Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Progress with our Alpaca

I entered the corral alone today!

I did the feeding and helped with the mucking as we have been doing for the last few weeks.  Since this has been working well, I asked my husband to wait outside the gate while I put wood pellets on the muddy spots of the big boy corral.

I carried my trusty tennis raquet, told the alpaca to move back and sprinkled wood pellets on the mud.  For the the most part he respected my presence.  He did not enter my space, but took longer to disengage. 

When we finished and I exited the corral, I was shaking like crazy.  But I was in the corral alone!  I consider this major progress.  We will do this a few more times before moving to the next step.

I want to thank everyone for the positive feedback and support.  I am encouraged to learn that some have had similar situations with quick and positive corrections.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Progress with the Alpaca

It's been about a month since our incident. Progress is being made. My injuries are nearly healed.

As I mentioned here, I have been working to establish my dominance with our alpaca. I'm not yet ready to enter the corral alone, but I have been doing all of the feeding and helping my husband with the mucking.

The alpaca's behavior is much more relaxed. He is staying away from me as long as my husband is around; which means I am able to empty and fill the feeders without fear.

However, if I am near the corral alone he still wants to challenge me. Yesterday he reared up against the fence as I approached. I immediately raised my hands and yelled "no." He got down, turned away and did not challenge me again.

The next step is to have me do all of the chores in the corral with my husband standing by. If that goes well, my husband will move to outside the gate.

Our goal is two-fold: first is for me to do all of the chores unsupervised prior to the LA Marathon in March and second is to be able to halter and handle him prior to shearing at the end of April.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Everyone Loves the Dog

We have a great dog.

He is the laziest dog we've ever had, but, he loves Hubba more than anything.

He used to take himself out for adventure, but now that the alpacas are here, he's happy to have work to do.  He loves riding in the car, bed of the truck, trailer and on the back of the ATV.

We adopted him a few years ago from the Ark-Valley Humane Society in Buena Vista, Colorado.  He is a Shar-pei/Rottweiller cross.  He is the second such mix we've had and we love him very much.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Aberrant Behavior Syndrome

I've been trying to figure out how to tell this story. It's always easier to tell a difficult story when you have learned the lessons that are being taught. In this case, I am still figuring it out.

Just over two weeks ago, one of my alpacas attacked me.

He jumped on me while I was haltering him. He pinned me 4 times. I pinned him once. While he had me down, he bit me several times; on the face, ankles, legs and backside. The duration is fuzzy, but we wrestled for quite some time. This alpaca had decided that I was a threat to his territory.

This is the first time in my life I had ever been in a physical fight. I have no idea why he stopped.

Now that I've had the distance to think more clearly and do some research, I realize that this alpaca had all of the signs of Aberrant Behavior Syndrome (ABS) or as it used to be called, Berserk Male Syndrome. This alpaca was friendly from the first day I met him. He was the first to the fence when we visited the farm. He was in the way when chores were being done. He would pull my pony tail if I spent too much time paying attention to other alpacas. So when the ranchers offered him to us in a package, we accepted. I didn't know any better. I don't blame the selling ranch. I don't think they knew.

I have not been able to find a lot of information on ABS. What I have found relates to stopping it in juveniles as soon as they begin to exhibit the behavior. Unfortunately, this alpaca was an adult when we met him and is 4 1/2 years old now. He is proven and conveys is luster and volume to his cria.

I was injured from the attack, but fortunately nothing was broken and no stitches were required.

My husband and I went through a lot of emotions as we discussed options for how to remedy the situation. We spoke with a couple of breeders and our vet. We decided to geld this alpaca and work to improve his behavior.

We keep this alpaca with the big boys. I am able to handle, feed and muck all of the other alpacas we have.

We have been working with him a little each day. Initially, with the aid of a tennis racquet I have been making myself much bigger, from the safety of outside the corral.

A couple of days ago, I felt comfortable enough to help my husband with the mucking chores, but always with one eye on the alpaca.

Finally yesterday, I fed them. My husband was there, but I did the feeding. I feel like this is a huge accomplishment. It will still be a while before I am comfortable enough to be in the corral with this alpaca alone, but we are making a lot of progress.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday - It Fits!

Thank you to my Twitter knitting buddies for offering advice on how to decide how many stitches to cast on for my husbands hat.

He says he likes it.

Find more Fiber Arts Friday awesomeness over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday - a Knitting Anniversary

Today is Super Bowl Sunday where the Saints will meet the Colts in a battle for who's the best in American Football.  As I write this, the hoopla is starting.  The game doesn't start for four hours, but the televised drama is begining.

For me, the Super Bowl marks a begining. 

Last year, during the Super Bowl, I spun some goregeous black suri alpaca for my very first knitted hat with real needles.  I had knitted several hats using a loom and tried to knit a scarf that became quite boring.

During the game, I spun enough yarn to knit my very first London Beanie.  The yarn was ok.  Chunky and thin.  Overspun in places.  But it was the first hand-spun I used to make something useful.

I had to knit the hat twice because I did not understand the relationship between a pattern's stretch and the finished size.

But I finished the hat and gave it to my friend.