Homestead Life : The Death of An Alpaca Named Petunia.

The downside to adopting animals with no personal histories attached is you never really know anything about them before they came to your place… we always talk about how our home is the “last home” for all these animals, they never have to worry about being sent anywhere else, or being bred again, or even being taken off property for shows… they are here to just be taken care of, until the time of their demise.

This summer we adopted 6 more female alpacas… it was from a large herd that was downsizing, and our only request was they be non pregnant females.

When we got them home we noticed one in particular seemed very old and frail comparatively to the rest. We named her Petunia. She frolicked in the pasture with her herd mates excitedly, her coloring was good and she had a hearty appetite. We just let her be.

She never seemed cold or sick- her fiber wasn’t growing in the best, so I made plans to have her given the special geriatric shearing this spring. As the winter wore on, I became very attached to this little sweetheart that was sassy but sincerely liked people. She never shied away from me during herd health and always let me run my hands over her frame for body scoring with no difficulty- she almost enjoyed the petting I think. It started becoming a daily thing a couple weeks ago as I noticed she was losing weight and rapidly.

Her coloring was still good, her appetite still hearty… she knocked those younger ones out of the way for her morning grain. But last Sunday morning, although she still ran around for her grain, she had no interest in hay. We had a long day off the homestead tho, so reluctantly, I left her.

Once we got home, I prepared to run a fecal on her to send out priority the next day- I went out to feed them supper, and collect my sample but it was too late. She had passed sometime through out the day while we were gone. The other alpacas that came to our farm with her were gathered around her, but moved off and didn’t come back after I stepped in. I took that as they had already said their good byes.

I did my chores, said my own tearfully regret filled goodbye and went to inform MrGillis that we had a bit of a problem on our hands.

It was a hard loss- the first alpaca death. Especially happening in winter, with sub zero temps and 4 feet of snow on the ground. We had no choice but to offer her up as bait for hunters. It broke my heart, but realistically we had no other options, as we had already stored her in the hay barn for two days before finally deciding what to do.

So that was last week- I’ve gathered fecal samples from the rest of the herd to send out, Just in case it was a worm load. Otherwise, in my honest assessment, she was old, had been overbred and was stressed by a big move, even tho it was months before. Winter is harsh here and has the unnerving ability to weed out the weak. No matter how devastating to us caretakers.

Until next time.

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