Well it seems my goal to post once a week this year went right out the window, as has my aspirations of doing a podcast... It's still on the agenda, so sometime it will happen.
In the meantime we are already well into spring, even considering the weekly snow we are still getting, interspersed with 60 degree days. I know this because the wind is here with a vengeance, and because we are getting baby chicks today and our bees should FINALLY be here next week!
But the topic for the day is the death that took precedence on the ranch the first 3 months of 2010. Starting with Weston, one of our very promising little boys. We noticed on Jan 2 that he was laying down a lot and lethargic. He was also very thin. We loaded him up on parasite treatments, and propped up his system for a few days, and he appeared to be improving. But a week later or so started declining again. The vet determined that he had a heart murmur, and that there was no treatment. He basically was born with a weak heart and when he grew to a size that his heart could no longer support, he started to decline. He died in late January.
Followed next by stillborn twins from one of the boarding alpacas. Twins are very rare in alpacas, due to the ratio of baby size to Mom size. They just frankly can't carry them. To be fair there are a few sets of twins born in the US that get the care they need to survive, but most of the concieved twins either get one absorbed early on in the pregnancy of both aborted later in the pregnancy. This was a girl the boarders had no idea was pregnant, but the twins were out there one day, two girls, one dark brown one white.. I have photos, but perhaps I'll spare you. I also still have the fetus's in my freezer waiting for a trip to CSU. (Makes me think of Jackie's rabbit.. she knows). The boarders also had a male that was just dead when we got out to do chores. Don't know what happened to him. Think he got kicked. Their alpacas are older and have much more compromised health, due to their history and age.
We lost one of our great pyranees, Asher, when the two Anatolian Shepherds (from what we could tell), beat him up so bad we had to put him down. We think Simba was just exerting his dominance (he is an intact male... gotta take care of that!). Kipper, Simba's sister, I'm sure joined in on the fun. We were out of town (of course) and the neighbor taking care of the animals called to report that they had been fighting and Asher's "insides were outside". We called another neighbor to come evaluate who after a closer look said it was just fur and blood and matted mess, and that the wounds were bad but all topical. So we had him spray some wound spray on it and we would take care of it when we got home. Well, when we got home and got out there with a pail of soapy water, we found out that the hair/blood/mat was not connected to the muscle. Asher had been skinned, from his waist to his rear legs. He was oozing with infection, and hadn't eaten for three days. We had to put him down.
That same day, someone hit a deer in the neighborhood, and left it crippled trying to scoot away. It got caught up in the fence and Mike had to shoot it too. The same thing happened with another deer a couple weeks later! Odd, if nothing else. But I'm sure with some sort of Native American significance, Asher was able to be buried with a deer companion, to help guide him or some such poetic thing. I did think that was nice. Sara said "I hope you killed him Humanely!" Meaning a lethal injection at the vet, but there could have been no more humane way to go.. Looking up for help from his loving owner, he never saw death coming.
One of our two friendly Kittens seems to have disappeared. Not sure if death is involved but the other sister is still here and the two were inseparable! So that is sad also. And we had another little boy, Rocky, 6 months old, die. We were weaning him, and we are not sure what happened to him, except we noticed one day that he was REALLY thin. We put him back in with his mom, but I guess it was already too late, he had shut down. Perhaps we just didn't watch close enough, perhaps the stress of weaning got him, and/or he didn't eat enough. But he should have been old enough and fine. At any rate he died quickly and none of the other kids are showing any ill effects.
Another kind of death is the death of our boarding contract, that we had been living on for the past year since I was laid off. The boarders lost their income as well (laid off from Northrup Grumman) and quit paying in late December. We have been trying to work with them, but our situation is not such that we can keep them for free, so we have been looking for placement for their 48 alpacas. So far we have homes and are down to 12 of them. They will be all gone soon enough. Mike is quite enjoying the lightening of the workload, but we will miss the income, especially as there has not been anything else steady in our employment efforts.
And finally on a different scale, my Aunt Winnie died on February 14. I happened to be in Albuquerque, and weather happened to prevent me from going home, so I went to Indiana for the funeral, and was glad to have the opportunity to do that, support my parents, and see my cousins and their families. My Aunt was my father's only sister and was just short of 88. She had been having some health struggles the last year or two, but generally was alert and ambulatory until two days before her death (she was doing crossword puzzles on Tuesday). She had a long, adventure filled life, and is survived by her five kids and 13 grandkids (don't quote me on that) so no better way to go, but she will be missed by many. Aside from her husband who died more than 20 years ago, She is the first of my parents generation (siblings) to die. So I have had a lot of self introspection this month around that event!
So, that is A LOT of death, even for a ranch with livestock. I will remember this past season with that shadow. But now spring has sprung, we are planting the garden, getting chickens (today), bees next week, babies from the alpacas any day now (11 due before the end of June), and Mike's Daughter, Sara, welcomed his 5th grandson into the world last night. I am looking forward to leaving the Shadow of death behind!