Thursday, January 31, 2013

Camelids Anyone?

Three weeks ago we got a call from Seth, a farmer friend who asked if we'd like to own a couple Alpacas. Brad and I talked about it for a bit...more like 45 seconds and then said, "Sure, what do you want for them?" The farmer then said, "You can have them for free, I'll even deliver them to you."

Now we were a bit stunned. Brad and I looked at each other like we each had a third eye...they are FREE? Seriously?  He will deliver? WOOOOOW. What brought this blessing to us?

Actually this all started Spring of 2012 with Kiko goats. This same farmer raises them and I bought two young Kiko billies from him. He had both Alpacas and Llamas and I commented how cool these animals were.

While I was there, I noticed Seth had a really nice Kiko doe with a dairy sized udder to die for. I let him know that if she ever had any doe kids, I wanted all of them. He laughed and told me he'd call me when she was ready to kid. Fast forward to the beginning of the story...

Seth called and told me that he thought the Kiko doe I liked was about to kid most any day. Did I still want the doe kids? Yep, I still wanted them. He told me he'd call when they were born and I could pick them up when he weaned them a couple months later.

We chatted a bit more and then he said he needed to  reduce his herd of Alpacas. I learned the market had bottomed out and he had 3 neutered males he wanted to find homes for. Did I know anyone who might be interested? Golly gee.....who might I know that would want an Alpaca? I put my hand over the phone and  relayed to Brad what Seth had told me. He said yes, provided we had more info. I got back on the phone and asked Seth about their care, deworming and hoof trimming. He told me he'd come help us with whatever we needed.

So, we are now the newbie owners of 3 Alpaca's we have renamed Barney, Casper and Urkle. These 3 guys are revealing some really funny personalities...stay tuned!

Missing In Action Jackson

Lately we've had a lot of coyote activity in the river bottom area of our homestead. This wouldn't bother me too much, except our goat herd is now on new pasture close to the river bottom. I can't see much of their pasture from our back door.

Most of our neighbors had lost chickens and lambs from these night raiders.  I was getting concerned our flock would be visited soon. Several months earlier, I had looked into adopting a LGD (Livestock Guardian Dog) but, due to time and funding, put that idea on the back burner. Now, with all the new coyote activity at our back door, I needed to follow up on finding the perfect dog for the job.

My search started on I found a lot of Great Pyrenees dogs but they didn't seem to suit our needs. One dog on the site was a possibililty. He was huge, had livestock experience but, the ad said he liked to climb fences. I would need at least a 6 foot fence to keep him in. Since our fences are only 4 feet tall, he wouldn't work for us. I figured, there had to be more dogs like him, so I kept surfing the net, hoping to find the right dog.

My net surfing took me to one of my favorite websites to buy and sell...Craigslist. I checked out the Livestock for Sale and found lots of goodies I'd love to have...way out of my budget. No ads for a Livestock Guardian. Oh well. I checked out the Pets for Sale, as they usually have some cute pet pics. I like browsing this section as I am amazed at some of the animals people keep for pets.

As I clicked down the long list  of Pets for Sale, I saw " Great Pyrenees Needs a New Home" with a cute thumbnail pic of a huge white dog. My curiosity got the best of my clicker finger and I opened the ad. Seems that this huge, older male dog was now out of a job. The farmer had sold off his sheep and "Jackson" was out of work. He was now "climbing fences" and leaving the farm to go visit the folks at the local Food Mart/Gas Station. The owners were now keeping him tied as they were worried he'd get hit crossing the 4 lane highway.

The ad really appealed to me, but his pics is what got my attention. This dog looked like the same one on the Petfinder site! Was this the same dog? Could he work for us? We had goats for him to watch over...maybe, he would like living with us!

My clicker finger hit the REPLY link and I sent a short inquiry about Jackson. That evening, I got a reply with a phone number. The lady I spoke with asked a lot of questions and let me know that she would be happy to give us the dog. Yes that right, I said "give" as she wanted him to be happy on another farm.

Now, if you don't know already, Great Pyrenees dogs are not cheap. Pups can cost a couple hundred and trained LGD's go for 500.00 and up. Having someone GIVE me one was nothing short of an amazing blessing!

On the last day of December 2012, I drove the 40 minutes to the farm where Jackson lived. They were in the process of leading him out of the field and out to the driveway. This enormous dog was literally dragging the owner (a petite woman) across the yard to meet me!  He was friendly too! Not aloof as I was told they could be with people they didn't know. I knew right then he was going home with me.

Jackson won't be found missing in action any more .He has a new home and a new job as Head Herd Guardian for North Fork Homestead.