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.

How to spit it out and Susie is a tricksy one

Ok so yesterday I said I’d bought a book about being a woman with Aspegers but I wasn’t comfortable with that classification. I just wanted to say why because I don’t want to upset anyone who is happy being an Aspie woman.

I’ll get on to tricksy Susie at the end. Bear with me.

Or skip this self indulgent blah explanation ang get straight to the fun bit about alpacas.

To get diagnosed with autism as an adult in the UK there seem to be only one way and that is as an adult with Aspergers.

When I was trying to find out if my beautiful (capable and amazing) son was on the spectrum I read lots online and took out books in the library. One of the books which really spoke to me directly was Thom Hartmann’s ‘Attention Deficit Disorder. A different Perception’. So while I was unsure about my son I was sure I had ADD.

I went to my GP twice. The first time I was sent away with ‘you have probably been reading too much into your sons condition and now self identify. Come back again if you feel nothing has changed.’  I saw a different GP the second time. He told me I had anxiety (new to me but turned out to be true) and probably had Bipolar not autism. Anyway he did send me to a counsellor (she was fantastic and weirdly Colombian!). And she referred me to the Asperger psychologist. In my first session I was quite sure I did not have Aspergers but probably ADD or possibly High Functioning Autism. You see I was quite particular about the differences especially at this point of being new to reading about each different strand on the spectrum. But they only offer the Asperger diagnosis. So after four or five sessions (and talking to my Mum) the psychologist said I had a working diagnosis of Aspergers. But I have never been comfortable with this ‘label’ and I’ll explain more below.

I did ask for a ‘test’ for ADD and went along to an intial meeting. It was horrible experience. I cried. Basically if I wanted drugs she would refer me to the specialist. But I didn’t and don’t so I left. Humiliated and wondering why I had wanted to put myself through all this.

It was a good experience in many ways because I really felt utterly crap afterwards and realised I was capable in many ways and what I wanted to do was stop myself falling in big holes and messing up my life as I had done before. So I picked myself up and am slowly starting from the basics.

These are a few of the reasons I know I have ADD.

Disorganisation and indecision followed by snap decisions (not always good ones).

(Very very) Easily distracted from things I am not interested in but can not bear/hear/notice others when I am loving what I am doing.

Distortions of time sense… I am a total daydreamer or obsessive about a task I want to complete. More commonly known to everyone around me as not paying attention to them.

As a child I also used to sit outside my mums friends houses and collect stones (often just gravel 😦 ). I would not go in.

I could go on (obsessively) but anyway I don’t believe I am an Aspbie because I don’t classify things (I don’t like labels really), I don’t remember facts (although I do remember telephone numbers long ones), so that’s why…

If anyone wants to keep talking about this or themselves or the differences between ADD, Aspegers, High Functioning Autism… I’ll happily do that…

So Susie…

I went and took Ida out for a fifth time and noticed that the others were being mean to her as I haltered her. I thought, ‘huh they are making it personal’ so after I took Ida out on the lead rope I haltered Susie.

Oh she does like contortions and using her body to not do things. It could have been considered painful. Each movement her head was low and she took steps in groups of two or three then stopped. But I was patient. Even when she lay down I just went over and gave her some Ttouch. And waited then encouraged her to get up. And she did it. She doesn’t like going round the old branches and she didn’t like going back into the shelter, as it had small space with me infront, so I went behind her and gave her a little push (oh and more Ttouch) and in she went.

It was slow. And she was stumbly and tricksy. But she did do it. Next stop Dolores, Mrs spitty pants herself. We can do it girls!

Booked but terrified now!

Feeling slightly nervous as I have just booked my accommodation for the Advanced Clinic with Marty McGee Bennett in May. It’s 4 nights long! That’s a long time to be away from all the boys.

I’m probably a bit apprehensive about the clinic too. It didn’t help that on Julie’s Basic Handling Course she kept dropping statements like ‘Oh, just to warn you, Marty gets annoyed if you don’t have good herding technique.’ I think I’m alright at herding but maybe I’m not good enough. I’m sure Susie and co will give me lots of practice before then.

Still. The place looks amazing and the clinic will be lots of fun.

Missing the boys may be really tough but I can call them three times a day.

Haltering made easier

Second day trying to halter a couple of the boys and Leander is dreamy about it. Couldn’t do Aragorn still. He is massive though. I tried William too but the set up was still wrong and he panicked so I had to let him out. Chickens and dogs all jumping around the area don’t seem to calm alpacas. Funnily enough.

IMG_2398[1]The neon halter helper along side the mid line catch really does make a world of difference. Of course losing that tiny bit of nerves I realised I still had inside didn’t really make it easier.

Am I able to do agility?

It was another great learning session on Julie’s Camelidynamics course today. Nose loops, more clicker training, tag teaching, and agility. But can I do agility?

We did more tag teaching in the morning. To teach me some of the things I had missed on day one. So I got taught what Julie calls the snoot loop or the nose loop. This is a technique to get a halter shy alpaca prepared for having pressure over the bridge of it’s nose. After the tag teach session we went out and collected the boys so we could all have a practise.

During another yummy lunch Julie took a phone call about some 25 year old escaping guanacos. Their owner had had them for 17 years without any problems but when she brought in some kune kune pigs they freaked out (hmmm sounds familiar) and started escaping. The pigs have gone but the guanacos having discovered they can escape keep on escaping and their owner can’t afford to put in higher fencing. Unfortunately they will probably be euthanised rather than rehomed because they are already so old. Although as we discussed is it worse or better that their lives end in a field while they are happily eating? They wouldn’t even be aware they were about to go. I don’t know the end of this story. Maybe the legend of the guanacos of Bodmin moor has been born? We did all decide that camelid owners did need to be more aware of how badly their animals could react to pigs and in our experience it seemed that camelid owners mainly get kune kune pigs. No idea if there is a reason for that but three of us round the table had kunes. I am actually really grateful to our kunes for giving our alpacas the opportunity to learn they are not so scary. A great lesson for animals I would like to take out and about.

After lunch we went and herded the girls in. We practised leading on eachother althtough that was quite strange. It was useful though as getting the hang of starting and stopping is quite hard. Mainly stopping especially on a human as they are happy to start. Then we haltered the girls and took them out to practise for real.

I took Rosetta out. She is such a loveliest suri. And Chris and Rachel took out the two Llamas, Katia and Lucy. We practised leading them up and down the lane. The only issue I had with Rosetta, who seems to be beautifully capable at everything, was she would start to overtake me. It took me most of the afternoon to get the hang of this. I have to use the wand to slow her down or do a little circle turn with her.

Then we lead the girls up to the agility paddock. My years of dog training Misty and Rupert came back to me. I really love this. Rosetta was showing her alpaca side and missing leaving the herd behind us in the other paddock although she still managed to complete most of the course. There were only a few things that she shied at doing. The main one being the trailer which she did have a little moment about coming down the ramp. The whole experience was an amazing lesson for me in that while leading an alpaca along a lane and through a field or through trees is lovely the most powerful way to learn and build a relationship is leading the alpaca through a series of obstacles. I learnt different placing for my hand depending on what we were going through. Different body placements. How to use the wand. How to listen to Rosetta to give her time to look at an obstacle or slow her down so she is better prepared. I learnt so much and I still know very little. It has left me very keen to try this out with the ChyPacas herd.

Agility is an amazing learning tool.

 

New handling tools tested!

I ordered a new selection of handling tools from the lovely Julie at Carthvean.

Inside the parcel was a TTEAM clip wand. I tested this today and found it really improved the speed with which I can attach the lead rope around the neck and in some ways therefore does reduce stress for the alpacas. The only thing I found was the alpacas were very wary odf the wand going over the head. It did make some of them quite jumpy. It makes the whole process so much faster though I think in balance it is a fantastic tool for handling nervous animals. In a couple of day time it will be interesting to see if we have progressed further than today. I hope they will get used to the wand going over their heads and hopefully we can move towards the next step.

Slowly, slowly.

I would love to hear your experiences handling your alpacas.