Friday, May 2, 2008

Additions & Subtraction

Last Monday, our 'sheep friend' Elissa drove with me to pick up our two yearling boys who at been at the CA Classic. The 1990 Silhouette van is just right for one adult or two younger alpacas. Dakota and Sorrento hummed and adjusted and cushed then readjusted the whole 2.5 hours, and they were delighted to disembark upon arrival at their new home. For four days they had been transported, penned at a show, paraded in the ring, trailered to a strange place for overnight, then ridden in the van. Enough!

But good buddies can endure lots together. They look so 'at home' in their pasture now. By protocol, they are quarantined for three weeks to make certain they did not pick up anything in their travels. So far, so good.

Huge THANK YOUs to Larry and Paula Vellozzi of Adorabella Alpacas in Grants Pass for bringing the boys up to Oregon for us!

[What secret is Dakota whispering to Sorrento?]

Our next set of alpacas arrives by Cedar Ridge Transport this weekend. The five dams and four young males will almost double our alpaca population. And we will finally get to meet Tesoro, our Casanova son born in January. We will need to step up the pace of dispensing food and scooping poop. Greeting them each morning by name is a pleasure.

The Neonatal Class at Oregon State University's Veterinary School last Saturday was timely and right on target for me. Drs Long and Cebra exude enthusiasm, humor and passion about these marvelous creatures and their well-being. The doctors' knowledge and insights, and willingness to share them, were a huge boost to me as we begin 'life with alpacas.'

There were only 12 'students' so there was ample time for individual questions and discussion. Part of the class was a lab experience where we practiced identifying -- by blind touch -- a dystocia: awkward fetal presentation that needs manipulating to correct position for birth to occur. With these practice sessions, the confidence I have in caring for our animals has increased a notch, and I am grateful that such opportunities are available, for I always want to learn.

Then on Monday afternoon, the class became very real for me. While driving down to pick up the yearling boys, I got a call from our agisting ranch that Autumn had gone into labor; but it had not progressed, so they called the vet. She had a uterine torsion (rotated or 'flipped' uterus). The doctor had never dealt with that before (he's mostly goats, sheep and horses), so another camelid vet (an hour away) talked them through how to rotate the uterus back into correct position, with success. I was so glad to have seen this very technique in the movie and photos at the class, because I could picture it exactly.

Autumn was dilated, ready to deliver her cria. It was a dystocia: anterior presentation with head turned back. He repositioned for birthing, but that was very hard due to the size. Initially, the cria was alive, but the umbilical must have been broken because during the long process to birth her, and she drowned. They reported that she weighed 25 lbs! The dam is large-framed, but not over-weight, and gestation was right at 11.5 months. She was Sorrento's full sister and would have been a very welcome addition considering the last 10 births to our herd were male cria.

We check on Disa several times a day, sometimes by peering out the window with binoculars to be less disruptive. Of course we hope that birth (our first one here) will be normal, but after taking the neonatal class, I feel somewhat equipped to identify if it is not. And that information will help me to not panic.

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