I have to be honest and say that I haven’t been training much over the last few months. There are lots of reasons. Lack of time. Indecision can I fit the work in with all the upheaval of our daily lives with 2 kids on the spectrum? Missing my amazing training partner (Alexis! That’s YOU!).
So I’ve felt distant from the herd. Our relationship has changed. William seems to look at me with the ever present question of are we training for treats today? But I don’t and he seems annoyed. But then he always looks annoyed. That’s part of his charm. Ida is still the same Ida but she is probably worried I may lock her in a small hurdled space with Leander for romance.
But today was a great day. It wasn’t actually the first time but this time was better. The tentative looks had vanished. The hesitation had disapeared.
Aragorn is eating out of my hand.
He has a current love of dandelions and fat hen. He was tentative and furtive at first but then he was eating like Susie and Ida. In fact he nosed Susie out the way. Has anyalpaca ever done that before? Not in Susie’s herd. But she let him.
I’m excited all over again. It is such a special feeling being with them all. Each of them has such a distinct and special personality. I want to share them with others. I want to see children get the same joy from hand feeding and working with them that I feel being around them. I need to find a training partner and start writing grants for cash to get the project going….
Ahhh but it’s massive!
Anyone for weekly alpaca training? (no spitting allowed).
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.
I should have spotted the ajar gate (the rope slips and a gap opens) myself but I was in full groggy morning not even drank my cider vinegar let alone coffee moment at a lot before 7am. So Marmite slips out one way (to the girls side) and Dolores and Foxglove slip in with the boys.
Annoyed I feed all the other girls first before opening a gap in the hurdles for Dolores. Who comes back quick as a flash now food is on that side. I leave MArmite and we move him back as we leave for town at 9am. Annoying but like water off a ducks back to us.
Always be aware of these little too easy annoying moments.
Before you know it you are walking through the field of an evening when the erie realisation hits you it is….
I ran to the check the gate. Oh yes a gap has slipped open because we have got a little lazy with our gate closing. The gates post has slid to an angle so to open and close the gate we have to lift it quite a lot.
Luckily this post does have a happy ending. I couldn’t see the girls but I had to run back home for help because the cows were right there and they love coming into our field at any open chance. It’s used to be theirs to enjoy and now it is forbidden. We know how that goes.
I went to get the magic white herding sticks and then on second thoughts the bucket with food. The help went on a bike looking for the girls. I came out with the bucket and wands to see Dolores and Millie and Ida and Susie coming up the track.
Came home today to a semi unexpected arrival. Millie has given birth to a cria. Jonas has called him Milky but hoping we can find him something a little more sophisicated.
He was only semi unexpected as yesterday Susie had a cria too. Only he didn’t survive. We don’t know what happened but he was already dead when we found him. Poor Susie. We left his body out as I had heard that is better for the mother to grieve and we buried him tonight in the orchard. We are still very sad although it is amazing and beautiful that Millie has given birth to her first tonight.
They only reason we were so close to the cria tonight was to move both Mum and babe into the smaller field and into the shelter. I am very aware of the behavioural damage we could inflict on the newborn if we were to have contact. Herd and Mama bonding in the early weeks and months is essential for normal behaviour. The other alpacas were so gorgeous with him. The other girls all went to the same little paddock. Ida and Dolores suddenly look very fat!
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.
We’ve been up at Eden again today for the School of Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) course. Now midway through the course! It was a really great session on raising finances. Yey.
But I have been feeling sick ever since mid afternoon. And we have to go again tomorrow. AND we have homework. Which I should be doing but always more fun to do something else isn’t it?
Tomorrow we are going over our mission and social aims/impacts.
My Mission is;
ChyPacas takes you through Penwith in a unique way. Walking the beautiful peninsula with alpacas you will discover new places inside of yourself by sharing your walk with Susie, Ida, Dolores, Leander, Aragorn, Marmite, Roger or William. Your trek leader will be specially trained in helping yo to get the most from the day. She will be a sibling of someone on the autism spectrum or on the spectrum herself. All people are capable of transforming themselves positively and ChyPacas offers a hand to those brave enough to seek change within themselves..
For my social aim comment I have written;
to promote learning from animals showing how we are related emotionally and spiritually to them for the benefit of ourselves and the animals we chose to work with.
But I’ve ended on a preposition. Does it even make sense? Or have I totally bombed out with this sickness thing?