When I was born, I think my father was watching a Philadelphia Flyers game in a waiting room. I guess waiting can take its toll on an individual. Lord knows, we’ve been waiting for an alpaca baby for weeks. We were unclear whether she was, in fact, pregnant for quite a while. Our animals are well fed at Orchard House, and I was concerned maybe she was just morphing into a larger-than-life alpaca because of some undiagnosed grain addiction. But now, it’s clear she’s pregnant. And a baby is imminent.
I become frantic when I know babies are imminent. Never having been at the birth of a human, I can only imagine the spectacle I would be. At the birth of a lamb, I require someone to slap me back to reality with the firm hand of a stoic Scarlett O’Hara. I’ve made enough “excited” phone calls to veterinary offices that I can now feel eyes rolling on the other end of the line. But I can take the perceived criticism, as I don’t mess with the birthing process. If you’ve taken the time to gestate something, I’ll take the time to see it has every chance of living.
The average alpaca gestation period is 355 days. Humans are born quicker. Unfortunately, there’s no great calculator for predicting an alpaca birth as they can come thirty days earlier or later. And since I know nothing about birthing camelids, we sit and wait. Every morning I open the barn door with some level of anticipation, both happy and disappointed whenI don’t see a cria. Disappointed because we’re waiting for this little monster to appear. Happy also, because I don’t have to drop everything I’m doing, make a frantic call to the vet, and know that someone’s eyes are rolling on the other end.
So, we wait. Alpaca are nice enough to have their babies in the morning. I appreciate this kindness, as I don’t have to keep a watchful eye all day and night. I have the time to tend the other babies of the farm, as well as the adults who sometimes demand more attention.
At Orchard House,the barnyard currently houses 8 llama, 4 alpaca, 6 goats, 8 sheep, 3 donkeys, 2 pigs, 18 chickens, 6 guineas, 4 ducks, 2 peacocks, and 4 rabbits. Lord help us, let me add that up again. 65 animals! In the end, I guess, what’s one more? If people can manage 18 children, I can handle workings of this farm. It may get tiring some days, but fiddle-dee-dee! After all, tomorrow is another day!