A heartwarming story of a little life…

Only a few days ago, Mont Blanc approached the fence welcoming us.  Perhaps somehow he knows how much we care. See his story below

When we first arrived on the Watson Alpaca Farm on January 19, 2016, we had an experience with one of the cria, Mont Blanc, son of Giselle that we’ll never forget as shown in this post from January 26th. 

Mont Blanc was born on January 10th with blue eyes considered an anomaly, which Trish explained could indicate possible future health problems often observed in rare blue-eyed alpacas.

It’s been hard to get a good photo of Mont Blanc’s blue eyes with his long lashes. 

Somehow the tiny alpaca had maneuvered his way under the wire fence and was separated from his mother when they were in the paddock next to our house. 

We were inside when this occurred, but with the doors wide open we couldn’t help but hear his cries, his mother’s cries, and the cries of the others as they all worried about the fate of the separated cria at this point only a few weeks old.

Mont Blanc, the day he was reunited with his mom after escaping the fence.

Inexperienced as we were, we feared lifting Mont Blanc over the fence would be stressful for him or risky for us if Giselle was upset if we’d picked him up. Now we know better. We could have lifted him over the fence, returning him to his distressed mom.

Contacting Trish by phone she explained that she and Neil were on their way home from work to check on the alpacas as they do each day at lunchtime. In no time at all, they arrived, lifted Mont Blanc over the fence as we watched the joyful reunion of mother and son. 

Mont Blanc, on the left wearing his green collar sitting on the patch of dirt with the other much larger, younger cria only a few weeks ago.

We watched Mont Blanc and Giselle for days noticing how he never left her side, remembering all too well the distress of being separated for almost an hour. It was during this period we developed a special attachment to Mont Blanc and his quiet shy demeanor, less playful than the other cria who romped about the paddock in the evenings as the sun began to fade.

Since the alpacas are moved to “greener pastures” every week to allow grass to regrow from their constant grazing and to restore the area from parasites as a natural part of the animal’s defecation contributes to the growth of a variety of parasites that can ultimately affect the health of the alpacas.

Mont Blanc, a few days after he and his mom were moved out of the paddock with a few new moms and cria as opposed to the larger herd. 

Trish and Neil are diligent in managing control over the general health of the alpacas including management of the parasites both in the paddocks and the alpacas to ensure their continuing well-being. We’re continually amazed by the alpaca’s great health as a direct result of their diligent love and care.

When the alpaca group we’ve been observing these past two months spent time in the paddocks nearest the house, we couldn’t help but notice Mont Blanc’s small stature and over time, how he didn’t seem to thrive. 

Mont Blanc, a few days ago, bigger and healthier, nursing without sharing.

The many other younger cria surpassed him in height and weight. He seemed to struggle to get up and down when he hunkered down on the patch of dirt outside our living room door where the babies often cuddle together. Over time, we noticed his rib cage showing. 

When I mentioned our concerns to Trish, she mentioned they’d tried to bottle feed him but with the alpacas at a distance from their house, they weren’t able to see him as easily each day as we were at such close proximity.

About 10 days ago, as I sat on the deck lost in watching the adorable behavior of these precious beings, I observed this unusual scenario, another larger cria nursing off Mont Blanc’s mom. 

Mont Blanc, the smaller of the two in this photo, was being pushed out from nursing by this other youngster. Alpacas only have one cria each year and rarely nurse another baby.

Immediately, I sent Trish the photos, and that evening after work, Trish and Neil came and moved Mont Blanc and Giselle to another paddock where he wouldn’t have to compete for food from his mom. We’d rarely seen him nursing or even grazing that all the younger cria had begun doing regularly.

Each day after they were moved we walked to the distant paddock to see how he was doing and much to our delight, he was often nursing and munching on grass.  In only a matter of a few days, he began to fill out. His ribs were no longer showing. Now, he’s thriving and quickly growing.

Mom growled a little at the other cria when she noticed what was going on.

Yesterday, Trish stopped by to drop off our insurance documents that had arrived in the mail from the UK and to tell us that Mont Blanc has gain 2 kilos, 4.4 pounds since they were moved. 

When she said to us, “You may have saved his life,” our heart flipped in our chests. How much better could this experience have been for both of us? 

The pinkness of his nose and mouth is changing as he matures and grows healthy.

To be instrumental in the birth of a two cria while we “babysat” in Trish and Neil’s absence and then to play a small role in alerting them to the critical situation with Mont Blanc, our experience on the farm is complete. 

Although we haven’t had to “do the work” that Trish and Neil do each day and the work and responsibility of our ancestors living on farms, we’ll be eternally grateful for a new understanding and appreciation for life on a farm.

Mont Blanc with a blade of grass in his mouth is looking great!  His name tag says, “Mt. Blanc” like the name of the pricey pen.

Soon, our journey continues on with more life-changing opportunities to expand our personal growth and embrace the scope of the world around us.

Be well, dear friends…

Photo from one year ago today, March 18, 2015:
One year ago, the food in the Oasis restaurant at the resort was delicious according to my sister Julie who was visiting us in Kauai. Her lunch of fish taco was prepared perfectly. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one item on the menu that worked for me and I wasn’t hungry enough to ask for special modifications. I ordered an iced tea and was content to be with my sister as we looked out at the sea. For more photos please click here.

Another extraordinary day on the farm…Graphic birthing video and photos…

This is the first full birthing video we’ve taken since our arrival at the alpaca farm over six weeks ago.

I get it. Some of our readers may be tired of hearing about the alpacas. For you, we apologize for our one-track minds while living on this farm. Were any animal lovers living here, it would be easy to see how enthralled we have become with these amazing animals.

We both giggled over our “safari luck” to be able to see the birth when we happened to be walking past.

While living in  South Africa, we were equally wrapped up in the animals on a daily basis as they wandered about our vacation rental, in the same manner, they do here. 

The only difference here is the lack of variety in breeds of animals when instead we have the immense variety of the differences in personalities of the alpacas the more and more we come to know them. Even the rapidly growing cria have developed their own demeanor setting them apart from the others.

Elliouse walked about the paddock as the birth progressed, never far from the other mom or our easy viewing.
Yesterday morning, Tom and I walked toward Trish and Neil’s home to check out birds they invited us to see at any time. Although they weren’t home we were sensitive in respecting their privacy by avoiding any photos of their house itself instead, taking photos of some of the interesting surroundings which we’ll soon post.

We never saw the birds they’d described but will return again soon to see what we may find and when we do, we’ll certainly post those photos as well.

More ears crowning.

On the way toward their home, I mentioned to Tom that one of the four pregnant moms was moaning all of which have been kept in the separate paddock along the road awaiting the birth of their cria.  

With his less-than-ideal hearing from years of working on the railroad, at times he’s unable to hear certain sounds.  On the walk back from their home, I noticed the moaning has escalated a little, not outrageously loud but slightly more detectible. At that point, Tom was able to hear her as well.

For a moment, Elliouse sat down to rest while the other moms watched with their heads up as they waited for the birth.

We stopped, camera in hand, and with our limited experience we could tell a small portion of the cria’s face was “crowning.” The birth of the cria could be imminent. As small as she was compared to the others, we wondered if she may be a young mom having her first birth. Would her small stature present as an issue? 

With Trish and Neil at work, with him as a physician (not a vet) and both highly experienced in the delivery of the cria, if we needed to reach them we could do so quickly when they both work in town and could get back to the farm in 20 minutes, if necessary.

Elouise almost looks as if she is smiling as she sees the cria’s birth was going as nature intended with the front legs showing. We were also relieved.

Seeing the face crowning through the membranes gave us comfort in hoping we’d soon see the front legs.  Trish and Neil explained that if face and front legs come first, most likely the remainder of the birth will go well, providing there were no other unforeseen complications. 

Having had this experience when Miss Jessica was born one week before my birthday, we’d joyfully watched over her birth when Trish and Neil were out of the town.  With both of them in close proximity and, based on our past experience, we weren’t worried, instead, feeling excited. 

Our goal during yesterday’s occasion was to make a video of the miraculous birth in its entirety with a number of photos accompanying the experience, should anything go wrong with the video.

The cria gently landed on the ground listless only for a few minutes while we watched in anticipation.

With our relatively modest lightweight camera which soon must be replaced after substantial humidity has caused issues over these past 18 months, taking videos is tricky. Regardless, we forged ahead, managing to get the video we hoped at the exact moments of the birth. 

Holding up the camera up for so long was challenging but my motivation didn’t falter. Pain or not, I held it up in place as we waited, attempting to anticipate the moment to begin the video when our intention was to keep it short with uploading issues on metered wifi. 

Few readers care to watch a 10-minute video when we’ve determined keeping a video under two minutes is ideal which we managed in this case albeit a bit shakily when I’d been holding up the camera for quite some time. There was no time to run back to our house for the tripod.

This is at 10 minutes after the birth, as the cria wiggles on the grass attempting to stand.

It was interesting watching the three other moms as they stood to watch over her during the birth of her cria.  There was no doubt in our minds they were well aware of what was transpiring as they spent less time grazing and more time on the lookout and engaged in the birth. 

Once the baby was born we started the countdown on the 20 minutes requirement for the cria to stand on its own. If the cria struggled to stand after this time frame or seemed listless, we may have had to help which we were prepared to do if necessary.

This cria hardly needed human intervention when he (we later discovered it was a male), squirmed about almost constantly during that 20 minute period raising his head in less than 8 minutes after his birth.

Smaller mom, Eliouse, didn’t seem to want aunties intruding with the cria, hissing at this pregnant mom a few times.

In precisely 24 minutes from the birth, the cria was on his feet. Wobbly on spindly legs we laughed over and over as he attempted to stand, finally doing so with little certainty but considerable enthusiasm.

We’d be standing at the paddock for over an hour. With the cria and mom both looking healthy and happy we returned home anxious to email Trish, check our photos, and upload the video to YouTube. 

Finally, 24 minutes after birth the cria stands on wobbly legs while mom watches. It’s amazing how the moms know the cria must stand quickly to ensure their good health.

A short time later, we spotted Trish and Neil at the paddock. As it turned out, they were on their way home for lunch, a daily occurrence on workdays. We’d sent an email but they’d yet to see it. 

They were as excited as we were when we shared the experience in their absence.  They explained the mom, named Eliouse, was in fact 12 years old, having given birth to many cria over the years, and was an attentive and loving mom.

Now, with only three pregnant moms yet to give birth, we chuckled over how timely our stay on the farm has been. Had we arrived at any other time of the year, we’d have missed these delightful experiences of the births and the pure pleasure of watching these playful youngsters as they quickly grow.

If showing these funny lower teeth (alpacas don’t have upper teeth) can indicate an emotional state of happiness, Eliouse was indeed happy with the birth of her new offspring. We were happy too!  What an experience!

Today, when the cleaning people arrive soon, we’ll be off to town to shop at a variety of markets. We both enjoy the shopping each week, especially stopping at a number of locations.

Each day offers some degree of magic, whether it’s the birth of a cria, the singing of a bird, or a flower blooming as summer winds down in New Zealand. It only requires us to pay attention to our surroundings. May your surroundings provide YOU with some magic today!

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2015:

Kealia Beach as we walked along the Kauai Path on a sunny day in Kauai one year ago. For more photos from the Kauai Path, please click here.