About six weeks ago (very delayed posting!), I noticed that Zoe, one of our white alpacas, had a chunk of her toe nail hanging off. I was so worried… we’ve had them since July and I’ve seen them every day, and they look for me and I know they love me…. (confession time)… I haven’t handled them at all. I haven’t tried to corral them, or put a halter on. I have this book and I’ve read it cover to cover and have referred to it a bunch of times, but I hadn’t tried the handling stuff with the girls yet.
I was thinking that I wanted them to get comfortable and feel safe around me and I kept thinking that the handling would come more naturally, like they’d just come up to me and put their heads into halters and say, “let’s go for a walk, Mom”… that didn’t happen. Such a shock!
Well, now there was something wrong, and we needed to get a better look at it, and oh yeah, we were past due on trimming their nails, because white alpacas’ nails grow very quickly, and we should do it every twelve weeks and it was November and it’d been since May… ohhhhh noooo, now I’m the worst. I’m a neglectful alpaca owner… 🙁
Here we go, Girls… it’s time to get you corralled… c’mon…
No? You don’t want to play? Hmmmm… how ’bout if I give you some grain? Then will you let me catch you? Will you stand still so I can put your halter on? And can I use these very very sharp cutters on your feet? Please?
I thought I could lure them into the shelter using grain – in that gutter on the wall, and then trap them with the portable fence. They found a way around it.
No, nope, not gonna happen!
Shaleigh was helping cleaning up poop.
Still running… I forgot everything I learned in the book. You’re supposed to get them to a smaller section of the field and make it smaller and smaller and make yourself bigger and bigger to close off the space as you corner them. (Not a good description, but hopefully you can picture it). Also, having two more more people helps, too, because one can grab and one can block… it’s hard to do both. Here, they have the whole field, which makes everything harder.
Eventually, I got Carson involved, and we got them trapped in the upper 1/4 of the field using that orange mesh construction netting and some sticks.
Annnnd, I called our friend, Shirley. We got our alpacas from her and she’s been such an amazing mentor and resource. She came over with her nail trimmers and skill and experience, and Carson, Shirley and I got them cornered. We checked Zoe’s nail, and turns out she was fine… the piece I was worried about fell off on its own in all that running and trying to get away from me. Phew. And we got their nails trimmed. It wasn’t pretty or easy (that’s why I have no pictures of the process), but we got it done.
The most submissive and docile alpaca, Phoebe, threw the biggest fit… even jumping up on two legs. Carson is a big strong man and she gave him a run for his money. She was foaming at the mouth and fighting us so hard. Looking back, we think maybe the halter I have for her wasn’t big enough and she was fighting because of that. I’m not sure. I hope it’s not that hard every time.
The one we thought for sure would spit, Midori, didn’t. She was pretty easy. We started with her because she’s small… and she just went with it. Phew!
And Zoe, wasn’t a big problem at all… She went with it more peacefully than expected.
They are eating grain out of my hand – and Shaleigh’s hand – and kissing us! And they definitely like and trust us more than they did then.
But, unfortunately, with the shorter days, holidays and dryer balls, and all of the other things we’ve had going on, I haven’t had more of a chance to get back to working on haltering and handling.
In the new year, I’m going to get them haltered at least once a week and I’m hoping by Spring and Summer we’ll be able to take them for walks around our property and let people come by for Farm Tours and to be able pet them.
So it’s back to the book for me. And, of course, back to the field.