Winter blahs and other ramblings. . .

Massachusetts has been spared major snowfall this winter. I do realize we have a few weeks left before spring … but snowfall now usually melts quickly. In past years we have had to shovel paths for alpacas to move about so that chore was not necessary (so far) nor was it missed.

Winter months are not pleasant for any farmer. Waste disposal comes to a ‘frozen’ standstill. Any icy precipitation thaws and turns to pure mud. Yes, mud. Not just a mud puddle … mud as far as you can see. And frozen waste mixes with mud to form sludge. It is not pretty.

Our farm is open to the public on Sunday afternoons and I cringe as I see visitors exit their vehicle wearing regular shoes. I tend to apologize for mother nature’s mess but it is a FARM! I’ll admit, I also apologize to visitors for alpacas sneezing on them, knocking cameras out of their hands, alpacas peeing close to the fence, alpaca females practicing dominance (they oggle like males too!) and I apologize for bird poop. It’s a FARM!!

So, although a bitter, snowy winter has eluded us, it’s mud season from now until May. Feel free to visit us but wear boots and it’s a farm … I’m sorry. : )

Winter weather and ALPACAS

Visitors often ask if the alpacas stay in the barn during snowstorms. The answer is ‘no’. The majority of them stay outside and seem to enjoy the snow. An alpaca with three inches of snow on his back will have warm, dry, fluffy wool underneath. Should there be a significant storm, they are wise enough to seek shelter.

As alpaca owners, a heavy winter snow means shoveling paths for the animals and lugging water buckets as water lines freeze. Feeding time doubles with added chores.

So, since alpacas stay warm and dry during snowstorms, doesn’t it make sense to wear alpaca socks, hats and gloves when working or playing outdoors this winter?

Supporting Made In The USA!

We support American farmers. Whether they have large or small farms, they have drive and put forth great effort with blood, sweat and tears.

We are fortunate to work with the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool (NEAFP) in Fall River. Approximately 4,500 farms across the US contribute to this ‘pool’ and utilize the NEAFP services so there are many farms selling amazing Made In The USA products.

Recently, several customers have stated that they purchased a certain hat or sock from an alpaca farm and the product wasn’t the quality expected. Other customers state they found a similar,less expensive product at another farm. More often than not, these products are Peruvian made. I must interject that there are Peruvian products that are substantial quality, however, we support Made In The USA!!!

In the mid ’80’s when the import of Peruvian alpacas was halted, American farmers worked tirelessly to create American herds with amazing wool. Today the American alpaca industry is booming. We are booming with PRIDE!! The products created through NEAFP (based in Fall River, MA) are made with USA alpaca fiber using USA fiber mills keeping jobs and the fiber industry alive in the USA!

So the next time you are purchasing warm, wooly alpaca fiber products, feel free to ask…”Was this proudly made in the USA?” At Kave Rock Farm, the answer is always YES!!!!

Crias

This is the first time we have had multiple crias at the same time. And… it’s amazing! The interaction between the three of them is comical. They take turns leading the race and jumping on one another. J J is the oldest and he prefers to play with Xena most of the time. He bites her and gets her to play ‘tag’ with him. Dollie, the youngest, is a bit more reserved and doesn’t stray far from her mama. She will sneak up on the other two, jump on one of them then run away. Watching baby animals play seems to lift daily stress away and is sure to bring you a laugh out loud moment.(Photos: Dollie, JJ, Xena)

Waiting for crias. . .

We are a society that hates to wait. So … waiting for alpacas to be born is like watching grass grow. The gestation of an alpaca is 11 1/2 months. 350 days to be exact!! Some alpacas can go 365-370 days. Tick…tock… Waiting!!

Here’s some fun facts:
A baby alpaca is called a CRIA. (Cree-ya)
Most ruminants (animals with multiple stomachs) deliver their babies in the early morning.
The average cria weighs 15-16 pounds at birth but a healthy birth weight can range from 12-22 lbs.
Alpacas birth one cria (although there are a few reports of twins)
The cria is typically up walking and nursing in an hour or two.
Crias have difficulty regulating body temperature when first born so they are monitored in warm weather (we keep them out of the hot sun) and they wear coats in cold weather.

So the next time you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or bank, just be glad you’re not waiting for a cria to be born!

Growing things …

The lush, green trees and wooded vegetation make our reservoir view nearly impossible.
The vegetable garden is spreading rapidly. The weeds are never ending as well. Three of our alpacas are growing wider as their due date (mid-August) creeps closer.

Alpacas enjoy a cool spray of water each day in summer’s scorching heat. They love their necks, bellies and tail area sprayed. The cool water also makes crias wiggle in their momma’s tummy. I actually squealed when I felt the movement of Kaleigh’s cria against my palm yesterday.

There are simple joys in the new life all around us. . .

Check out the photo of our ‘home grown’ socks!

How do know the difference??

Visitors will ask – How do you know the difference between your alpacas when many look alike?

Well, like humans, they have small differences – nose shape, eye lash length, color variations, ear size ….         The biggest difference is their individual personality.  We have some that interact with people and some that watch from a distance.  Some are bossy, most are curious, some are playful, some are serious, some are indifferent, and some are just constantly looking for food!

Alpacas, by nature, are skittish animals and do not relish being touched or pet.  A few of our alpacas will allow petting.  Most visitors want to dig their hand into the ‘poof’ at the top of their head.  The best approach is to let the animal smell your open hand and then slowly reach forward to pet the neck area.         You can also keep hands by your side and lean in for a nose bump.  Alpacas are NOT big spitters .

Come by sometime to visit !