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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Week in Two Parts

~ two of my alpacas ~
Some have said they really enjoy my farm posts and, in that interest, I'm going to encapsulate the last week for you. This is Part 1 and Part 2 will be on Monday, after tomorrow's Sabbath Keeping.

A week ago Thursday, or maybe Friday, I noticed an alpaca wasn't acting "right". Anyone who works, or lives, with animals notices when something is "off" and my general attitude is, it's always easier and less expensive to stay well than to get well.  'Paca Rose seemed a bit off and I started keeping a close eye on him. It didn't take long because he went down, rolled on his side,stayed there and he couldn't get up without help. I de-wormed him with Panacure, helped him to his feet and he went on his merry way. The next morning, he was down again so I de-wormed him with Ivermectrin, helped him to his feet and kept an eye on him. 

This goes on for days...him down, me getting him up...but he's in good spirits, is alert, is eating and drinking, but when he lays on his side, he cannot get up. (Maybe he's too fat???) He gets up just fine when he sits down upright; it's a puzzle for sure.

Dr. Anne, Daddy John's sister and one of the best vet's around, and I ran into each other at Big Lots. She and Henry, her husband, and I, sat on the furniture for sale and caught up, during which, I told her about the 'paca and said, "Is it time to call you?" She grinned and said, "Naw, you're doing what I'd do except I'd give him a shot or two." 

{As an aside, don't you love a vet who teaches and trains you to look after your own animals? Her attitude is, "call me for the emergencies" and I love her for it. When she first came back to Tazewell, I told her Mother, "Anne is a good vet and I think she has the makings of a great one." I sincerely thought so then and time has only strengthened my opinion.}

Anyway, Thanksgiving morning, we had six inches of snow on the ground with drifts of two feet and more. At dawn, as is my habit, I start going from window to window, counting animals...26 sheep, 8 horses, 4 alpacas, 3 guinea's...and found only three alpacas. 'Paca Rose was missing. I waited until the sun was well and truly up, 7:00, before donning four layers, Muck boots, Dave's old ski coat and hat, put sweaters on the dogs, then headed outside. I decided to use the Ranger as it provides not only transportation but shelter. The dogs ride with me and, should I be injured (unless I was unconscious), I could always crawl back to the Ranger, start it, be warm and possibly even get to an outside fence where I could flag down a passing farmer.

Yes, with God's help, I'm pretty sure I could do all that because the first September Dave and I lived here, while carrying a basket of laundry, I stepped off the back porch, a distance of six inches, and heard, then felt, my right ankle snap like a twig. I'll have to admit a curse word ran through my mind; it was my intention to put up the laundry, collect the truck keys then head to Princeton to pick up my cat at the vet's office. Zoe had been there for three days with some mysterious illness and I'd called every praying, animal person I knew to pray for her recovery. That morning, the vet called to say, "Zoe's going to make it, you can pick her up this morning." I was going.

The pain wasn't that bad extreme but I started limping immediately. Dave asked, "What's wrong? What did you do to yourself?" I explained I'd twisted my ankle (mostly true) and it hurt (totally true). He said, "Why not wait until Monday to get Zoe?" 

I just kept walking toward the truck. The neighbor he called said, yes, she'd ride with me and soon enough, we were headed to Princeton, and I was driving. When we'd navigated the fifty-mile one way trip, the vet explained he had no clue what was wrong with Zoe. He knew she was jaundiced but didn't know why and had pumped her full of liquid antibiotics and she'd recovered. I explained about the many folks who'd been praying for her and he said, "That works too." 

I handed the truck keys to my neighbor and said, "I broke my ankle, will you drive home?" She blanched and said, "When did you break your ankle?" I explained and she said, "I cannot believe you drove up here; you could have come on Monday!" 

Yeah, yeah, already heard that this morning. The vet offered to x-ray my ankle but I said, "Why bother? I know it's broken, I heard it break. Right now I just need to get home and get off it" so we got back on the road, Zoe in my arms and me crooning to her like a loon.

When we got home, Dave made me get back in the truck and he drove me to the emergency room where they said (big surprise!), It's broken." They wrapped it, gave me the number of an ortho specialist and for six weeks, I limped around on crutches. 
~ my helpers, Sophie, Sam, Sadie - front to back ~
That's why I'm pretty sure if I get hurt and I'm not unconscious, I can crawl back to the Ranger and go for help. Or, at least have shelter until, hopefully, someone notices the Ranger sitting in the same spot and comes to investigate. I suppose I could carry a mobile phone but...there isn't any cell phone reception around here. 

Anyway, back to the original story...the Ranger needs a battery and wouldn't start. I had to get the jump starter (thank God I bought one last year), start the battery and begin my search. I searched for two and a half hours before I gave up. During that two and a half hour period, I got the Ranger stuck in a huge snow drift, had to dig out three times, using only my hands, and to lend more humor to the story, had to re-stack the hay in the back of the Ranger because Sam stepped on the UP button, raised the hydraulic bed and emptied it.
Hey, you might as well laugh because it's all funny and the statistics are out of one will, eventually, die. At my end, I want to be singing "Jesus Loves Me" or, at the very least, laughing my way into heaven.

By this time I was anxious, coldish, tired and still no dang alpaca! I decided to ride down the road and ask Daddy John if he'd help me (remember, this is Thanksgiving morning). He was filling the whatever it's called with silage so he could feed his cattle and, bless him!, he said, "Let's look now", turned off his tractor and got in the Ranger. I asked him to drive so I could, hopefully, keep the three dogs off him; they were thrilled to have someone new to love on and, promptly, tried to climb in his lap. I pulled the dogs into my lap and, as we're pulling into the road, my door swings open and I begin falling...out. I think I yelped, grabbed the steering wheel while John made a swipe at me, and pulled the door shut behind me. No one fell out so it's all good.

We headed back to the farm, went through the lower pasture and, in the center pasture, found the 'paca stretched out on the ground, dead, we thought. He was only four feet from one of my passes but, in my defense, he was on my upper, blind side, and at that particular point, I was busy trying to figure out how to not turn the Ranger over and go downhill. Daddy John has way more experience than I and he knows, better than I, how the machine will handle on a steep hill. (I knew he'd love driving it and figured he should get some fun for his trouble in helping me -grin-.)
John got the animal to his feet and moved him a short distance, into another lot, where he could be kept captive. We bedded him on hay, then piled hay around him so he could sleep warm and eat without moving. Frankly, I was amazed, shocked and surprised we got him this far. When we first found him, he wasn't moving and we both thought he'd frozen to death. As we approached him, his ear twitched and John said, "He might just make it, let's give him a chance."  I only had Gatorade on hand, so cut open all the packages, mixed powder with warm water and then drenched the alpaca meaning I poured it down his throat. The Gatorade gave his system much needed energy in the form of sugar and!  
Throughout the day I watched him and would visit him to talk, lay hands on him and pray (yes, I am one of those Christians) and breath into his nostrils. I wanted to try and warm him up and breathing into him was the only thing left. I would match my breaths to his...when he breathed in, I would breath out...into my cupped hand surrounding his nostrils. When he breathed out, I would ready myself to breath warmth into him again. At dusk, I left him for the last time and walked back to the house; it was always up to God but now, more than ever.
Friday morning, it was 9 degrees F and when I looked out the window, I didn't see movement. I thought the worst and prepared myself, emotionally and physically, for the work before me. Andy, the young man who did some farm work this summer, came at 9:00 and I brought him up to speed. He headed to the stable to get the tractor while I headed to the alpaca. When I'm approaching animals, I always talk to them, especially if they can't see me. I don't want to frighten need in wasting precious energy in I speak in low, comforting tones..."hey boy, easy boy, how ya doing boy, feeling better?, it's only me"...and so on. It does seem to help. Anyway, he was still alive (!!!!) so I helped him to his feet and stood with him, giving support and crooning in a low voice. Andy came 'round the corner of the barn and looked surprised, "He's alive? Did you get him to his feet?" Yes to both so Andy took over my job while I went to the house for vehicle keys so I could drive to Dr. Anne's, to buy electrolytes, a Vitamin B-12 shot and a (I think) potassium sodium shot which I promptly brought home and gave to 'Paca Rose.  I mixed the electrolytes with warm water , gave it to him to drink, and he did.
~ Merry Christmas ~
{In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I looked longingly at that Vitamin B-12 shot. Very longingly.}

All day Friday, he wandered around his small lot, a little unsteady due to being weak but on his feet. This morning, Saturday, he was down again but when I helped him to his feet, he immediately stood and has been up all day. 

Getting a roughly 200 pound animal to his feet is no small task. Fortunately, he has a long neck and once I get his neck headed the right way, I can heave/roll him to his knees and he lumbers UP. He's eating, drinking, defecating, urinating, eyes are clear, and, while up, seems to be fine but, should he lay down on his side, he cannot get up without help. I'm flummoxed, exhausted and am going to pour a big glass of something alcoholic to drink. Do you think it would hurt to take two Ibuprofen?

Part 2 on Monday.

Blessings ~ Daddy John ~ alpaca ~ Vitamin B-12 ~ electrolytes ~ 800 mg Ibuprofen (for me) ~ Dr. Anne ~ my helpers, the dogs ~ 


  1. Oh my, what a story (both of them!) I sure hope Paca Rose will be alright -- it's sad when an animal is in distress and can't tell us what's wrong.
    Hmmm, I don't know about a big glass of something alcoholic and Ibuprofen, but it would definitely relax you!! I'll be watching out for part 2!
    I'm so glad you stopped by from Sue's -- hope you visit again!

  2. Good gracious, Sandra, I just saw your comment on my blog and came right over (just like we're neighbors, sort of) to see how your boy is coming along. I hope he's getting stronger and is soon fit as can be.
    (I'm very glad you didn't go falling out the door of the vehicle, but I admit I laughed out loud about Sam unloading that hay for you!)

  3. I think I'd take 3 Ibuprofen (but skip the alcohol) after all that! You are amazing! Maybe 'Paca Rose just loves the special attention, lol. Admittedly, I know nothing about Alpacas other than we learned of them when I was in 6th grade geography(?) and studied South & Central America...a very long time ago. Rest well, and I'll pray for you both while looking forward to Monday's post.

  4. Oh my! You work so dang hard, Sandra. I don't think I know anyone who loves animals more than you do.

  5. Sorry I had to laugh at your need to restack your hay because Sam stepped on they up button.

    I lost a llama female during a heat wave here several years ago, my vet new nothing about llama, I went on the internet and found she needed Niacin but after many days of trying to get my vet to contact someone familiar with llamas it was too late, never could get her up. Don't think they handle numerous days over 110 degrees very well. Good luck hope you find an answer.

    If your Ranger is like my Kubota there are safety belts to use to keep you from falling out. Make sure when you are on a hillside your keep your front wheels level. Take care.

  6. should have reread my post before hitting the publish button and corrected my spelling/grammer errors.

  7. I would take four ibuprofen. I of course no nothing about the animals, but I sent a link to this post to my vet daughter just in case she has some inkling.

  8. I ran across an article on alpacas and a disease called mh, or Mycoplasma haemolamae. Could that be the problem?

  9. I will worry all night thinking about your poor little PacaRose out there by herself. Sandra, you are an animal saint. I applaud you for all your hard work on behalf of them. You are totally awesome. I am praying she will get well in Part 2.

  10. OH my goodness, I do hope your Paca Rose somehow turns around, I sure would want you as my 'mom' if I were a creature. Breathing warm air into him had me in tears...sending you and Pace Rose get strong and stop laying down until you can get up on your own prayers, he sounds as tough and determined as you!

  11. Praying for Paca Rose AND for you today - what a lot of hard work it is caring for our animals when they are ill since they can't tell us what is wrong. Hugs!

  12. oh wow quite a story and can relate to all this when we had goats.
    when paca rose was down at first why was she getting dewormed-is not being able to get up a symptom-just wondering--I am hoping part 2 is more good news.
    hugs and blessings Kathyinozarks

  13. this had me so curious about why paca rose couldn't get up so I asked my Larry-who took care of our goat's needs-and he says oh my she is really sick with worms--I hope those worms get out of her and she gets better-

  14. Praying for you and your alpaca. I hate to lose an animal, though I know they have a timely life span too. It's not easy to lose one or worry about one. Praying for energy and discernment for you, and I know you're faithful no matter what the outcome. I'm thankful for your good neighbors, but don't take any unnecessary chances. Eager to hear part 2....

  15. I'm so glad you found him!

  16. So good, you found the alpaca in this winter-situation! So very good!! You give him everything you can, and love, too. I really can imagine, how you feel in these moments. You
    remember, we had an old sheep, she had athrosis in one knee, and we helped her to get up once a day. She was not very heavy, but it was hard enough to get her up.

    I am completely shure, that the combination of IBU and some alcoholics is te optimum in these cases. My husband (a doctor:)! ) encourages me for this, when I am in very hard and havy situations with pain and soul-pain. What do you think about some injection against pain for the Alpaca?

    Lovely dogs- so true and sweet. Lovely Alpaca! God is with you and your animals!

  17. Sandra- that sweet animal is so lucky to have you to care for it. All Gods animals need love and attention-- bless you for being there. Your every day on the farm routine is book worthy-- consider putting it to pen!!

    Did you really break your ankle-- omg bless your heart again!!!


  18. Oh Sandra my heart goes out to you having been in this situation more than once. I almost did speed reading to find out what happened to Pacarose.
    Guess we have to wait a bit longer but she certainly does now look like she could make it. Bless your little heart and the wonderful energy you have been pouring into her!
    Keep going girl - don't give up despite
    the dreadful snow conditions. Amazing!

  19. The animals are cool ... but you are amazing.


  20. This is quite interesting Sandra, but since it's Friday and you haven't finished the story, I'm worried now. Hope you're all right. And the 'paca.

  21. You certainly have had an interesting run with paca! What in the world is going on. Sounds like something got his central nervous system. Is there any chance he's eating something poisonous? Do alpaca's have the same thing that goats have- when they eat frozen clover they get poisoned because the freezing causes the nitrogen in the plant to go off the charts. It all out killed one of our goats, but if he's getting something a little bit each day...?? Just thinking... BTW- I'm "one of those Christians"too. I will be in prayer for Paca, and you too! You work SO hard. How I wish I could sit and talk with you over tea/coffee. You're a neat person! Blessings~Patrice

  22. Sarah, the alpaca is just fine but a trifle fat; think that's his problem. Mine too, come to think of it.

    Quinn, Sam is the ultimate helper.

    Lee, I took one 800mg tablet; enough to knock me out for the night.

    Karen, some days I love them more/less than others -grin.

    TL, the Ranger has independent wheel suspension but I still get antsy on uneven ground. Never worry about spelling errors, I'm not offended because I know how hard you work.

    Gretchen, thank you and think he was/is FAT. He's doing well now, getting up on his own, etc.

    Monkeywrangler, I think he needed de-worming and was fat; he's been de-wormed and is still fat but getting up on his own now.

    Marsha, he's doing all right now; I did what I could and God did the rest.

    Lynn, you are so sweet! He's doing fine; God willing, it'll continue and he'll be fine the rest of winter.

    Jill, your prayers are always greatly appreciated; thank you!

    Kathy, he's doing fine, it was a combination of needing to be de-wormed and he's fat.

    Debbie, we're all terminal but that doesn't make it any easier.

    Vicki, he seems to be fine but fat -grin-. Hope you're having better weather than I'm having...snow, sleet, ice, COLD.

    Dori, if you have phenylbutal, bute for short, that can be given to animals for pain, arthritis. It's not supposed to be given to "food" animals but Carly is a pet.

    Vicki, yes, did break my ankle but it healed nicely, thank God.

    Suziqu, 'Paca is fine, I'm fine and it's another ending to another day full of "life on the farm".

    Glenda, thank you, God lets me do the work He has set before me.

    Lisa, all are well now; it's been a long haul.

    Patrice, he needed de-worming and he was fat; he was de-wormed but can't do anything about the fat part. it's too cold for a diet.


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