The Day the Alpaca Lifestyle Nearly Killed Me

The Day the Alpaca Lifestyle Nearly Killed Me

WARNING: This post will deal with semi-graphic events of a farming nature which may include references to animal mating instincts, alpaca-on-alpaca violence, and fantasized violence towards an alpaca by a human.  If you find this disturbing, join the club.  Now that you are warned, you can decide for yourself whether or not you wish to proceed.


Hey there.


I know.  It’s been awhile since my last update and I’m sorry.  A lot has happened since my last post.  There have been some pretty cool things.  Sapphire and Fiona gave birth to a boy and a girl, respectively.  Heidelberr Farms has two adorable little alpacas spronking around and causing adorable chaos.   


Oh, and then there’s also the little teensie issue where I posted this a few months ago but forgot to change the setting from private to public.  Once you finish through to the end, you will see how this is not at all surprising.


I digress.

(Oh! If you could read this while pretending that it’s still October, I’d appreciate it. Cool, thanks.)


mommy, baby, and auntie alpaca

Fiona, Baby, and Auntie Abigail before things got weird


In a rare turn of events, I was present for both births AND I caught both of them on video.  Someday when I get some extra time and can figure out the editing software, I will post the videos. Someday.


In between daily chores and random projects, each day is actually fairly predictable and kinda boring.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually thrive on it.  Now that I think about it, I probably should use the word pastoral instead of boring.  Also, it’s peaceful.  Yes, that’s it.  


You might not believe me, but there are days around here where it is anything but peaceful.  


This is the downside of having babies on the farm.  It’s one of those pesky things that we just can’t get away from no matter how hard we try.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Stupid consequences. 


Newborn baby alpaca

Pretty little thing

On an alpaca farm this means that the consequence of having females who aren’t pregnant any longer is that there are herdsires on the other end of the property who know it.


As much as I love birthing season, it’s pretty stressful and it feeds my neurosis.  There is the constant worry that something might go wrong.  It hasn’t yet, and it probably won’t, but there’s always that niggling doubt that comes with “what-if” questions.  While these worries do have some basis in reality, they’re really just me needing something to obsess over.  So I do.


After the babies are on the ground, I need to continue my obsessing and so the babies must be weighed regularly to ensure they’re getting enough milk.  If they’re not getting enough milk, they need supplemental feedings.  If the babies are okay, then I need to obsess on the mamas. At the core, these are just regular husbandry items that responsible animal caretakers do.  I just feel the need to internalize them to the very edge but-not-quite tipping over the line of unhealthy levels.  It’s a thing that I do.  


It’s a LOT of energy being expended here, just so you understand.


When I’m finally able to go to bed at night, then another level of obsession comes up since birthing season always seems to coincide with the natural coyote cycles.  We won’t have a coyote presence for months until babies arrive and then the coyotes appear like magic.


Now, our coyotes are well fed and not desensitized to the presence of people and so I don’t obsess too much about them just yet.  However, when the alpacas sound an alarm call in the middle of the night, I still feel compelled to check on them just in case.  


Leading up to this fateful day, it was fairly normal for the alpacas to sound the alarm 2 or 3 times a night every night going on four  weeks.  Four weeks of interrupted sleep.  


In all of this, Abigail has decided that she needs extra attention as well.  She was bred last fall and while her breeding initially took, the pregnancy did not sustain.  She has resorbed her cria and is once again open and hormonally confused.


The tension in the boys’ paddock has been bad enough with their vying for attention of the newly open Sapphire and Fiona.  But Abigail’s flirtations have been absolutely torturous for them.  

foggy morning alpacas

The Boys on a Peaceful Morning

To be fair to Abigail, she’s had it rough.  She put up with a lot of abuse from Sapphire and Fiona while they were pregnant.  And now her own hormones are turning against her.  It’s a lot to deal with.  So while I understand why she feels the need to instigate fights between her potential suitors, her frustrations are starting to take a toll on everyone.  It’s especially hard knowing that she’s having such a hard time and knowing that she can’t be bred for a few more weeks yet no matter how bad she thinks she needs it now.


I’m building up to it, I promise.  I just need you to understand the weeks prior and how these things contributed to the massive eruption that followed.


This is the story of one of those not-so-peaceful days.


Here’s the timeline:

5:30 PM   I start evening chores.  


5:37 PM Abigail has decided that she is sick of me not doing anything about her frustrations and has taken matters in her own hands by mounting Fiona.  I don’t need this right now.  I make a brief attempt at distracting her in hopes that it will get her to stop the behavior.  It doesn’t, but I have things to get done before it gets dark so I can’t spend time on this right now.


5:45 PM I resume chores


5:50 PM I once again return to the girls area to chase Abigail away from Fiona.  She is ignoring Fiona’s attempts to run away and is getting increasingly assertive with her efforts.


5:55 PM I resume chores


6:18 PM Louder than normal screaming is coming from the girls side.  I quickly throw the last of the food to the chickens and walk around the coop.  I find a scene that causes me to nearly drop the egg basket.  Abigail is not only chasing Fiona around the pasture, but she is actively chasing Fiona’s cria away and preventing her from nursing.  This is unacceptable.  I quickly make my way into the girl’s pasture and towards their shelter.


6:20 PM As I open the gate to the girl’s shelter, I watch in amazement as Jovie pops off the bottom board of the fence that separates her from the new moms.  Before I can take another step, she manages to crawl right underneath the fence.  If this weren’t bad enough, she whirled around and–I promise you–gave me the most proud and smug look I have ever seen on a human, let alone an alpaca before trotting off happily to rejoin her family.


6:20:10 PM I run after Jovie to wipe that stupid smirk off her stupid face.


6:22 PM I give up on chasing Jovie back into the weanling pen and return my attention to Abigail who continues to terrorize Fiona.


6:30 PM I am still chasing Abigail chasing the baby chasing Fiona running away from Abigail


6:31 PM I am now torn since Juliet, Remi, Rocketman, and Tink are eyeing the escape route laid out by Jovie.  I figure that plugging this hole should be my next priority so that I won’t end up with more alpacas into the mix of alpacas being chased by me later.


6:40 PM I have just finished dragging a cattle panel over to the weanling side of the enclosure and have barely had a chance to prop it up.  It is now sunset and it’s getting very difficult to see.  The boys are now in an absolute free-for-all and are embroiled in the worst fight ever.  I quickly slap on a haystring on the panel so i can assess the situation.  


Situational Assessment: Yup. It’s a bad fight.


6:41 PM There’s not much I can do about the boys at the moment, so I resume my energies to chasing Abigail chasing the baby chasing Fiona running away from Abigail.  I remember now that this is what I had started out to do in the first place.


6:45 PM I finally manage to get Abigail isolated outside of the shelter.  I am feeling a fair amount of guilt in shutting her outside and out of view of her herd mates.  Any guilt at leaving her to spend the night alone in the elements is quickly squashed by remembering that I have just spent the better part of an hour chasing her chasing the baby chasing Fiona running away from her.  


I no longer feel guilt.


7:00 PM With mom’s help and assistance from the flashlight app of our iPhones, we manage to get the cattle panel tied in place.  Jovie is still a renegade within the mama herd, but at least the yearlings can’t escape. If I have nothing else, I have that.


As it turns out, I have nothing else.


7:05 PM I head over to the boys side.  Mom has already gone to the house to get the super secret weapon.  Their fight is now going on a half hour with no sign of slowing down.  This really is the worst I’ve ever seen them.  There are open females on the other side of the field and they KNOW it.  


7:10 PM Mom has arrived with Bonnke the Newfoundland to try and bring peace to the situation.  The dogs are our secret weapon against fighting alpacas.  Normally, the boys stop fighting instantly and then run over to greet the dogs.  It’s not fear of the dogs that breaks up the fights, it’s curiosity.  The alpacas are usually as delighted to see the dogs as the dogs are to see the alpacas.


Tonight, they don’t care.  


Pain does not exist in this dojo.  


Fear does not exist in this dojo.  


Newfoundlands do not exist in this dojo.


There is no stopping it.  There is only…the war


7:15 PM Still working to separate the boys by chasing Elwood chasing Jake chasing Henri chasing Esteban chasing Baby Burton chasing Elwood.  If the situation weren’t so bad and if I still had a sense of humor (it died forever at 5:37 p.m.) I would think the only thing missing from this scene is a musical accompaniment of Yakkity Sax.  


7:20 PM FINALLY the boys settle down long enough that between Bonnke, the hose, the iPhone flashlight app, and the really big garden rake, mom and I convince the boys to leave the larger paddock and enter their smaller dry lot.  The smaller area reduces their available fighting space and helps to further deflate their egos.  


Or something.  Whatever.  You know what?  I don’t even care anymore.


7:30 PM We collapse in the seat of the golf cart.  I re-evaluate my life’s choices.  I’m not entirely sure where I went wrong, but I feel that I can probably trace it back to Kindergarten.


7:32 PM We drive back to the house when mom gets the fateful call of “what’s for dinner”


7:33 PM After much soul searching, we finally rule out alpaca.  It’s tempting–but honestly–it’s just too much work at this point.


Thankfully, the rest of the night was peaceful.  There was no further screaming and humming, so no one is stressed.  Well, the alpacas aren’t stressed.  


In a minor miracle, that night I slept deeply for the first time in a month.  There are no coyotes on the hunt.  There are no 2 a.m. alarm calls.   


I wake up refreshed.


7:00 AM Abigail is resting in exile outside of the girl’s shelter.  She seems calm and peaceful and still has plenty of hay and water.  I leave her be so as not to disturb her.


7:10 AM Fiona is doing well.  She eats her pellets in peace as we give baby girl her morning bottle.  All is well in the kingdom.  


7:12 AM Jovie still has that blasted smirk on her face, but since I’ve had a full night’s sleep I am able to resist the urge to throttle her.


7:20 AM At the boy’s shelter, they file in one by one for their morning hay.  Elwood first.  Jake follows.  Henri comes to a skidding stop with Baby Buron hot on his heels.  Esteban limps slowly behind.


7:21 AM Wait.  Esteban limped slowly behind?


7:22 AM Bang head against wall and make a quick call to work explaining that I’m going to be late.


As it turns out, pain did exist in this dojo and Esteban was finally feeling it.  Thankfully, the cut he received to his foreleg during last night’s melee was fairly superficial.  There are some things that don’t show up when the boys are on an adrenalin high and you’re working by the light of an iPhone.  Some things, like the big puddle of blood in the paddock, only come to light, well…in the light.


This, my friends, is the alpaca lifestyle in all it’s glory.  I hate to break it to you, but it’s not always as peaceful as the “I Love Alpacas” commercials make it appear.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Oh, I do enjoy looking out my window and watching my alpacas spronk in the pastures.  I do enjoy listening to them hum to each other.  I enjoy the softness of their fiber and the way it rolls off in a lustery waves on shearing day.  


But, please friends, don’t forget that LIFE is part of the lifestyle and the cycle of life will override your style of life every single time.


This is life, the same as yours with different characters.  It’s so easy to compare our imperfect lives against carefully edited images on Pinterest and feel that we must be doing something wrong.  That somehow we’re less than adequate.


You’re not inadequate.  If your life doesn’t look like a Pinterest Fail more often than not, THEN you’re doing something wrong.


The alpaca lifestyle nearly killed me, but it didn’t.   At least not until next birthing season.


Now, if you all would do me the favor of reminding me of all of this when September rolls around, I’d appreciate it.



adorable baby alpaca

Adore Me



3 Surefire and 1 Unreliable Way to Tell if you have Fighting Alpacas

3 Surefire and 1 Unreliable Way to Tell if you have Fighting Alpacas

3 Surefire (and 1 Unreliable) Ways to Know if you have Fighting Alpacas


If you have spent any time at all around animals, you understand that all is not always peaceful in the kingdom.  You’ve probably heard well meaning people wish that people were more like animals so that the world would be a more peaceful place?




Tripe and lies.


Now alpacas are great.  As a species, they are fairly laid-back and peaceful.  Alpacas aren’t inclined towards human aggression, although I always espouse caution when working with any animal, alpacas included.  


If you work with animals long enough, weird things happen.  Occasionally, even the most patient and kind family dog or “bombproof” horse will have a bad day and someone will end up hurt.


Inter-species aggression is common to many creatures and alpacas are no exception.  Most cases of aggression occur between intact males.  Sorry guys.  I’m not hating on anyone here, but a consistent factor across creation is the fact that dudes have a tendency to fight.


Back to alpacas. If you are seriously considering getting into alpacas then  you need to make peace with the fact that if you have more than one male, they will probably get into a physical altercation at some point.  Know this now and have a plan for how to address fighting when it occurs.  If you have two easy-going boys, they may never get into an argument.  I suppose it could happen.


Fish gonna swim.  Critters gonna fight.  Most often fighting occurs between the male of the species, but not always.  In my experience, female alpacas do fight although their fighting style differs greatly.


Unlike human girl fights, alpaca females tend not to fight for blood.  Most often, fighting is relegated towards the protection of resources.  In my herd, the girls are competitive for the prime spot at the sprinkler on a hot day, special treats placed in the feed bins, the shadiest spot in the shelter, or (in the case of pregnant females) the very air that they breathe.  


Alpaca girls usually resort to screaming  and spitting to voice their displeasure.  I have never seen my girls resort to physical brawling.  They tend to just hover over whatever they claim as theirs and scream loudly and longly until the other yields.  It’s noisy, but harmless.


Not so the boys.


Tell me if growing up you’ve ever heard the words “You’re playing now, but someone’s gonna get hurt.”


Many times boy fights start as innocent play wrestling and then escalates from there.


Male alpacas have a hierarchy that must be settled routinely and on numerous occasions.  


If there is a female on the property who is not currently pregnant, the hierarchy must be re-established.


If one of the girls glances too long in the boys’ direction, the hierarchy is scratched and must be re-established.  


If one of the boys steals another’s special blade of grass, the hierarchy must be re-established.


If it’s a sunny, rainy, windy, still, cold, or warm day, the hierarchy must be re-established.


So as you would guess (boys being boys) much of the fighting stems around the quest to win reproductive rights but fighting can also take place because your face is annoying and I’m tired of you and also a fly bit me.


The last thing that I want to do is to talk any prospective owner out of getting into alpacas simply on the basis of fighting.  As livestock goes, alpaca fights are mild and rarely serious to the point of major injury so long as their wolf teeth are kept trimmed.

Click here to see a video example of a mild fight between Elwood and Baby Burton.  Notice how it started off as an attempt by Baby Burton to play and escalated quickly from there.  This fight was over almost as soon as it began.  Thankfully, this is a typical “fight” and as such does not cause much concern nor does it warrant interference.  


I may delve further into this topic at a later point, but for now I want to focus on teaching you how to tell if your alpacas have been fighting.  You may have a herd composed of low-key individuals who never fight a day in their life.  Most of the time, this is exactly the case.


However, you may be like many of us alpaca owners who also have to hold down day jobs.  How can you tell if you have a peaceful herd or if your guys have been rumbling like the Sharks and the Jets behind Officer Krupcke’s back?


Thankfully, I have 3 easy ways (and one difficult way) to tell if your alpaca is a Greaser or a Soc.




I will admit to you that for this method to be effective, you need the proper terrain.  A dry lot works best.  You will need a bare patch of earth or other substrate which will provide a means to view disturbances in the covering.


Alpacas are classified as light livestock weighing between 120-200 pounds.  Their feet are padded and they tread very lightly.  Usually, these treads are visible and create only light disturbances in loose dirt.  Such tracks are shallow and clear defined with little outlining.


As they peacefully walk along, each footfall is lifted up and placed directly onto the soil.


However, when two (or more) alpacas are involved in a fight, everything changes.  They have a lower center of gravity not unlike two sumo wrestlers trying to push each other out of the ring.  


You may see a variety of track patterns, but here are some of the most common.


Ex A: Deep tracks with a large outline.


Shallow tracks are normal tracks.  They’re peaceful tracks.

alpaca footprint

No drama here. This is a regular track.


Deep tracks are war tracks.  Deep tracks indicate the lowered center of gravity combined with shifting and twisting as the alpaca tries to deepen his grip for traction.  The shifting creates depth and piles dirt around the outline as you can see here.  If you see a large grouping of deep tracks in a concentrated area, you probably have fighting alpacas.

alpaca track

Deep track with evidence of shifting. Notice the twist and the depth of the track.


Ex B: Tracks with runners


When you see a track with running lines leading up to it or behind it, you can be assured that your alpacas have been fighting. These types of tracks also correspond with the sumo-esque wrestling that typifies an alpaca fight.  One alpaca pushes another and either drags his feet as he pushes or drags his feet as he is being pushed.

alpaca track

A.) Track with runner

alpaca track

B.) Track with runner









Learn to read the language of alpaca tracks. Tracks will spill the secrets of sneaky alpacas.


(You could probably taste them like they used to do in old western movies, but it’s probably not necessary.)




Alpacas are not a bitey species by nature.  You really don’t have to worry about being bitten when working with an alpaca.  Granted, I never say never, but it just doesn’t seem to occur to them to use teeth as a weapon against humans.  


When boys fight amongst themselves, they bite.  Alpacas don’t have upper teeth, just a hard upper palate with dull lower teeth used to pinch off blades of grass.  


However, the boys do grow very sharp canines (called wolf teeth) further back in their mouth that they use almost exclusively to eliminate rivals.  


And when they bite, they play for keeps.  Each alpaca will attempt to cripple the other by severing a tendon in his leg.  More seriously, they will attempt to eliminate their rival’s genetic impact within the herd by castrating him.  Y’ouch!


I told you it’s serious business.  


I digress–back to hair.  Like reading the tracks, reading the hair can reveal a wealth of information.


If you find hair floating in the water bucket, you can be assured that your boys have been fighting.  Since they are trying to cripple and/or castrate, they are also ripping out fiber in the process.  This fiber is going to stick in and around their mouth until they rinse or rub it off.

Alpaca fleece in water bucket

Waiter, there’s a hair in my bucket.

Since fighting takes a lot of energy, an alpaca will want to refresh himself with a cool drink of water.  The fiber rinses off his face.  You are left with the evidence.


I have even narrowed down the offending parties by matching the fiber colors back to the original owners.  


Eat your heart out C.S.I.




One thing that you must learn about alpaca boys (or 12 year old human boys) is that poop is a central part of their very identity.  Poop is important stuff.


Poop is worth defending.  Poop is worthing fighting for.  Poop is worth fighting over.  


Most days, the boys are very good about sharing their communal poop pile.


Just because they share well most days does not mean that once in a while, one alpaca will want to initiate an exclusivity contract.  


As you know, poop is a territory marker for many species.  If the females venture close enough to the males and there happen to be open (not pregnant) females around, this can trigger a cascade of testosterone in the boys’ herd and upset the hierarchy.  


When this happens, the boys can get just a bit tetchy when it comes to poop and the ownership thereof.


When fighting breaks out over and around the poop pile, it will get buried in dirt during the scuffle.  Remember that the poop pile is treasured ground in the alpaca world.  As a habit, they tend to not mess with their piles.  


Dirty alpaca poop

When poop gets in the way

So when you see a buried poop pile, you can be assured that the boys had a momentary loss of judgement and forgot where they were when someone declared IT’S ON!




I have gone back and forth whether or not to even mention this method.  It’s not only difficult to master, but it’s unreliable as well.


I recommend using it in conjunction with the previously mentioned methods and not as a stand alone.


Now once you get alpacas of your own and once you learn each individual’s personality, you may start to master this method.


Keep in mind to give yourself plenty of patience and time.  There will be frustration, but I know that you can do this.  If you start your herd with one of my animals, know that this is not a one-time only transaction.  I am available to you as a mentor so that you can advance in the learning curve.


Just because this process isn’t easy does not mean that it’s not worth doing.


Alright.  Here we go.


On rare occasions, you can pick up very minute differences in expressions that will tell you if your alpaca has been fighting.


Again, this method is not reliable and it is not easy to pick up the very subtle clues that alpacas will send to each other.  As humans, we simply do not operate on this wavelength.


Here are two  examples.  I know that Elwood and Esteban were fighting because I witnessed them in action.  That is how I can show these pictures to you in full confidence.  Use these as a template for your own animals.


Example 1: Elwood

Look carefully toward’s Elwood’s right ear. It is angled ever so slightly turned away from me in this picture.  Notice also his slightly softened eye on the same side.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t see these differences right away.  It took me a long time.  Keep practicing and I promise you that these things will start to pop out at you.


Alpaca post spit

Who me?


Example 2: Esteban

I’m saving the hardest for last since Esteban’s example is very difficult to interpret.

Post spit alpaca

It wasn’t me









You will see with Esteban’s very handsome face that he is even more subtle with his facial expressions.  Notice his drooped ear and ever-so-slight angling of his head and a near 45 degree angle.  These are classic signs of an alpaca after a fight.


You can see from the subtlety of these pictures that it is not at all easy to identify fighting alpacas solely based on their facial features.  Alpacas certainly don’t give us much to go on when looking only at their faces to see what they might be thinking.


I would be tempted to say that it’s practically impossible.  But since I never say never, then I will instead wish you the best of luck if you think that you can pull it off.


Now that you have learned a few surefire (and one unreliable) way to tell if you have fighting alpacas, you may be wondering what to do with this information.


In a future post, I will outline what you can do when your alpacas fight as well as my surefire method to get them to stop practically immediately.


Thankfully, serious fights are rare.  As a word of precaution, I will warn anyone who works around alpacas to not attempt to physically break up an alpaca fight.  As with fighting dogs, getting into the middle of two fighting alpacas is a horrible idea.  


Alpacas are remarkable and gentle animals.  However, 150 pounds of normally gentle animal is not going to pay attention to your safety when he has more important concerns on his mind and you just happen to be in his way.


Wait, what?  What do you mean you can tell they’ve been fighting because their mouths are hanging down and dripping with green goo?  That’s just crazy talk.


Have you found this guide helpful?  Do you have a fight story to share?  I’d love to hear it in the comments below.


Blame it on the Rain

Blame it on the Rain

In this case, it, can be just about anything.

The lack of hay in our hay shed.

The increased tempers of the boys that have spent too many days in close quarters.

Hulk-sized mosquitos with Hulk-sized appetites.

The fact that it has been too long since I’ve updated the blog.

It’s all the rain’s fault.

As you most likely know (I’m just assuming here that you either a.) already know me or b.) are related to me) we have been getting a boatload of rain.  Lots-o-rain, to be specific.

It’s quite ridiculous, actually.

You’re probably thinking that a lot of rain is a good thing.  I used to think so too.  However, too much of any good thing usually ends badly.

Except for chocolate.  One can never have too much chocolate.

The moral of the story, kids, is that the rain has delayed just about everything.  Slogging through inches of water only served to double the time needed for daily chores.

Things are slowly getting back to normal.  The rivers and creek are back down to reasonable levels and the basement is slowly drying out.  The garden is still squishy and the weeds have really benefitted from this time.  Yay!

I do have two happy updates.  Okay, so maybe three.

UPDATE #1: Elwood continues to improve.

In our last episode, you will remember that Elwood had developed an icky-gooey abscess on his ear.  He has shown tremendous improvement as you can see from this picture taken two weeks ago.

Healing Ear Abscess

Elwood has an ear for improvement.









UPDATE #2: Heidelberr Farms lives up to its name.

I may have had to pull on the hip waders a time or two, but the blueberries have to be picked.  I’m just thrilled that the blueberry plants are being so productive.  This has been the best year ever.  I don’t know if it is because of or in spite of the rain.

Ultimately, I don’t care why they’re producing so well so long as it continues.  My pancakes depend on this.  And so do I.


Blueberries. Sweet blueberries.









UPDATE #3: More chickies!

Because Rosie and I are gluttons for punishment, we have hatched another batch of chicks in the incubator.  We have four hatchlings to date and another prospective four that went back in the oven to finish cooking.  In another week, if all continues to go well, we hope to have our first hatched Cayuga ducklings.  But since it’s not wise to count your chickens…or your ducklings…before they hatch, we’re just thankful for this batch of four so far.

The downside of incubator hatching is that we either have to raise these chicklings and ducklings inside for the next 4-5 weeks (bye bye, downstairs shower) OR we have to graft them onto another broody hen.

As you might imagine, since my first encounter with the Hens-of-Death, I’m not terribly excited about this prospect.  Even so, it has been a beautiful (albeit terrifying) experience watching the HOD’s fiercely nurture their little brood.

Hatched chicks

Hey Chicky Baby

So there you have it.  Here’s to hoping for normal-ish weather.

Whatever that is.

Until the next time, my friends.  Stay safe, be blessed, and don’t count your chickens until they cross the road.


When Kinda-Bad Things Happen to Kinda-Bad Alpacas

When Kinda-Bad Things Happen to Kinda-Bad Alpacas

It is a fact of life that, given enough time, things are going to happen.

I would like to say that this is especially true on a farm, but I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. A farm is no more susceptible to bad things happening than any other place, whether the workplace or the homeplace.

(A homeplace is a thing, right?)

Anyway, back to bad things happening.

I have come to accept that there will eventually be sickness, injury, loss, and death on the farm. After all, there is sickness, injury, loss, and death everywhere else. This is one of the consequences of living in a fallen world, this lovely blue marble of planet earth.

Do you follow me so far? Good things happen. Bad things happen. ‘Tis all currency in the game of life.

Now just because I know that injury will happen. And just because I am semi-okay and/or resigned to the fact that there is no escaping it forever, well, that doesn’t mean that I like it.

Especially if it’s Elwood.

A common theme running though my head at random times when, in my mind’s eye, I see the potential for damage is please don’t let it happen to Elwood.

And then it happened to Elwood. He recently developed an abscess on his ear.


Elwood has an ouchie.

He could have been bitten by some various insect. This year has been horrible for biting flies and other various bloodsuckers (political and non). Then again, Elwood’s temperament often lends him towards mischief with the other boys. He can be one to push and push and push until one of them finally has enough and has to finally get all up in his business to make him stop.

(Exhibit A: Where Elwood attracts grossness because he simply doesn’t recognize when to let it go)

alpaca spit

Exhibit A: Elwood-the-Pest gets his comeuppance


See, Elwood is like the pesky little brother that no ever wanted. Elwood is Bobby Brady crashing Greg’s date at the drive-in theater and leaving wreckage in his wake.

Which brings me back to the original point of UGH.


Why did it have to happen to Elwood? Don’t get me wrong; He’s not a bad alpaca. He’s just…difficult.

Believe me; as a former difficult child, I know difficult.

I will watch him closely for the next week or so, just to make sure things don’t get worse. I have confidence in Elwood’s ability to get better mostly on his own with just a bit of extra support. Thankfully, alpacas have pretty effective immune systems, but they can also be unique and a little bit tricky. Because most all drugs are used off-label, there is always a bit of an unknown element involved when using them.

Which is a big reason why I do not use them except as a last resort. I do all I can to avoid having to use antibiotics on the farm. They’re great and they definitely have their place. That is why I will reserve them for only the most stubborn issues so that various buggers don’t become resistant. Use them too much today and they won’t work tomorrow.

That would truly stink.

The current plan is to irrigate the wound, spray it with colloidal silver as a natural antibiotic, keep fly ointment around the area, add homeopathic remedies specific to abscesses to his daily water and manage to do all of this without him climbing over us to get to the rafters.

Easy peasy.

If it weren’t Elwood.

In other news, I’m very thankful that we did not incur much in the way of storm damage after last night’s storms. I’m also thankful that we did not take on any additional water in the basement. This alone is a minor miracle considering that my sister has been working overtime vacuuming up the water as soon as it pours in for the past few weeks.   Did I mention that I really love her?

In other, other, news…more severe storms predicted tomorrow.