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January 20, 2013

By: Lynn McClurg, Morning Sky Farm

I Remember "Her"...

 

It’s been a year now since we lost Paulettha, and we are constantly reminded to never underestimate the value of a challenging alpaca…

6Peruvian Paulettha 6140 was one of those alpacas that everyone who encountered her will never forget. No matter who came to the farm, she always made a very memorable and lasting impression – not necessarily in a good way. She was one of our two original alpaca purchases, and we came to realize over time that she was also one of those noteworthy foundation females who deserved to be treasured in a breeding program equally as much as some males.

Paulettha put us on a fast track crash course of learning the tricks of new alpaca ownership, forcing us to some days rise and conquer, and some days to crash and burn! From the day that she arrived at our farm, it was very evident that she was the “alpha” female of our herd, and the protector of absolutely everyone – old or young, related or not, especially the crias.

Her first cria arrived in our first two months of alpaca ownership, and she surprised us by delivering three weeks earlier than the due date that we were given, before dawn on a cool November 1st, making us scramble to remember what we needed to do. Because she was so protective, she always made it difficult to handle her crias – repeatedly circling us to get them back, nipping at our legs, and always spitting. While other moms would quietly walk to the scale with their crias, we had to learn stealth style methods of stealing hers away in order to perform basic health tasks on her crias, wearing a shower cap and an extra shirt as standard equipment. Except for the first, Paulettha delivered each subsequent cria right on day 335, like clockwork, and always easily – valuable traits.

During our first year, when a shearer from the seller’s farm came out for our first shearing, Bob pointed to the llama who had accompanied the two pregnant Peruvian imports who were our original purchases. Bob asked, “Do you remember Omar?”. With a higher pitched tone and with an affectionate lilt to his voice, the shearer smiled and said, “Omar - awww, you have Omar”. When it was time to shear Paulettha, Bob again checked the shearer’s recollection by asking “Do you remember this one?” The look on the shearer’s face became serious, his voiced dropping to almost a growl as he said “Ohhhh, I remember HER!”

Paulettha was not one of those females who would fall into the category of the frequently mentioned “huggable investment”. Instead, she was the one of whom we would suggest to visitors that “you may want to stay a bit back from that one.” Although we did not know it at the time of her purchase, we quickly learned that she trusted no one, and had a constant propensity not just for spitting, but for covering anyone with an enormous amount of it – at any time and for any or no reason. In my constant quest to ‘be her friend’, Bob would always say “Don’t look at her, don’t look at her, DON’T LOOK AT HER” – SPLAT! Having completed a Camelidynamics seminar, I was confident that I could halter train Paulettha, even at age seven. With several fast and powerful poofs, however, she filled both of my eyes and ears with smelly green stuff, just seconds before a farmer friend of ours came through the barn door. He never again called me a “city girl” (even though I never was one).

During the time that Paulettha was in our lives, she gave us five strong, beautiful daughters who have given us nine girls and two boys, including fleece and halter winners. That’s fourteen girls and two boys coming down the line just from Paulettha. The girls are easy birthers, some yield five pound fleece blankets, and all but one have lovely temperaments. That’s value, and a wonderful foundation to build upon.

During the last year or so of her life, I guess that I did become her friend, as I would sit next to Paulettha, stroke her head and neck, and talk to her on a daily basis without any rebuttal. With a good deal of cooperation, Bob would administer his homemade “spinapp”, a combination of blended spinach and applesauce to keep her from becoming anemic, as well as Fibrevive. None of the tests ever showed that anything was amiss, but, as an older import, she never returned to her normal state of fully good health. We had bought half interest in her repeatedly perfect mate in anticipation of breeding her for another beautiful offspring, but it was not meant to be.

Never disregard a challenging alpaca; you may not realize what he or she is giving back to you. Paulettha, in her own way, taught us and gave us alot. When one of our granddaughters was little, she would say over and over, “I love Pauledda”. We loved – and miss - Paulettha, too. We’ll always remember HER…



This article appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of PAOBA's official newsletter, The Planet, of which Lynn served as the coordinator.