Thursday, July 31, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - 5th Week of July 2014

The great thing about running a farm is that every day is filled with the unexpected.

Sunny, our new baby alpaca did not consume her first meal of mother’s milk in time to receive the antibodies that are necessary to keep her healthy.   She was not gaining weight.   We had only one choice - a transfusion of alpaca plasma containing IgG (about $150).     We drove to Tufts Veterinary School and picked up 500cc of plasma.   There are two ways to transfuse a baby alpaca - jugular vein IV or peritoneal infusion.   Inserting an IV in a baby alpaca is like wrestling an alligator.  We chose the peritoneal approach which required shaving her belly, a bit of anesthetic, and a quick puncture to insert a blunt tube for infusion.   After 10 minutes of infusion she was back to the paddock.   Since the infusion, she has gained weight, had boundless energy and is on her way to becoming a healthy adult alpaca.   Here are before and after pictures, illustrating the use of our kitchen as an operating room.

Over the weekend, I put on my bee suit to help my wife and daughter inspect the hives and move heavy honey filled frames.   As I walked past the cider house I noticed a grey guinea fowl that had disappeared in the forest about a month ago.  We were convinced that a coyote had taken her.   Behind her were 17 babies that she successfully raised in the forest and now was leading back to the coop.   Other guineas in the flock do not seem to recognize their own young species and tend to harass babies, sometimes to the point of killing them.  I ran to the hives and asked for my daughter’s help.   Together we wrangled all 17 babies into a large farming bucket and placed them in a 100 degree F brooder where they ate, drank, and warmed up after their travel through wet grass.    Today they are happy and healthy and we’ll move them to one of the mini-coops on August 16.   Mom is a little disturbed that we took her babies away, but she’s returned to the coop and settled in with the other guineas.    We still have two nests in the forest and if they are successful, we’ll have over 100 guineas on the farm.     We’ve already put up notices at local farm stands offering guinea chicks for sale.

All of this guinea mania required a bit of new construction.    I built another mini coop in the larger coop, so now we have 5 areas for poultry.

brooder - 3 levels, can hold 100 chicks
mini-coop #1 - can hold 5 “teenagers”
mini-coop #2 - can hold 10 “pre-teens”
coop side #1 - can hold 25 adults
coop side #2 - can hold 25 adults

Today we have 17 chicks, 3 teens, 9 pre-teens, and 27 adults.   We’re going to run out of space if they forest nests are successful.

The hoop house continues to produce massive quantities of cucumbers, tomatoes, chard, squash, and eggplant.   One of my favorite vegetables is Japanese pumpkin (Kabocha) and I’ll harvest 25 pounds of it this weekend.

All is well on the farm as Fall approaches.   The ducks are eating worms in the compost pile and the joyful chaos continues.

1 comment:

Claudia said...

Was loosing weight the only indication that the alpaca did not get the antibodies from her mom?