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Friday, January 4, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

Friday, March 11, 2011 started pretty much the same as any other Friday. Michael and I were at work and Michael just happened to me sitting in my office when his phone rang. I watched his expression trying to determine whether the caller was imparting good news or bad. I finally decided that it must not be all bad because he looked kind of excited, but it must not be all good either because he also looked sort of confused and uncertain. As I sat there watching him I heard him say “Let me talk to her and I will call you back.” Now it was my turn to be confused and uncertain. As the parent of six kids over the age of 16, a phone call ending like that could mean a lot of things…not all of them good!
Fortunately, this one had nothing to do with the kids. It was our vet calling to ask for our help. It turns out that one of her other clients had a cria that had been born early the day before and the mother was totally and brutally rejecting him. Any time the poor little guy got anywhere near her she would try to cush on him. The owner had tried everything to get her to accept him, but to no avail so she was giving him goat colostrum to try to keep his strength up. Finally, he got to a point where the vet deemed it necessary to do a plasma transfusion. It was right then that we should have known that this little guy was going to be different because for the first time in her career, she was unable to get the entire transfusion in him. Strangely enough, only about half of it would fit and he weighed in at 19.1 pounds! Thankfully, the half of a transfusion was enough to give him the boost he needed, but it would only last for a little while so he needed to be bottle fed…a lot…and often…around the clock…for months and the owner was not in a position to be able to take on that kind of commitment. She made the decision to give the cria away, not because she didn’t want him; because she knew what he needed and that she couldn’t provide it…and so we got the call. Why us? I have no idea, but we have been thankful every day since that we were chosen.
We drove down to pick him up that afternoon right after work. It was love at first sight. He was so precious! The owner took us into her home and explained the processes that she had been using to get him to eat, but she was really worried because he wasn’t taking in very much. She made him a bottle of goats’ milk and warmed it just right. We took the bottle out into the pasture and he came running. He was definitely interested in the bottle, but as soon as he started nursing on it he would hear or see his mother and run to her hoping for the real thing. Michael and I both felt that once we got him to our farm, where this mother was not around to give him false hope, he would probably take to the bottle just fine. The owner agreed, but I could tell it was breaking her heart to let the little guy go. We promised to keep her up to date on his progress, send pictures, and let her come see him any time she wanted to. Thirty minutes later we left her farm with a precious 18 hour old cria, his blood card so that we could get his registration started, LOADS of goat milk, the nipple from the bottle that he had been using, the cria coat the he had been wearing, and the prayers of his previous owner.
The ride home was an experience that we will not soon forget. We were driving a KIA Sportage and had decided that it might be best to let the cria lay in the back on some blankets for the ride. That lasted until we got almost to the end of the driveway before he was up, pacing back and forth, and constantly humming. We were beginning to think that we were just going to have to grin and bear it until we could get him home when the funniest thing happened. We had gotten on the interstate and we started to notice that every time we went past an eighteen wheeler on the side he was looking out of, he would stop humming and pacing to watch the truck go all of the way by; as soon as the truck was out of sight, the pacing and humming would start back. Who would have thunk it? Little boy alpacas like big trucks too!
Once we got him home and settled we made him a bottle of goat’s milk and he fell into a routine of taking two or three ounces every couple of hours. Soon he was taking six or eight ounces at a time, but his poop was pure white water. At this point we started adding a few ccs of Caro syrup to his bottles and giving him a little probios here and there. We also started putting full fat yogurt in his milk a couple of times a day to try to replace some of the cultures that he was losing with the diarrhea and goat’s milk.
On day 5 the goat’s milk that we had was beginning to get low. We had to decide whether to try to find a place to get more goats’ milk or to try regular whole milk. We called our vet and she suggested that we go ahead and go with the whole milk, but to transition him to it gradually so that we might avoid messing his little stomach up again. By the time the transition to whole milk was complete on day 18, he was taking 10 to 12 ounces at a time. At this point he was at about 24 pounds which isn’t bad, but it isn’t really that good either. Normal weight gain for a cria is .5 pounds a day and our little guy had only gained 5 pounds in 18 days. In order to put more weight on him we started putting as much as 10 ccs of full fat yogurt in every bottle and we started offering him straight Mazuri Ultimate grain. Let’s just say that we had hit on the winning combination! His weight at the end of month 2 was 32.8 pounds, month 3 was 44 pounds, and by the time he hit 5 months of age our little boy was up to a strong, healthy 61 pounds.
It is really amazing to look out the window and see this beautiful creature grazing peacefully; happy and content with himself and his home and remember the little guy who was rejected by his mother, but is so loved today by everyone who knows him.

-Melissa Hall
The End