Monday, April 29, 2013

The Rest of the Story....

Today the wind is howling, as it is known to do out here on the prairie.  We are kind of blessed in Geraldine.  The wind doesn't blow here as much as it does just over the mountains in Great Falls. It blows quite a bit more in the spring and I like to think it's trying to blow in some better weather.

Last Saturday I planned to take my big boy on a trip to go pick up five more alpacas.  Then I got the weather report on Friday morning and it said some big ol' wind was headed our way by 6:00 am Saturday.  Not wanting to be caught pulling a good sized horse trailer in a wind storm, I decided to head out on Friday afternoon.  We beat the wind and drove as far as Sheridan, Wyoming before finding a hotel.  With a pool....had to have a pool for the rugrat.  It's probably the only reason he agreed to go along with his momma on a crazy, long trip to get alpacas.  We were up early and talked the hotel clerk into letting my boy swim a whole 3 hours before the pool was supposed to open.  After swimming we scarfed a continental breakfast and hit the road. 

The alpacas we were after had been on Craigslist for an unbelievably low price.  The gal said she had to sell them because they were moving and couldn't take them with them.  She had four girls and one boy.  Two of the girls are expecting with and early June due date.  I saw pictures and they all looked pretty good.

Well, the pictures must've been taken a while ago.  When we got there we found some very skinny alpacas.  The gal also had a bunch of very skinny horses.  Youngsters with every rib showing.  Grrrrr!!  A couple of the alpacas look "ok" but even with all their fuzz you can tell they need to gain.  One of them in particular looks awfully skinny and sad.  You can see her poor little spine and hip bones.  You aren't supposed to see those on an alpaca!!!  I looked around and didn't see any hay or feed in sight.  Just a big ol' patch of dirt.  I'm thinking that poor gal must've ran out of money to feed her critters.  But when that happens it's our responsibility to find new homes for the critters before anybody goes hungry! Ok I'll get off my soap box now....

This skinny girl is named Kate.
As soon as we got the poor things loaded, we hustled back up to Casper.  I know where the feed store is there and we HAD to get them some grub! I was worried about them making the long trip without any feed.  We found some awesome Timothy hay and put the whole bale in the trailer with them.  They dove in and started eating frantically, before I could even cut the strings.

We drove like crazy so we could get them home as quickly as possible.  The original plan was to overnight again in Sheridan.  But instead we pushed through.  We rolled in at 3:30 am on Sunday.  You should have see the joy in those little alpacas when we unloaded them into a nice, green paddock with all the hay they could eat!  They jumped out of the trailer and immediately rolled in the grass and took nice long drinks.  It was as if they were saying, "We don't know where in the heck we are, but man this is nice!"

From the left we have Zoe, Topper, Kate, Sadie and Lina. 

One of the best parts of this little alpaca adventure is how much my boy likes them.  I also love that my little rugrats can be out there in the pens with me and I don't have to worry.  They really are very gentle creatures and that is so nice!  I love my horses, but my little ones can't just hang out in the corrals while I'm feeding my horses. Alpacas and kids go together!

Bye for now,

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend Insanity

Last Friday was the craziest day that I can remember having!  Prairie Momma Trish was branding that morning and invited me to come along to "help" and take pictures.  I did find myself being useful a few times, but spent most of my time behind the lens. I was taking in all the beauty that one only sees at a branding.  The weather was perfect, clear, deep blue skies, light breeze, warm but not too warm.  What I enjoyed the most was the camaraderie of life long friends and family all working together to make a tough, necessary job as enjoyable as possible.  It's always the very highest of  honors to be invited to help at a branding.  It means you've proved you're worth your salt and won't be a cog in the wheel.

A collection of friends, neighbors and family.

I was most in awe of  "Aunt Jo".  A woman of this prairie who has probably spent the equivalent of my lifetime on the back of a horse.  Weathered by many Montana years but still an formidable presence in the sorting pen....

Her horse is the result of breeding her own mounts for seven generations. "A little Appaloosey, a bit of Morgan, Thoroughbred and some Quarter Horse that goes back to Poco Bueno."

Unfortunately, I had to miss the branding dinner.  There is always a feast after branding is done.  I'm sure I don't even wanna know how yummy it was.  But I had to go meet up with a nice fella who was leasing a piece of oil field equipment from us.  I got things all squared away and sent him on his way back to North Dakota.

When my big boy came home from school we jumped in the truck and headed out of town on a rescue mission!  All the way to Cheyenne, Wyoming! Then we had to drive all the way home! I can't wait to tell you about it!  Tomorrow.... It's been a long weekend....

But just for kicks, here are some more images from Friday morning....

The Paint in this shot is actually my new little mare, named Dice.  Thanks to Miss Sherry for trusting me to give her a new home.

This is the gear on one of the horses that was used to gather the cows that morning.

Bye for now,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Adventures in Animal Husbandry

Last Saturday was a bugger of a day.  It was supposed to be a great day!  We were finally moving out to the farmhouse.  We still have the house in town that is going to be re purposed into a (hopefully) profitable endeavour.  (More on that later.)  So we didn't have all that much to move when it came down to it.  Bedrooms, kitchen stuff and of course the dining table that my step-mom's father made back in 1975. It was handed down to me about 13 years ago and it is one of my only earthly possessions that I am way to attached to. 

And then it rained.... and snowed a bit.... and threw in some sleet.  Just for fun.  Why does it always rain when you try to move?  But we ducked rain drops and got most things moved without getting them wet.  I'm thankful for the lovely friends and neighbors that took the time to help!

Banner the miracle alpaca.

And then we had a sick alpaca.  A very sick alpaca.  I noticed on Friday evening that he wasn't acting right at all.  He kept going to the poo pile and straining but nothing would happen.  Not a good sign!  He also didn't want to eat anything.  A really bad sign for an alpaca!  They love food as much as I do!  As soon as I got the little guy caught and checked his vitals I knew he was in real trouble.  He was dehydrated for sure.  Capillary refill was slow.  All he would do was strain to poo and then go lay down. 

So I had the neighbor girl come over and she held him still while I tortured the poor beast.  First by squirting syringes of warm water and olive oil down his throat.  I didn't have any mineral oil and figured some kind of oil had to help! He was too sick to fight much and took the liquid pretty well.  We got about 10 ounces down him.  After turning him loose and encouraging him to walk around for a bit, we caught him up and the torture got worse.  I can now say I have given an alpaca and enema.  Several of them actually!  The enemas did seem to help things move along somewhat.  So after an hour or so of torture, we turned him loose to live or die.  I had a feeling he had sand colic and I wasn't feeling very optimistic.  Actually I was down right sad.  I thought I was going to lose my first alpaca.

The next morning before we got busy moving things I rushed over to doctor the poor guy.   When my big boy and I got to the barn, I warned him to brace himself for the worst.  We walked into the corral to find Banner laying flat, not moving, teeth showing, eyes still and open.  Looking pretty darn dead.  I crept over to find he was still breathing.  I nudged him and he got to his feet but he looked bad.  We and repeated the water and oil down the throat procedure and got him to take about 16 ounces.  His breath was horrible!  With his breath smelling like necrotic tissue I just knew he had ruptured an intestine.  I just knew I was going to have to shoot Banner.  But instead I doctored and prayed and prayed some more.  If he got to looking like he was in constant pain I was going to put him down. 

We left and went to haul our things to the farm.  A couple of hours later I checked on Banner and saw a very slight improvement.  He was standing up more.  A few hours after that I saw a miracle!  He was out in the pasture with his buddies and actually nibbled on some grass!  I couldn't believe it. By the end of the day I thought the bugger might actually live!

Banner and his buddy Huck.
The next morning we wasted no time getting out to do chores.  There was Banner alive and well and he was HUNGRY!! He acted like his only care in the world was food!  He happily dove into his alpaca chow and never looked back!  He is now my miracle alpaca. 

All is well that ends well.

Bye for now,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Short and Sweet

There's a snow storm expected.  I am truly grateful for the moisture. But I admit I am over the snow.  Kinda wishing for rain instead.  This time of year I start to get the itch to garden.  I have some cabbage plants growing in my garage that would really like to get outside.  I also have some chickens growing in my garage that would really like to get outside!  Just don't tell the mayor!!! 

With the snow storms continuing to roll through the seedlings and the chicks have to stay put.  And I have to stay put in the house more than I'd like to.  But today, my big boy went over to feed the chickens at Grammy and Papa's house and came back with a little present for his momma.  A perfect and wonderful sign that spring really is here.  The classic, free expression of love from little ones to their momma's for generations....

It really is here, the dandelion's told me so!
Bye For Now,

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Of All Crazy Things

So of all crazy things, we're buying a ranch, or is it a farm?  I think maybe a farm. I'll let you know how it works out.  The thing is, I need a way to have a vocation that is just mine.  The oil field is really not for everybody, including me.  I also need to be able to stay home with the rugrats.  I have always said, "I didn't have kids just to pay someone else to raise them".  Just a personal mantra of mine.  So that doesn't leave a whole lot of options here in Geraldine.  But one of the things I can do, and do pretty well, is grow things.  Critters, gardens and such. 

After doing TONS of research on what is marketable and profitable in farming, I now have quite the business plan!  More details later....  But one of the things that called to me was.... (drum roll....)


This is my new buddy Huck.  I just love this guy!
I bought eight alpacas yesterday.  It's a bit like owning a herd of fuzzy deer.  They are shy, quiet, persnickety little creatures.  But I LOVE that my kids are totally safe around them.  They just shy away slowly if my rugrats get too close.  So far every body has good manners.  The only exception was Mudflap, the herd sire.  He was resistant to the idea of leaving his lovely home yesterday and was kicking in protest.  But he seems to like his new digs and is calming down.

Huck, Mudflap, Chip and Banner
The girls are pretty lovely.  Mallory is the "mom" of the group and is a bit cranky.  But she's just trying to watch out for everyone.  Particularly her baby, that I have renamed Genesis.  She came with the name Chaos, but I'm afraid of the negative vibes.  So Genesis it is.

Cricket, Genesis and Ginger with Mallory hiding in the back.
The profit on these guys comes from selling the fleece that is shorn once a year and selling the babies.  The going rate for fleece is about $2.00 per ounce of raw fiber.  More for young fiber or light colored fiber.  Threw that info out just for ya'll that are thinking I have completely lost my marbles!
And hey!  They give me another fun thing to write about!

Let me know what you think! If nothing else, I hope you had a good chuckle.

Bye for now,

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sometimes You Get a Red Calf

I was out at Prairie Momma Trish's today.  I always come back with good things to write about.  At least I think I do....

Sometimes life doesn't go at all the way we plan!  Lately my life has been just like that.  While I would much rather it was not as upside down as it is, I realize that blessings almost always come out of tough experiences.  Some things that come to us as a struggle can actually be blessing in disguise.

 One of Trish's lovely black heifers was bred to a very nice, registered, black Angus bull.  Trish's black cows always have black calves. That's what they're supposed to do.  Yesterday, Trish got a surprise! Meet "Latte"....

He is a beautiful little bull calf, perfect in every way.  But he's red.  The one and only red calf on the place.  With his breeding he was practically guaranteed to be black.  But he's red as red, with a little pink nose.  But Trish is happy.  He's a healthy calf and pretty as can be.  He's just not what was expected.

With life throwing curve balls at me right and left, I decided to pretty much chill out today.  But the boys got restless and I needed to change my chill out plan.  So we went to Trish's and had way more fun than we have any where else.
The chutes became a jungle gym....
The pea grinder became a sensory play station....
And the old tractor was the most fun ever!
And just for fun, here's an update on Charlie.  He's doing fantastic and now gets to go out in the field!
Bye for now,