Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Llama Biography #5: Alder Crest April Showers

Finally I get to brag about my girl, April!  April is one of my all-time favorite llamas, somewhat because she is so beautiful but mostly because of the journey we have made together.

April as a cria, Spring 1994.

April as a yearling, Spring 1995.  She was born on a farm in Oregon, and was purchased by Casa Loma Llamas at an auction.

April as a 2-yr-old, 1996.

April's dam, CLR Ramona.  Hard to believe a light-wool llama could have such a wooly cria as April!

Can you see where April got her looks?  This is her sire, LW Regalo (a LW Kissam son!).  Very strong black and white bloodlines from this side of her family!

Casa Loma's Chantilly Lace, April's first cria.

April came to our farm in February/March 2000.  She was sort-of a rescue, coming from Casa Loma Llamas who was going out of business at the time.  Her owner was down to just a few llamas, including April (who was bred) and her daughter, Rhapsody (Casa Loma's Rhapsody in the Rain).  So we took both April and Rhapsody to our farm, and a few months later, April gave birth to May (Little May Flowers) (of course, April Showers brings May Flowers!).  May was the first cria to be born on our farm...we came home from school/work one day and there she was!  Luckily April was a great mom, and May grew up to be a beautiful girl.

Casa Loma's Rhapsody in the Rain, April's third cria.

Little May Flowers, April's first cria on our farm.

A few months after May was born, one of the two lumps on April's neck burst open, and she went to Ohio State University to get checked out by the vet.  (Back story: April's previous owner's vet used to give shots in the neck, and the owner suspects that a needle tip broke off and got stuck in April's neck, and then tissue built up around the object, forming the lumps.)  They ended up lancing the lumps and removing all the material, and sent her home with instructions to give her antibiotic shots and clean out the wounds.  Well April is a very powerful llama, and she quickly made mincemeat out of our cattle chute that we had been using to hold the llamas for medical procedures.  Luckily friends of ours made and sold steel llama chutes, so we made our most important investment to date and bought a new chute.  April can still move it a few inches if she lunges, but at least she can't hurt herself or us!  The lumps are now completely healed and you would never know that she had them!

Such a wooly girl!

Almost two years after May was born I took April to her first show, the Western Ohio Triple Crown.  She hadn't been shown in about 7 years, but we entered a competitive halter class (Heavy Wool Adult Female), and we got a first and a second (double show=2 placings)!  It was definitely one of my proudest moments showing!

April and I at the Western Ohio Triple Crown, Spring 2002.

In 2001 we took April to a neighboring farm to get bred to one of their gorgeous males.  True to her dominant personality, April ended up attacking the male one day, as the owners were checking to see if she was bred.  A year later (and also while no one was home!) April gave birth to a little boy, Autumn Hill's Tatoka.  This guy was running from the start, hence his name (Tatoka means "antelope" in Lakota Indian). Tatoka was sold to a friend as a fiber/pet llama, and it is remarkable how much he looks like his mom now that he is full grown!

Autumn Hill's Tatoka, Fall 2002.

Since April did so well at the show in spring of 2002, we decided to take her to the Great Lakes regional that fall.  Tatoka was just 2 weeks old when we took him and April up to the show.  Once again April was amazing to show, she won her halter class again (beating the female who went on to be the National Champion!), and came in 3rd in the top 5 of the wool division.

April and I at the 2002 Great Lakes Regionals.  Look at that presence!

We tried for awhile to get April bred again after Tatoka was born, but due to a few young (unproven) males who didn't really know what they were doing, she never ended up pregnant.  We bought an older, proven male in 2004, and bred April along with the rest of our females to him.  In the fall of 2005 April gave us another awesome boy, Autumn Hill's Inali.  (Inali means "black raven" in another Native American language.)  Inali was also a spitting image of his mom (at least in his build and wool coverage), and was a fun show boy for me one summer.  He was sold to a horse farm after he was weaned, and is now best friends with a horse and a peacock!

April after a much-needed body cut!

The fiber grows back really quick though!  (This was about 2 years after her full body cut.)

Autumn Hill's Inali, with April in the background.

Inali and his horse friend, Snuffy.

After Inali was born we again tried to breed April (this time to a really famous male at a neighboring farm), but apparently she was done being a mom.  She attacked several males, so we let her retire from breeding.  I had so much fun showing April in the past, I decided to start showing her again now that she wasn't having crias for us.  I showed her off and on during 2005-2010.  We even did a few performance classes in 2010 (without any training), and she did better than one of the crias I had actually trained to do obstacles!

April and I winning Younger Adult Showmanship at the Ohio State Fair.  She was a fabulous showmanship partner, once she realized the judge wasn't going to kill her and after I got her clean!

Indiana State Fair.  I think we were 3rd in a huge Adult Showmanship class that year too!

2010 Lama Fest.  I screwed up in showmanship at this show, so we didn't do as well.

In 2010 and 2011, I took a big leap and started training April to cart drive.  At this point she was about 16 years old, but still in amazing shape.  She's extremely smart and very curious, so I thought she'd be a great driving partner.  During the summer of 2010 we worked on ground driving (driving without a cart, just walking behind the llama).  April picked it up really quick, I was truly impressed!  In April 2011 I had the opportunity to attend a cart driving workshop in Ohio, so April and Bluff came along.  April did great when driving a triple hitch with 2 other trained llamas, but freaked out when we tried to hitch herself to the cart by herself.  Considering she's now 18 years old, I decided to give up on cart training and just let her live out her life as our fabulous guard llama.  I really wish I could have gotten another cria out of April to continue her legacy in our herd, but even without it she will never be forgotten!  I will not be surprised if she lives to be more than 25 years old!

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