Monday, February 09, 2004

Working with Autumn Heat

Now begins a bit of work: halter training Autumn Heat. It sounds easy. At least it did before I started working with him. I mean how hard can it be to get an animal to let you put a halter on? Well, guess what? The joke is on me.

I worked with him yesterday for about 2 hours. First Wayne (owner of Foothill Alpacas) and I herded the boys into a catch pen next to their paddock and separated out each boy until Autumn Heat was by himself. Then we cornered him and got a halter on him. The point I'm trying to get to is not having to use the catch pen or cornering him. I should be able to tell him "Autie, Stand" and he'll stay until I can get close enough to ease the halter over his nose. At the end of yesterday's two hour session, while still in the catch pen, he would let me walk up to him and tell him to stand. He would stand and then I could touch his wool or lift one of his front legs. As a general rule, pacas don't like to be touched. But if he's to perform well in a show ring, he needs to be comfortable (or at least not skittish) with being touched.

How he performs in a catch pen is one thing - I need him to do these things while in the paddock with his buddies. Unfortunately, his buddies are definitely skittish so I was concerned that once I let him back into his paddock, he'd be skittish too. Turns out I was right. He's what happened:

I led him back to the paddock using the halter and lead. Once inside, I unhooked the lead. Drat, I forgot to remove the halter! Double drat. Next I had to spend about 10 minutes trying to corner him so that I could take the halter off. In the end, Wayne helped me isolate him back in the catch pen.

I'm pretty sure that if Autie is going to be comfortable with me approaching him to put on the halter, I or Wayne will have to work with all of the boys in that paddock. Thankfully there are only five of them!

We'll see how Autie does today. I'm off to work with him again for a few hours.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

He's ours!

We are now the proud owners of FTHL Autumn Heat, a yearling male. You can see a picture of him in the January 13, 2004 post. He's being agisted at Foothill Llama and Alpaca Ranch until we are ready to move to our own ranch.

The search for a viable ranch location continues. This month we'll be scouting out parts of Oregon and Washington. The kids have a week off from school in February so we're driving up and staying with friends and relatives. (The kids just had two weeks in December and they get another week in April. I don't remember getting that much time off when I was in school!) Given that dh is a California boy and I've become spoiled by the temperate CA climate, it's going to be interesting to see how we fare for a week of February weather up north. DH is spending this week on Long Island New York, where the winter has been especially tough this year. We'll see how he feels about snow when he gets back. For me, I guess I'd be okay with a bit of snow each winter. When I say a "bit", I mean inches. Shovelling feet of snow just to get out to feed the animals is out of the question.

This week I'm spending my evenings sorting a dark chocolate baby alpaca fleece for cleaning. So far, the fiber is quite nice. This one doesn't have a lot of crimp but it sure is soft. I think I'll spin it a bit thicker than I usually would and then ply it with itself to make a chocolate yarn. I've already mixed a bit of this fiber with some white baby alpaca fiber and it made an interesting white with chocolate flecks yarn.