Saturday, March 31, 2012

Puppy Post!

Since I'm currently away from the farm in grad school, its often hard to come up with llama-related topics to write about!  (That will change this summer though, can't wait!)  So I decided tonight to write about the topic that is near and dear to my heart, and the one I currently think about the most on a daily adorable puppy, Abby!

The weekend I brought Abby home...she was so tiny!

As I mentioned before, I got Abby back in October as a 9-wk old pup.  She is a full-blooded Golden Retriever, and a gorgeous girl if I do say so myself!  The first several weeks with Abby were filled with the typical puppy problems...housetraining and crate training.  Luckily Abby has never been much of a chewer, so destroying the house wasn't an issue.  She actually took to her crate pretty well too, but housetraining was a whole other matter!  Abby drinks more water than any dog I've ever seen, so she constantly needed to go outside.  She learned to ring a bell on the door when she wanted to go out though, which did help.  Now, at 7 months of age, she's a lot more reliable in the house, only having accidents if she gets over excited (as in when she meets someone new or plays really hard).  And she can sleep for 12 hours in her crate at night, which is awesome!

Abby and Hank (my roommate's German Shorthair Pointer).  February 2012.

Pretty soon after I brought Abby home we started in a "puppy kindergarten" obedience class.  Abby was the youngest in the class, but did very well.  We worked on the basics: sit, stay, lie down, come, and walking on lead.  Abby even passed her AKC Star Puppy test with flying colors!  The "advanced puppy" class this winter was a bit more challenging though.  We worked on more extensive stays (especially with distractions) and heeling, as well as brushing up on the basics.  At the end of this class we took the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, but no one ended up passing.  It was a lot harder than the puppy test!  I'm planning on continuing to work with Abby over the spring and summer though, and try to pass the test again in the fall.

Abby and Hank "playing".

Now that Abby (and I) have gone through some pretty extensive obedience work (and know what we need to work on and how to accomplish the goals I have for her), I decided it was time for something more fun!  I wanted to do an intro to agility class with her, but it didn't work out so we signed up for flyball instead!  Flyball basically involves the dog running over a set of low jumps, retrieving a tennis ball from a box-like contraption, and then running back to the handler.  There are competitions where it is like a doggy relay: a team of dogs runs back and forth over the course as fast as they can.  Check out YouTube for videos if you haven't seen flyball before, it is amazing!  We have only been to 2 classes so far, but it seems like Abby is quite a natural.  She has no problems with the jumps, and isn't afraid of the box at all.  Now she just has to learn to grab the tennis ball and bring it back, she tends to get distracted!  Hopefully I'll be able to work on that at home, once she heals up a bit more.

Which brings me to my next topic...miss Abby got spayed last Wednesday.  After losing 2 dogs to reproductive cancers (including a Golden Retriever), I knew I wanted to have her spayed before she came into heat the first time.  The vets at the MSU Vet Hospital where I take Abby said she could be spayed anytime after her last round of shots at 4 months of age, but I decided to wait for her to grow a bit more, and she was spayed a few weeks after her 7 month birthday.  She's currently 3 days post-surgery, and has completely bounced back to her normal self.  That's a good and a bad thing...I'm glad to know she is on the mend, but its hard to keep an energetic 7 month old puppy quiet for 10 days!  She's being confined to my room when I'm home, and in her crate when I'm at school.  She has clearance to start going on walks again after 7 days, and can play as normal after 10.  And we get to go back to flyball after 14 days!

February 2012.  She's getting big!

This summer we're going to take an agility class back home in Indianapolis.  We're skipping the intro class and starting in the beginner class, so Abby and I will have some pre-class "homework" to work on before we start!  It should be a lot of fun though.

How could you resist that face?  She definitely has the "guilty" eye thing going already!  Christmas 2011.

Maybe I'll start doing "Abby Updates" every once in awhile.  So for March 2012:  Abby is 7.5 months old, weighs in at 48 lbs.  She's as tall as my parents' Australian Shepherds, but not quite as tall as my roommate's German Shorthair Pointer.  I think she's had 2 accidents in the house in the past month.  As far as obedience goes, she knows how to sit, lie down, and stay (with minimal distractions) very well.  We're still working on heeling, loose lead walking, and coming when called (though she has gotten a lot better about coming!).  My current flyball goal for her is to learn to grab the tennis ball off the box and bring it back.  My overall training goal is to get her to quit jumping on people when she meets someone new!

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!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

We have roving! Finally!

After a long wait, mostly due to me procrastinating on skirting fleeces all summer, I finally got my roving back from the mill!  It actually came in January, but I haven't gotten around to taking pictures til now.

The fleeces came back in 3 batches of roving: a reddish-brown huacaya alpaca, a tan/grey llama, and a black llama/suri alpaca blend.

The red-brown huacaya alpaca roving is from Ralph.  Ralph is my pathetic little alpaca with all sorts of problems (scoliosis, short tail, etc.), but he has a great personality and pretty nice fiber.  He doesn't produce as much as most alpacas seem to though, I normally only get 2-3lbs of prime fiber.  His roving is extremely crimpy and soft, with absolutely no vegetable matter!  Priced at $3.00/oz.

Ralph in full fleece. 
Ralph winning costume at the Indiana State Fair.

The tan/grey llama blend is from Sedona, Bluff, and Duque.  Sedona was a friend's llama who has beautiful silky tan fleece.  Bluff of course is our main (now only!) breeding female, who is due with another fine-fibered beauty in April!  Bluff is mostly white with some red spots.  And Duque is our old retired show gelding.  He was dark brown when he was born, but has faded to a gorgeous silver grey.  This blend is a very nice silky llama- not as much crimp as huacaya alpaca, but very fine and has a lot of luster.  It is also very clean.  Priced at $3.50/oz.

Duque going grey.

Duque on a hiking trip with my sister and her friend.

Beautiful Bluff.

Bluff and her first baby, Rainier.
The last batch of roving is a black silky llama/suri alpaca blend.  It is absolutely stunning!  It is extremely fine, completely clean, and so lustrous!  The fiber for this blend came from a suri alpaca from a friend's farm, plus our very own Annie and Ridge.  Annie is our only remaining cria, although she's leaving for a new home this month!  She definitely has the nicest fiber we've every produced- extremely fine and with gorgeous lock structure.  Ridge is actually Annie's dad, and she gets her fiber from him!  He has the finest fiber I've ever felt on a llama, even as an adult.  And he produces a ton of it!  He was our fabulous show boy and breeding male for a short while, but went to a new home when we decided to quit breeding.  He is the dad to Bluff's cria.  Priced at $5.00/oz.

Shows the luster but the color is much darker. 
This is a more accurate color representation.

Baby Annie.

Look at those locks!

Our big boy Ridge.

The curls!
All of this fiber is available on our Etsy store.  It is sure to spin like a dream!