Looking at the 'blog, I realize that I have neglected to post anything for the entire month of November and, now, almost the entire month of December as well. That isn't for lack of farm events -- we've still been plenty busy -- but because "life events" finally took over to a point where things like the farm 'blog just truly fell by the wayside.
These events are ongoing, so I can't promise that the 'blog will be any less negelcted in the months to come. But, it is therapeutic -- always has been -- and it's nice to be able to tell the farm's stories. So, here's a kinda nice one: Sideways Sally the Long Shot.
To give a little bit of background: 'blog readers will likely be familiar with the fact that we are breeding for tuxedo grey alpacas, but not all readers will appreciate how challenging the tuxedo grey coloring can be to breed for. The most surefire way to produce a tuxedo is to breed together two alpacas that are both tuxedo, and both have a lot of tuxedo grey in their ancestry. Even that isn't a sure thing -- it may produce tuxedo grey, may produce black, and may produce that unexpected fawn or white that "shouldn't" have been able to happen -- but it's the safest bet.
One of the LEAST likely methods of producing a tuxedo grey is to breed a tuxedo grey to a white. Many -- perhaps most? -- alpaca breeders won't even breed white to tuxedo grey for fear that the white could carry the "white spot" (pinto) gene which, combined with the tuxedo grey gene, produces a blue-eyed white alpaca. Blue-eyed whites are often deaf, so, while there isn't quite as much of a stigma against them as there used to be, it's still something that most alpaca breeders try to avoid. Even if you aren't afraid of the BEW, however, the reality is that white alpacas just aren't all that likely to produce tuxedo grey -- fawn, brown, or another white is far more likely. If your tuxedo grey parent in that pairing happens to be a rose grey, rather than a silver, your odds drop even lower. (Silver greys, in general, tend to throw grey more often than rose, though that isn't a hard and fast rule.)
Nonetheless, the pairing that produced Sideways Sally was exactly that: a white bred to a rose grey. The white was a female that I call Peach, who is sired by a male named Hidden Hill Peruvian Dually, and the rose grey is our super-stud, Vivanno, who is sired by AML Legacy's El Duro. I just had this feeling that these two bloodlines had the potential to "nic" (cross) really, really well -- that this was one of those pairings that was going to produce a cria that exceeded both sire and dam in terms of quality. I could see this cria. I knew the potential was there. I also knew that it was a really, really long long-shot.
Sally was the very last cria born in 2016. Her dam was way overdue, and having a rough go of the delivery. Sally was pretty well and tangled up in there, and it was a bit of a tough pull, but I was able to untangle and extricate this cria and oh my goodness, I got my tuxedo grey and she was everything I had ever hoped she would be. She was not only a beautiful color, she had the head, the thick bone, and the "absolutely massive amounts of ultrafine fleece" that I knew this pairing could produce. I could not believe it. Absolutely could not believe it.
... And then ...
She stood up.
And she looked
... Even if you aren't all that familiar with general alpaca anatomy, it's pretty intuitive to most people that alpaca legs aren't supposed to bend that way. This is a condition known as windswept: one leg is bent outwards while the other is bent inwards. The situation was even worse in the back, if a bit less obvious. The windswept condition is not genetic -- it is most likely caused by malpositioning in utero -- and it will eventually straighten itself out with time and vitamins. However, it does make it really hard for the cria to walk while its legs figure things out.
So, here she was: my ideal, "Holy crap it worked," ultra-long-shot baby -- and she could barely walk. She knew how to nurse, and a great mom with plenty of milk, but still, she was just too crooked to nurse well. Everyone I spoke to said that braces on her legs would just make her nervous, so we just kinda limped her along, getting her up to nurse and bottle feeding as needed, when she just couldn't get the hang of standing. I just had this feeling that this cria -- now Sideways Sally -- was, indeed, just too good to be true, so of course, she couldn't possibly make it.
Then, the "life stuff" happened. We made sure Sally was gaining weight and doing well, but I wasn't paying as much attention to her as I normally would have been. Then one day, we realized something: Sally wasn't sideways any more.
So, there you have it. I suppose if I had to pull a moral out of this story, it would be, "Long shots can pay off if you have a clear vision." Or, maybe something like, "Sometimes you just need to step back and let nature take care of things." Or perhaps, "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be." Pick one. Any of those will work. After all, it's just a 'blog post.
K writes this stuff, for some reason that has yet to become apparent.