Aragorn loses his virginity

It’s time to start blogging again regularly so here is a random update from today. It’s of how Aragorn, one of our two stud males, finally got to mate and we are pretty certain he has never mated before.

Today Bear started training all by himself. This was after he had already fed the hens which probably means he just threw half the bag of feed at them. Confirmed by all the hens and the goose inside the barn still peeking when I finally came out to see what kind of training he was up to. Bear is our very loveable middle child who has high functioning autism. He often has his own way of approaching life. I want to encourage him to work with the alpacas as this is my whole reason for having them. Working with children with autism. Getting ASD (Autism Spectrum DIsorder) children outside and working with animals/alpacas.

I let the girls in and we had Millie, Ida and Milky in the handling pen. Millie to treat her back, Ida to give Bear a go at leading and Milky to start working with him (he is very nervous like his Mum/Millie so I’ve left him longer- he’s a year old).

We did everything despite Bears ‘help’. Really he just talks too much instead of listening but it is very good training for me. And we were packing away when Millie lay down in the run way and Leander (Milkys Papa ie the stud that works) started his clicky cheek noises and trying to push his way through the hurdles. I don’t want Leander to mate with Millie because I have already put her with Aragorn (although I doubt Aragorn did anything with her judging from his lack of action).

I called my family out to help and it took three of us adults and two children to get Leander out of the hurdles (they are cheap and pretty useless at holding back an alpaca/Leander in full ‘let me love her’ mode) and into the shelter with Ida (a whole other blog post will follow on Ida).

I noticed Aragorn make the same noise as Leander through his cheeks for a second so seeing how desperate Millie was, she was kushed down and almost immovable, we let him in to be with her. He is a funny chap and seemed more interested in what Leander was doing in the shelter than the hot chica smelling his rear end. Finally though somehow he got it and they mated and we all got very excited and some of us were a little grossed out at the anatomy of a stud male. We did leave them alone for a time but Dolores was lined up at the gate so he also mated her and all three are in a separate area tonight to see if the mating will be repeated and hopefully successful.

So that is our story of how the five year old stud male finally lost his virginity.

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Small successes are still successes.

Training today was fun. Although I really missed my training buddy Alexis. I worked with the boys starting with Aragorn and Leander in the pen. Aragorn was not interested in clicker training so I didn’t press him to be haltered either. I just want him to relax inside the pen. He is a tricky one but I am going to take the slow approach with him.

Leander quite enjoyed the clicker training although he was very v e r y   s l o w. I used the same method of holding the halter up, to encourage him to hold his head and then click, as I do with William. Considering this was his first time doing it he was great. I went on the mid line catch him to halter him, first time in so long I’ve tried it as I had reverted back to using the wand method, and then led him through the hurdle passage. It felt really good to be out there doing it again.

William was up next doing a new variation on clicker training. I had just been holding the halter and putting it over his nose but I realised I still need to mid line catch him. So we’ve effectively moved back a stage. Not that it matters. Todays method was holding up the halter helper and when he holds himself/his head near my hand and the helper I click. I also progressed to putting my other hand on the other side of his neck. Not touching him though as he was very very nervous. I also started clicker training him to accept the first touch of the mid line catch.

I worked a little with Roger but he is very nervous in the pen so we only did a tiny amount and then left it on a good note.

I’ve saved reporting the best part of the session for last. I invited Marmite into the pen. Although I had to move everyone else first as both Leander and WIlliam assert their dominance over him at every opportunity. I went slowly but like William he loves clicker training and is very bright so I had the best quickest results with him. In fact he loved it so much I managed to put the halter helper on him and take it off again all through clicker training and he held his calm. So so happy with him.

I can also report that none of the other boys really care for apples except for William who goes crazy for them.

On the plus side I’ve joined a research group on the down side…

On the down side I have lost all confidence in myself, my ability to work with animals and my animals.

What is going wrong?

I took the girls in for a training session. I started with Ida but she was difficult to catch. Trying the assertive method I probably caught her in a compromising position. She was annoyed about it and wouldn’t leave the shelter without me giving her some gentle encouragement from my hips. I did also try to take her towards the house whereas previously we always walk down our track. So it was a short session with Ida and not so fulfilling although once she is on the halter she is super sweet. I am also aware that leading one alpaca by itself isn’t going to work. More on the solution to that in a minute.

Then I took Susie out. She was fantastic at first. I caught her easily. She left the shelter easily. Then just as we stepped onto the track she just lay down. I gave her lots of Ttouch and even tried Ttouching her legs only to discover that got her up. Useful trick to know. It worked again when she lay down ‘dead’ two minutes later. So Susie isn’t keen on this trekking with alpacas thing.

Then I thought, why not? Let’s try Dolores. As you can see in the photos she was very good at standing still. But she wouldn’t really go anywhere.

I need a refresher course or some more compliant animals. Hard not to feel like this was another  crazy idea and I am not capable of pulling it off. But I don’t feel like that for long. Did I ever think it was going to be easy>? Nope I did not. Am I longing for the satisfaction of  getting them to be trained and super duper easy? Yes that is all I dream of.

They say never blame your tools. Can I blame my set up?

It is terrible and I need to get my midway finances for the SSE grant in so I can buy new hurdles so I can do the handling in a proper setting. Phew. I will get there.

And if it is me that needs to change my techniques (almost definately is) then good thing I am going on Marty’s advance in two days!

The research group is a project Cornwall Council are setting up about asking organisation if they feel they have enough autism training. We get to write the questions, chose who to ask, go ask people and write the report. Or course we aren’t paid but it is useful avenue to networking with others.

So guess who slept all day? And who worked hard tidying up the mayhem?

Wow!

We had a busy day today all because I didn’t listen to my good friend and neighbours warning yesterday when he told me that although the electric fence was on one pig had her bottom happily pressed against it.

Huh. Turned out to be a big mistake!

The day went like this;

Medium child early this morning ‘Mama, the pigs are out!!!’

Me – rolls over thinking ‘oh well they are probably just eating the grass in the field.’

I get up look out of the window ‘ARGHHHHH!’ Field is trashed it looks like it has been ploughed up over night.

I look out another window ‘ARGHHHH’ back lawn is also trashed.

I look out the bathroom window I am obviously delirious because I think I see a beehive turned upside down (turns out this was wrong).

I rush out and start to doing morning jobs with three pigs going crazy around me. I totally refuse to take them back first as we, oh no  I mean they, discovered early on that if they escaped they got fed. So all other animals are panicking as I walk around with the pigs in tow or actually ahead of me right, infront of me and virtually on top of me. They have no sense of personal space I noticed ruefully. I am less cross with them as they didn’t actually trash the beehives, I was just bleary eyed, but still annoyed enough to not yet feed them. Plus I had my warning from Frank. I just hadn’t heeded it. So round we go.

I discover more mayhem when it comes to where the alpacas are as Millie and Susie have trashed a fence and are in the boys field AGAIN! Although the real damage is only discovered later.

Then the saddest bit of my morning when I opened Rex’s cage baby flopsy/mopsy or cottontail had died in the night. I can’t blame that on me not listening to Franks warning but it really was sad. All the other babies had escaped and this one had now died. Poor Rexy.

To return the girls back to the big field I used their feed to tempt them back. Way too hard with three noisy piggies though, so they were finally sent back to their muddy muddy patch and fed. It was a little annoying to get the girls out as the boys wanted to come out too and eat but we managed it in the end. Then I had to fend off the chickens who all come along and steal their food. The alpacas just let them!

Later we noticed the damage though. Poor Milly had torned part of her leg on the wire and we had to fashion ourselves a hospital bay out of hurdles and treat her.I even put a halter helper on her, did some racheting and used Ttouch. It wasn’t easy though. I’ll take photos tomorrow to show you but the space was too big.

It’s been a long day. Oh, and to finish the story after the three little piggies had their breakfast they went to bed. And slept all day. They got up just when we had finished treating Milly (about six thirty!) and ate some more leftovers. It’s alright for some 🙂

Hurdles

Hurdles are an essential piece of kit for alpaca keeping.
I had no idea how useful but over the last few months they have proved invaluable.
Some of these maybe obvious but always good to go over.

They are moveable.
They can block entrances/exits.
They make holding pens.
They act as doors.
They make temporary fencing.

Today I have set up my hurdles infront of our garage as a temporary holding pen.

Facing the garage – the alpacas will be in the hurdles while they wait to be shorn.
Looking out of the garage – the white rope (hopefully!) will hold back the main herd while the next alpaca queues up for their turn.

I will be uploading before and after shots later as well as some of the shearing process.

Wish us luck it is our first time.