We buried seven alpacas on Sunday…victims of a brutal dog attack…three babies and one adult dead when we found them…three so badly injured that they had to be put down. Three mothers are without their babies and two babies are without mothers today…it is a sad, sad day. Dog owners, be responsible for your dogs!

This was my post on Facebook Monday morning…83 people have commented so far…expressing their sympathy…thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to share your kind thoughts.  Some have had this happen on their own farms…my sympathy to you as I now know the heartache you feel.

Sam, Gus, Aurora, Miss Miami

Sam, Gus, Aurora, Miss Miami

I have become a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, that whatever we are going through and wherever we are, is just where and what we are supposed to be doing, that it is all a part of God’s plan.  I can’t begin to understand what the reason for this tragedy might be.  I will spare you the gruesome details but it suffices to say it was bloody and it was horrible.

I’ve tried to think of the good things…that no people were hurt, that we only lost seven…that I’ve been given the opportunity to love and have a passion for alpacas…that  I wouldn’t feel such deep loss if I hadn’t been given the privilege of caring for and loving them first.

A friend suggested I journal about the alpacas that died.  We had a history with these animals.  I don’t know that I can do this without shedding some tears…though I’m not that I have tears left…I knew and loved these animals.

LadyhooHHSF Yodel’s Peruvian Ladyhoo

She was one of the first five alpacas we purchased, one of our foundation herd.  She was eight months old when she came to our farm, had already been registered to show at the National Show in Louisville, Kentucky so our very first show was at the national level!

Ladyhoo at National Show

Ladyhoo was the nervous type…a bit high strung…and I am sure she sensed my nervousness that day as well.   Her behavior in the show ring that day was less than desirable.  To make matters worse, she was judged by the very well known judge Dr. Julio Sumar, who expected handlers to have their alpacas under control, so he could do his job and evaluate them.  I had no idea what I was doing but Ladyhoo took third place that day!  Fortunately it is the quality of the alpaca that is being judged…not their performance…or mine.

Ladyhoo and Aaron at National Show

This also was our son Aaron’s very first alpaca show.  Part of the obstacle course in his age group was to take the alpaca in and out of a mini-van, as well as in and out and over a number of other obstacles.  Alpacas are great with kids and the two of them did just fine!  Our children were five, eleven, and thirteen when we first got into the alpaca business.  All three showed alpacas and it was a great deal of fun. We had something to be involved in as a family that was rewarding for each of us in diffferent ways.

Ladyhoo Takes The Blue

Ladyhoo went on to take several blue ribbons and when she reached breeding age, we retired her from the show ring to remain home on our farm and begin her breeding career.  I’m sure she was relieved.  She was mother to Missmarti and McGee, named after Marty McGee Bennett because they were each born right in the middle of a Camelidynamics seminar presented by Marty, two years in a row.  The seminar came to a halt and all those attending witnessed the births of these babies.  Some were so moved that they shed tears, of joy.

Ladyhoo Giving Birth

We have always kept a llama in our herd that serve as guards.  Little Miss Texas stayed with Ladyhoo until she saw that everything was okay, then went on about her business.

While probably true of any birth, it is something very special to see the birth of an alpaca, and I have been fortunate to see many of the babies that have been born on our farm.  It is nothing short of a miracle.

I am always amazed how it all happens just the way it is supposed to, like it was part of God’s plan!  We fuss way more than we need to and I have learned  that usually the best thing we can do is watch from a distance and stay out of the way!  There have been times however…that a mama does need some help…and I am also amazed that they seem to know when they are in trouble and allow us to help them.

We dry off the baby, dip the umbilical cord in iodine, then it is up to mom and baby.

On a cold day, we take mom and baby inside to our birthing room, to get warm and have some bonding time.

It normally isn’t long before the cria struggles to her feet because she knows she must find something to eat in order to survive.  Usually within an hour, she is on her feet nursing, and soon after that running around the pasture!

Ladyhoo was an excellent mother, very attentive and protective of her little ones.  Like people alpacas all have their own disposition and Ladyhoo was more high strung than some, a trait that she passed on.  We would match her with a mellow male for this reason.  She did not like dogs at all, even our little shitzus that from time to time would come into the pasture with one of us.  She was the only alpaca we’ve owned that would actually chase a dog and attempt to stomp on it.  Needless to say, Lizzie and Louie, did not venture into the pastures on their own.

Ladyhoo and Missmarti

Ladyhoo was born April 6, 2002 to HHSF Peruvian Cappucci and Peruvian Yodel.  She was mother to all girls… Missmarti, McGee, Meadow Jule, Lorelei, Serenity, and Aurora who is just six months old and left without a mother.  There is no doubt in my mind that Ladyhoo fought those dogs to protect her baby.  Having to be euthanized because of the severity of her injuries, she stood and let her baby nurse before she died.  What a wonderful mother she was.

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Kesare

We bought Kesare from Alpacas of America at our first alpaca auction in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kesare

She was a beautiful multi-colored female with pretty brown markings on her face and streaks of brown throughout her silky white fiber.

Kesare

She was loaded with personality, very friendly, almost to the point of being a nuisance at times.

At feeding time, if I was being nudged from behind, I could be sure it was Kesare.

Kesare on Dirt Hill

She loved my son Adam.  He could call her name in a certain way and she would run to top of the nearest dirt hill and prance from side-to-side, showing off for him!

She was a knuckle-head…and we all enjoyed her antics!  She took lots of ribbons in the show ring including Grand Champion.

Kesare and Keleah in Birthing Room

We paid more for Kesare than any alpaca on our farm, and then bought a multi-colored herdsire specifically to breed to her.  Unfortunately, it turned out that Kesare was not meant to have babies.  She had three pregnancies and only one  baby that lived.  Her first baby was not breathing when she was born.  This was my first experience with mouth to snout resuscitation…which I performed most of the way to Ohio State University that day with little Keleah lying motionless on my lap…not knowing for sure whether she was still alive or not.   Kesare had delivered lying down and not only was she unable to stand, she had gone into shock.  We had to roll her onto a blanket to be lifted into the trailer.  We didn’t know if either mom or baby would be alive when we reached our destination.  Our vet called ahead to let the team on call at OSU know we were coming and they were ready for us when we arrived.  Kesare’s temperature did not even register, nor did Keleah’s.  It was touch and go for both mom and baby, and they spent a week at  OSU receiving care round-the-clock.  Kesare bounced back fairly quickly but it was a long time before Keleah responded to much of anything.  Finally she turned the corner, thanks to the vigilant staff that attended to her.  She still wasn’t strong enough to stand and nurse, but finally found the strength to take a bottle.  Little by little she gained strength.   We prepared ourselves to have to bottlefeed her when she came home…every two hours round the clock.  When they finally came home they didn’t even know they belonged together.

We closed the two of them in our birthing room and insist they get to know each other.  As I sat in the birthing room with them preparing to give a bottle during one of those middle of the night feedings, it just clicked for the two of them.  Kesare stood, Keleah found her udder, latched on and nursed…thank you sweet Jesus!

Kesare and Keleah

Both got stronger and soon we let them into the pasture with the others.   Each was very independent, often at opposite ends of the pasture or hanging out with friends.

Kesare and Keleah

What we discovered after another difficult labor and baby number two dying, is that when Kesare went into labor, she also went into shock.  We almost lost Kesare again.  I remember sitting in the pen with her head on my lap trying to get her to eat or drink something.  After some testing we found that her calcium level was so extremely low that she was not able to have contractions in order to push her babies out.

After extensive conversation with our vet, we decided to try one more time, and planned to supplement with oral calcium months prior to her due date in order to get her level up in preparation for labor.  This time she went into labor prematurely.  Her baby was already dead when our vet pulled her out.  So very sad.  Once again, Kesare was in a bad way.  In time we were able to nurse her back to good health.  We tested both Kesare and baby, Lepto was suspected which is something transmitted in the urine of white tail deer and carried into pastures on the feet of small animals that have tracked through it.  We began a Lepto vaccination program for our entire herd because of the white tail deer population in our area.

Kesare was born July 20, 2002 to Black Vigor of Bolivia and Carlota.

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AMDWS Crassy was born on our farm, out of our very best female and our very best male at the time.  You might imagine that her quality was also very high.  Just 3 1/2 years old,  she had had two babies, a male named Against All Odds and a female named Miss Miami because she was born when we visiting our son at Miami University.  She is  just six months old and now without a mother.

On the day of the attack, I noticed that Miss Miami was laying beside Crassy’s mother, her grandmother Shining Star.  It touched my heart that they would have this connection and in their sadness be there for each other.

Crassy’s name is a combination of Cass, my daughter’s middle name, and Christopher, our son’s first name.  She was named after them because they assisted with the delivery when I wasn’t home.  I have been amazed more than once by my kids, by all they have learned simply by the life experiences going on around them on our farm and in our business.  At one point my daughter could not only name every alpaca on our farm, but she could name the dam and sire and offer an opinion on who she thought should be bred to who.  My kids knew what to do when Crassy was born!

Crassy was born October 20, 2007 at Alpaca Meadows to Accoyo America Matterhorn and Pival Blazen Shining Star.

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AMDWS Unlimited Joy was just two and half years old, had not yet had a baby, but was ready to breed this Spring.  She was born September 27, 2008 on National Alpaca Farm Day to Unlimited and Champa Chapaco and is pictured above when she was little.  We had a “name the baby” contest and her name was chosen.

Joy was a pretty girl with lots of wonderfully, soft fiber, and a very sweet disposition.  She had a pretty face with dark eyes and eyelashes, and gray markings.  We had sold Joy to some local folks, just getting going in the alpaca business, and they were boarding her at our farm.  She was their only alpaca.

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Ellie

Born May 18, 2010 AMDWS Ellie was not quite a year old.  She is the daughter of AMDWS Esmerelda and SGAR’s Peruvian Zumaya.  Ellie also had a sweet disposition and lovely, silky fiber.  She had the potential to make lots of nice babies.

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AMDWS Zumaya's Gus

AMDWS Zumaya’s Gus was born September 26, 2010 to SGAR’s Peruvian Zumaya and Angel’s Sharae.  He was seven months old, time to start halter-training, and getting ready for the show ring.  He was definitely show quality, one of the nicest ever born on our farm.

AMDWS Zumaya's Gus

He was born on Sunday of National Alpaca Farm Days.  A crowd of people visiting that day watched his mother labor and deliver him.  It was quite an event for everyone there!   A photographer from the Mansfield News Journal showed up the next day.  Though he missed our event, he took lots of alpaca pictures, and Gus ended up on the front page!  He had a sweet disposition like his mother and sister Savannah.  We were excited about his beautiful color and had hoped to use him for breeding when he was old enough…I was just getting to know him.

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A baby was killed that was just 3 1/2 weeks old.  She had just arrived from another farm the day before with her mother Isis, pictured above.  She did not even have a name.

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There are images from that day that I cannot get out of my head.  One of them is the three mothers, Esmerelda, Sharae, and Isis whose babies were killed.  They sat side by side in front of the barn.  I know they were grieving…alpacas do that.

We have been raising alpacas for eight years…some of them have died…I understand that is part of raising livestock…and life.  Fortunately the joy has outweighed the sorrow.  Our alpacas have given me much joy, they have slowed me down, they have given me a piece of serenity.  And I have learned so much.  I am so very grateful for the opportunity to care for them.  I don’t at all understand why this tragedy had to happen.  Perhaps it is not for me to understand.  Perhaps all I can do is accept it…and move on…knowing that the adversity we experience in life makes us who we are.

“To have loved and lost is better than to have never loved at all”.



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