The other day, it occurred to me that we are doing The Big Shearing next week, and that I better get some last-minute fiber pictures in STAT.
I've been really, really pleased at how great our staple lengths were this year (I like to think it's our feeding regimen, but I suspect it might've been the nice, mild winter -- either way, it's great). In order to highlight that, we experimented with a new fiber-photo technique -- the "three-handed" fiber shot! ... Pretty pleased with how these came out ...
The first one is KQA's Apollo (sired by Aussie .38 Special, a very big deal in grey-alpaca land). Apollo's staple length is possibly his best feature (that, and the uniformity of crimp and length throughout his blanket), so it stands to reason that this is the best Apollo-fiber-shot we've taken so far.
These next two males are really almost impossible to take a bad fiber shot of. This is Luna Sky's Peruvian Medicine Man, and his fleece is puuuuuurty. This is also his third fleece. It's kind of amazing. The other thing that's amazing about it is how much longer it is than his 2nd ... Almost double!
Here is a bit of a close-up ...
... Last, but not least, is this guy: Black Hills Capone. Remember a year or so ago I wrote about a relative lack of elite grey fleece on the farm? ... Well, if you were wondering what one looks like, it looks like this. Between this guy and our other, arguably even more elite grey, .38 Special son Harmony, the elite grey fleece void has been very assuredly, and very dramatically filled.
... I don't think that any of the above boys have ever made the 'blog before, so, for the curious, here's the rest of them.
I can't believe it's only been a week since the last 'blog post! ... It goes to show how much 'blog-worthy stuff can happen in one week!
So, the first major farm event was Shearing #1: Sheep and Pregnant Alpacas. (This is actually not all that accurate a title, as not all of the pregnant alpacas actually got shorn -- just those that are close to their due date -- and not all of the alpacas shorn were pregnant -- but it sounds better than Sheep and Group 1 Alpacas, since no one else knows what "Group 1" is.) This shearing's obligatory "before and after" photos are brought to you by sheep, because it was the sheep that made the most dramatic transformations this round.
The most dramatic sheep of all was Licorice, the totally wool-blind ewe lamb from this post. However, Licorice didn't feel like cooperating for her "after" shot, so instead, we bring you the second most dramatic, from the boy in the same post, Ike. As a refresher, here is what Ike looked like before:
... And here he is after:
... Holy spots, Batman!
On this farm, getting shorn and revealing a whole bunch of spots is a really, really GOOD thing. (This is not necessarily the case on all farms.)
Cheever, Jiggles and Puddin -- three of our other sheep -- also made pretty dramatic color changes; Jiggles and Puddin also revealed a good amount of spotting.
Then, on shearing day, we had our second cria of the season, as expected. Why was it expected? Well, you see, our new shearer, Malcolm Cooper, had been to our farm three times last year: once to shear our sheep, and twice more to tip shear the crias. Each time, a cria was born on the same day. Thus, it was inevitable, and I was honestly not surprised when a female -- Dani Rose -- went into labor. (It helped that she was due right around then, of course.)
I was seriously hoping for a grey female out of this one (granted, this is usually what I am hoping for), and he missed the memo both ways and managed to come out a brown male. That's okay, though -- he is strong, healthy, robust and looking good, and that's what really matters. Logically, he had to be named Malcolm.
Last but definitely not least, our last ewe lambed Tuesday, giving us a tidy lambing season of one week. All told, we had five black ewe lambs, one black ram lamb and one white ram lamb, all healthy, robust and gorgeous, with no dystocias. Now THAT is an awesome lambing season!
Now that lambing season is complete (with the possible exception of a straggler who needed some time to start cycling), we now get to play the long waiting game for crias. Every alpaca breeder wishes that alpacas were as easy to time as sheep, but alas, with a gestation length of 330 - 360 days, they are not.
Next up: Last-minute full-fleece and fiber photos before Shearing #2: The Big One!
Today, Boopy got to go outside and join the rest of the herd. The rest of the herd loves her. She is pretty happy to be there herself. The first thing she did was tear around the paddock at full speed for about five minutes. (My camera was inside for that, of course.)
There are definitely times when the barn (or garage, as it were) is indicated for baby animals. Being born premature in the cold is one of them. However, I am a firm believer that the outside world is critical for baby animals, what with its sun and its space to run around and its herd members to interact with, so I don't like to put babies inside unless it truly is necessary, and I like to get them outside as soon as possible.
The lambs got to go outside today, too. (They weren't premature; just born in the pouring rain and not quite sure how to nurse on their mom yet ...)
There is just something "right" about seeing baby animals nursing their dams in the bright sunshine. I don't think I've posted a picture of Boopy's dam yet, so here she is. It is wonderful to see this particular dam nursing her baby, for a few reasons, and it's not a sight I was sure I'd ever see.
... Also, in case you were wondering why we didn't have any goats ... We got some goats. More on them later ... They're in QT right now (we QT all new arrivals), and they're still pretty shy.
... So the farm now has a baby one of everything on the ground at this time: alpaca cria, lambs, piglets, and now some goat kids. (Don't ask me why that counts as "everything;" apparently, we've decided that cows don't exist any more. Or horses. Or llamas. Or ...)
We discussed the possibility of putting them all together and taking a photo of them all bouncing around, which would probably have broken the Internet, but decided against it. For one thing, the goats are still in quarantine. For another thing, the lambs and cria aren't spotted. We need to wait until we have a spotted one of each species before attempting such a feat of Internet-destroying cuteness.
... Yes, the very first lambs of the season were born this morning -- twin ewe lambs! Yeah!! .... In the pouring rain. (Obviously.) The lambing shelter had too much hay in it and they were having a hard time finding their mom's udder, so we finally moved them up to the garage. At first, they were co-mingling with Boopy and her dam, Bee, but Bee was really not so sure she wanted to share her space with a sheep, and the feeling was mutual. Thus, the sheep got their own bay, though not before Boopy made a valiant effort to befriend the newborn lambs.
These are some of the crappiest pictures I've ever posted to this site, but ... It's a cria. Kissing a lamb. I can't not post this.
I had to spray-paint a red dot on one of the lambs, because otherwise there would be absolutely no way to tell them apart ...
10 days old, and she's still with us!
... Pretty soon, she's going to need a name other than "Boopy."
Equally exciting is that all seven piglets born the day before Boopy are also still with us! (Again, knocking on wood, here ... Just seems prudent.) Final tally was three girls and four boys -- and we'll take that!
Adorable baby pig pictures coming soon. It's unpleasantly cold out today, and they, unlike Boopy, are not living in the nice, warm garage.
K writes this stuff, for some reason that has yet to become apparent.