Saturday, March 15, 2014

Science

Being such a cold winter this year – it makes me really appreciate the few sunny warmer days we’ve had. I especially appreciate the days when I don’t have to chop ice. Not having a barn or fancy facilities with electricity and running water, I have to carry water out to the Boys twice a day – once before I go to work and once again when I get home. It’s not really that horrible of a job, but when you get used to chopping ice every day, things just seem *so* much easier on those days when I don’t have to… that being said, summer is much better when I can just run a hose over and top off the trough  laugh

Depending on the time of day and how cold it is out, I’ll bring out anywhere from four to nine jugs of warm water out. On the really cold days, I just dump everything out of the buckets and give them all warm water instead of just warming up the cold water that was already left in the bucket. I don’t think the Boys really care one way or the other, but it makes me feel better.

Loading the sled...

 

I had a bit of an experiment running this winter dealing with their water – I was trying to find a way to keep the water from freezing as fast. In one of the forums I frequent, someone had mentioned that they used tires lined with hay to help insulate the buckets for their animals. As it happened, I had two old tires handy, so I thought I’d give it a try. Olliver and Merllin got the insulated bucket, while the rest of the guys didn’t. I was really amazed at the difference in the amount of ice that accumulated in each of the buckets… granted, the uninsulated bucket was up off the ground, which I am sure helped freeze the water a bit quicker, but there was still a really big difference between the two. When the uninsulated bucket had ½ - ¾” of ice on top, the insulated bucket only had 1/8-1/4” – which is quite a difference. Also, the uninsulated bucket would freeze along the bottom and sides while the insulated bucket never froze anywhere except on the top – and we’ve had multiple week-long stretches of temperatures that were in the single digits… I am definitely going to dig up a couple more tires for the Big Boys’ water for next winter.

 

 Insulated  Not Insulated

 

I love the soft-sided buckets I use – especially for the uninsulated water. When the ice was getting thick along the sides and bottom, it was really easy to break the ice by tapping on the outside. Being rather rubbery, I didn’t have to worry about the bucket cracking in the cold along with the ice.

Who would guess that you could mix llamas and science?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Toes

It’s been a cold winter, but we’ve had it warm up for a day or two here and there.  I’m still surprised to see the Boys sleeping outside when it is so cold out.  Allbus and Olliver are both very good about having their coats being put on and taken off.

 

Look Mom - no halter!

 

I took advantage of the relatively decent weather we had this past weekend to get everyone’s toenails trimmed. It’s still a little scary because I haven’t done it enough yet where it’s old-hat. They are all great when doing the front legs – it’s the back legs where everyone gets touchy. Mostly l worry about Allbus kicking, which he did - but it was kind of half-hearted, so it wasn’t too scary. Olliver and Merllin were pretty good – Olliver danced around more than Merllin, but I was able to get the job done with them within a reasonable amount of time with minimal drama.

Dalai is funny when it comes to his back feet – when I start touching them, he crosses his legs… kind of like how a little kid does when they have to use the bathroom  laugh  But even with crossed legs, I was able to get him done pretty quick.

Indiana was being a brat when I was trying to do his back feet. He’s big and fat and he knows it…  And he knows how to throw his weight around if he wants to. I ended up putting him in my homemade chute. Once he couldn’t throw his weight around, everything went pretty smooth. I used the chute to touch up Merllin’s back feet too – I didn’t think to use the chute when I was trying to get him done.  I think that was the first time I had him in there – he didn’t seem to mind it at all.

I did end up slicing my thumb open – I thought I was being smart by leaving the clippers open in my pocket so that they would be easy to grab once I got a foot in position… unfortunately when I went to grab them, I sliced myself really good – I really didn’t think that they blades were *that* sharp! I saved myself some stitches by using some crazy glue to hold the cut pinched closed and to stop the bleeding – it worked like a charm smile I need to devise some kind of holster for the clippers so that I can keep them out of the way, but handy when I need to grab them quick…

I feel so much better knowing that they are all trimmed up. I don’t think the Boys appreciate me telling them that they all have pretty feet now rolleyes

 

Oh my - what pretty feet!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Brrrrr!

So it’s been a bit chilly here lately.  The weather-people were calling it The Polar Vortex.  I called it winter.  Albeit a wee bit on the nippy side, but it’s winter - it’s supposed to be cold.  However, when I wake up one morning and the first thing I hear on the radio is that the temperature outside is only one degree warmer than the South Pole, I wondered if I should be concerned…


The three ‘normal’ shaggy guys seemed fine – the cold weather didn’t seem to be affecting them much at all.   I did notice Allbus, one of the suri llamas, was shivering a bit, which started me worrying.  I suppose it made sense – he didn’t have the really thick wool that the other guys have, so the cold would affect him more.  Strangely tho’, Olliver didn’t seem to be bothered by the cold, but I kept an eye on him.


What I ended up doing was making coats for the two of them.  Allbus got one made of two polar fleece blankets I picked up at the Salvation Army sewn together for lots of warmy-goodness and Olliver’s coat was made out of an old comforter I had.  Allbus was the first priority and therefore the guinea pig of my initial llama-blanket-making experiment.  Thank you so much to Dragonfly Llama for the pattern to get me started – it was perfect for someone (me!) on a limited budget.

What I learned from my first try:

- I learned that I love Allbus more and more every day  heart  As usual, I was expecting the worse and tried to head off any possible fight/rebellion/resistance…  I let Allbus look at the coat.  He couldn’t care less about it.  I let Allbus smell the coat.  He couldn’t care less about it.  I kind of plopped it on his back so he could feel it on him.  He cared for about three seconds and then ignored it.  I figured at that point I would just go for it and put the thing on him.  He stood still for me the whole time I was figuring it out – I was very pleasantly surprised at how good he was  smile


- I learned that Velcro just doesn’t cut it with llamas.  I has sewn almost 2-foot strips on each strappy part, thinking that they would great for adjusting and being able to fit different size llamas if needed…  Not.  Even though I picked up the Heavy-Duty-Industrial-Strength Velco, it didn’t hold more than five minutes after Allbus started moving around.  I ended up temporarily using safety pins until I could find something better.  I finally decided on some cam-lock buckle thingies, which I found out are mankind’s greatest invention since the wheel.  They are so easy to thread and adjust – even with gloves on and they hold tight… I love these things!  I am so glad I picked up a bulk bag of them (cheap!) – I’m going to be using them for a lot of things in the future.


- I learned that Allbus must have a longer body than the llamas the pattern was made for.  I had to sew some extra onto the back of the coat so that his butt would be covered.  There’s nothing worse than having a draft on your butt.


The coat definitely helped and I honestly believe that he realized  after a short time that the coat was a really good thing to help keep him warm.


Olliver didn’t get his coat until a day later than Allbus.  Unfortunately, the weather had turned rather nasty and he didn’t get the luxury of having the option to decide if he would like the coat or not.  I pretty much just put it on him – I think I did it so fast, he didn’t even realize what happened  laughing


The weather had warmed up since then (it went up over 30 degrees in two days  rolleyes ) and the coats came off, which allowed to me make a couple minor adjustments so they would fit a bit better.
The temperatures dropped again the other day (this morning they said on the radio that we were colder than Fairbanks Alaska…) – I was glad that I was prepared this time and I think Allbus and Olliver were glad too.  They almost seemed happy to get their coats on  smile

Here are my GQ Boys sporting their toasty new look:

Allbus

Olliver

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

2013 Christmas Picture 11a

Merry Christmas from me and my Boys!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Poor Indiana

Indiana

Poor Indiana. Being the oldest of all my Guys, I used to try anything new out on him first. I figured that he had the most experience and he would be the one to help me learn. I learned that llamas learn by watching other llamas. I learned that Indiana doesn’t like being the guinea pig (It took me a bit of time to learn that).

Because I practiced my injection-giving skills on him, he is the only one of the Boys that gets upset when he sees me coming with the syringes. I feel really bad for him – it’s got to be kind of like when you have a bad experience at the dentist – you always anticipate the worst every time you go for a check up afterwards… This past month was the best he’s been in a while – there was a lot of foot stamping, but he did stand still  Happy

When exploring new places to hike, I would bring Indiana with me. A lot of times the hike ended up being a lot longer than either of us anticipated. I think because of that, he is not as excited to go on hikes as the other Guys are. I am working on purposely taking him on short hikes – I want to try having him go home wanting more… hopefully that will help him enjoy our walks more.

Indiana

When it came time for shearing in the spring, I thought he would have been the easiest of the bunch, but he turned out to be the hardest. He just would not stand still, even in the chute I made. It was horrible. I only got the bare-minimum done on him before I gave up.

As I progressed through the other Guys, I thought maybe I would see if I could go back finish up Indiana and do a little bit better job – especially as the weather was getting hotter (I didn’t do everyone at once – the whole getting-everyone-sheared was spread out over about a week-and-a-half). I think that by him watching me shear the other Guys, he figured out that it was nothing to worry about. I was prepared for battle, but he stood perfectly still as I finished up his haircut. It was actually quite enjoyable finishing him up!  And no – I am not posting pictures of The Boys after their haircuts…  it was my first attempt they looked pretty bad for a couple of weeks (I used scissors – I can’t afford electric shearers Batting Eyelashes ).

P7212706a

I tried putting a packing saddle on him and he did not like it at all. He let me do it, but he was not happy. Maybe I tried when it was too hot out… But I think I need to let him see me put it on someone else. I’m going to try putting the saddle on Dalai while Indian is watching and then see what happens.

It’s kinda of tough learning how to do the things I need to do without making mistakes.  I feel bad that Indiana has been the one to feel the brunt of those mistakes, but I think in a sense he’s been sort of training me  LOL

I think it will take a while before he realizes that I’m not going to practice on him anymore.  Well, at least not very often anyway.

Indiana