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Thursday, June 10, 2010

A story of hope

We had just finished weighing and vaccinating the cria and attending to biscuits aftercare

when the rain started. We collected together all the paraphernalia and started to leave the field. As we left I noticed Bali had taken herself off to the opposite side of the field and was sitting alone under the big oak tree. She was still there some time later. The spot she had chosen was a favorite place for the alpacas, a large dust bowl they had created for rolling in. But not today. The rain was lashing down and it was more sludge that dust. Too far away to see for sure, but was that something beside her? I flicked up the hood on my coat and trudged down the field wondering how other folk spend a rainy afternoon.

As I approached her she didn’t move away as I expected but pointed her nose at the package on the floor and then looked at me with an expression that just said “whoops”

Her pregnancy still had five weeks to go and the helpless little bundle was laying in all the dust and sludge.

In normal circumstances mum and baby should be allowed to bond a while before we intervene but these were not normal circumstances. I gathered it up and headed out of the rain trying to coax Bali to follow. She wouldn’t and seemed pre occupied with the birthing spot. Eventually, after what seemed ages we managed to halter her and led her out the field into the barn where we were able to clean the cria up and dry it off.

It was another girl sired by Atlas, very dark solid brown almost black around the head.

She was too weak to stand and could barely hold up her head and obviously wasn’t going to suckle from mum any time soon but we decided to give it a couple of hours to see if she progressed. We kept her warm and monitored the temperature.

Eventually we had to try and get mums colostrum into a bottle and feed the cria. Not a task I was looking forward to as Bali is the most obnoxious alpaca we own.

She growls and slobbers and kicks every time you lay a hand on her.

One of my French purchases before I knew any better.

But a mans got to do what a mans got to do and as the night air turned blue and the spit flew I managed to get a little, not enough really, but it was something at least. We got it into the cria who surprisingly had a strong sucking reflex we also gave it powdered colostrum. I think it was around this time we noticed the blood on the floor and it wasn’t coming from the gash on my neck from a particularly well aimed kick moments before. It was coming from under the cria. Her umbilical cord, what little bit there was, was hemorrhaging and a clamp and more iodine was called for.

She was getting weaker and I really wanted more of mum’s milk. We decided to give it another go. The softly softly approach bore no fruit and soon descended into some Heath Robinson contraption to suspend her from the ceiling and prevent her from cushing down ,but even this only brought forth a dribble. It was given along with glucose to help her along.

Jayne volunteered to stay in the barn all night to monitor her temperature every hour and bit feed colostrum and glucose. But by the morning things were no better. An antibiotic was injected in case of infection via the torn umbilicus. By the evening she was completely lifeless with only the occasional flaring of nostrils to indicate she was still with us. She stayed like this for hours and we had given up hope. Bali was put back in the field rather indignantly because of her lack of co operation, Jayne was exhausted and went to bed and I brought the cria into the house to die before I could join her.

I layed on the settee with the cria on my lap and massaged its body, bit fed it milk and glucose every hour all through the night.

And then ,at four oclock in the morning as I was watching the Isle of Man TT highlights for the third time a remarkable thing happened, it lifted its head and started to look around and from that point within half an hour it was wanting to walk around!

I put her on the floor, but the floor was tiled and it was like watching Bambi on ice, every time she moved a step she slid spread eagled with her four legs to all four points of the compass. I steered her onto the perimeter of the rug that was under the coffee table and we slowly did a couple of laps around. She stopped , weeed and pooed on the rug and carried on. Oh joy! Never have I been so happy to have a animal defecate on the carpet!

When Jayne got up she was surprised to find me not in bed and even more surprised to find last nights ‘dead’ cria watching telly!

She continues to go slowly from strength to strength and is now back in the barn, re united with Mrs Grumpy arse and the bond is still there. Hopefully she will get strong enough to pester mum for milk and when and if she does get to suckle I’ve asked her to give her one hard bite from me!

I know she’s not out of the woods yet though.

We’ve called her Hope.


  1. What a fantastic story....had me in tears.
    I 'hope' the story runs and runs.
    I take my hat off to you.

  2. Thanks for sharing that - good luck after your determined efforts.