a little lift and up he got.  He has the skinniest little legs, but he was moving all around.  Laurence said they're usually walking around within five hours of birth.  Sure glad our babies aren't doing that!

He tried to run and I wish I had gotten a video, those legs flying every which way.  Cute, cute, cute.

Nose to nose!  Sweet boys.
After, enjoying the miracle of this little guy, we moved on to our yearlings, Lefty and Pancho.  Laurence put out a little food into the feeder and all of the yearlings came running.  He separated our our two and put their harnesses on and we led them out of the group.  Pancho was a little hesitant to go out the door, which required stepping over a six inch board.  I had read that sometimes even a 2 x 4 would cause them to stop, and I saw it in action.  He literally jumped over the board.  We worked with him, taking him in and out and he finally got where he stepped over with just a tiny little hop.  Lefty just walked out like he'd always been doing it!  Who knows why Pancho disliked that board so much.  Anyway we walked up and down the pastures, visited with the new baby and got to know each other.  Alpacas are very curious and so they loved seeing new alpacas and especially the baby. Momma was a little leery, but she let Laurence hold him and me pet him. The day gave me peace as I found I was able to keep them inline when they got a little frisky. At one, they do get frisky. At two, they get frisky, so I will be working with them regularly so that they can be used to educate children and others about these sweet animals.  I'm looking forward to some home school field trips in the near future.

After an hour or so with those two, Laurence went to a separate pen and got Sammy!  What a hoot he is.  He had been halter/lead trained last year and hadn't been on a lead since shearing time last April  He walked along with us like it had been yesterday.  Something to remember, once they learn a behavior, they don't forget it, so teach them the right way from the beginning.  It was, also, the first time Sammy was around the other two.  He just turned two, so he's with the two year old alpacas and the good news is that they all seemed to like each other.  They will be kept together for a few days before they come to our house to be sure they've bonded.

I left the boys behind and came back home knowing that they will be joining us soon.  I believe we've decided on the 16th of February and so I won't see them again until they arrive at our house.  Which means we now have a deadline!  We need to finish up fencing, gates, their
stall floor, automatic waterer,  and get the hay feeder in place and I'm sure a hundred other things we haven't thought of yet.  To complicate all of this, I came down with the flu (boo hiss) on Thursday night so Bill has had his hands full!  On the other hand, with my voice nothing but a squeak for three days, it has made for a quiet house for him and our sweet puppy.  Just hoping I get well fast so I can mow again  and try to rid the yard of all of the dangerous grasses and weeds.

 Things should be quiet on this blog for the next 10 days or so and then I'll be back with pictures of the arrival.