Lessons from the pandemic and weaning

A year on and everybody seems to be reflecting on a year of pandemic. This seems to be both a good reason to do so and also to avoid it. I decided though that I would be reflective too.

What is it that we’ve learned from the pandemic with a Valley full of alpacas? 

One of the things I’ve learned is to just keep going. Concentrate on the next thing. Not focusing too much on the possibilities and the things that may or may not happen. But to just keep the structure, and the rhythm and the routine.

In the early stages, I wasn’t really mentioning the pandemic much. Well, my podcast was about alpacas not about the pandemic.  

I think I thought it was going to be a few weeks. And it just went on and on. It kept changing and kept going longer. And then it was back again. And it’s just been a challenge really for everybody, in so many different ways. 

The other thing I’ve learnt is that there’s another day to come – that whatever today has been, there is another day.

The alpacas have enjoyed the space that it’s allowed them because we haven’t had visitors coming to the Valley, then the gates have been closed over the road and they’ve just been able to be a lot freer about where they could wander. 

Weaning time again – starting with two boys who have a new home to go to soon. Plan and prepare – open/close gates as appropriate – and remember that young alpacas can run very fast!

Spring is also advancing very quickly – at least today!


Hi, Steve here and welcome to the alpaca tribe the podcast for alpaca people. Well, it's a year on, from the start of the pandemic and all the lockdowns. And people are doing lots of retrospectives really, they are doing reflections on the year gone and what was happening then, etc etc. And I suppose that's a good reason to do that. Or it's a good reason not to do that. So. Anyway, I've decided to do some reflections. What is it that we've learned from the pandemic with a Valley full of alpacas? One of the things I think is that I've learned to just keep going. Concentrate on the next thing. Not focusing too much on the possibilities and the things that may or may not happen. But to just keep the structure, and the rhythm and the routine. And how helpful that is to give focus, and to also give you a sense of purpose, I suppose. There are so many things that were just unknown. And in the early stages,sort of a year back, I wasn't really mentioning the pandemic much. Well, my podcast was about alpaca is not about pandemic. I think, I thought it was going to be a few weeks. And it just went on and on. It kept changing and kept going longer. And then it was back again. And it's just been a challenge really for everybody, in so many different ways. So that's one thing just keeping going. There's another day to come. That's the other thing I've learnt is that there's another day to come that whatever today has had. There is another day. And the alpacas have enjoyed the space that it's allowed them, because we haven't had people coming, visitors coming to the Valley, then the gates have been closed over the road and they've just been able to be a lot more free about where they could wander. And that's been great. Well, that's the females anyway. The boys have had the run of the hillside. And that's just normal for them. They have spread out more. They've been really quite relaxed. And spread out. Physically spread out. And prepared to not just bunch up as part of the herd. But to have a bit more space. And to be a bit more spread out, along an area. Still not far from each other, but a bit more spread out. That's one of the things that struck me. Thinking about the future. What kind of future is it that we want? I think coronavirus or COVID 19 is going to be around, longer than we think. And we're going to have to adjust to things and they are talking about carrying on wearing masks and social distancing. Or. Just distancing. It's not very social. So keeping a safe distance. Becoming more aware of the possibilities of how, what we do can affect other people. When we do have freedoms, we don't take them for granted. But also, we recognize the things that are important. People are important. Relationships are important. The contact. that we've missed I think I could be a bit of a hermit, if I didn't try too hard I probably just tip over into that very nicely. Actually that's okay, but it's not fully me. I do need to be connecting with people. And so we've all learned how to zoom and, and, and. But there will be, time for gathering again. And there's a bit of anxiety about that,isn't there? Do you feel that? That, here we are, things are changing, we're going into the future and, there's a little bit of anxiety about what it might mean. I've been happier when we haven't been able to see people cause that's just how it's been. But now there's the possibility starting to emerge in the coming weeks and months, of being able to interact with people again. I'm just feeling a little bit anxious about that. Which is odd. But understandable. Uh, yeah, so we're just gonna have to walk through that. Step by step day by day. Decision by decision. So that's the kind of the rhythm of the pandemic. That you don't make too many far future plans. And you take each day as it comes and recognize that you change, through different days. Each day can be very different. Some days are a good day. Some days are a real struggle. And sometimes you can see why, and sometimes it's just how it is. But the regular routine I've really appreciated the regular routine of caring for the alpacas, it's helped. Certainly helped me. We've just been weaning some of our alpacas. Some of the cria they've got a new home to go to. And as soon as we're able to, with the lockdown situation, we're going to be moving them on. So they'd been separated off, they've been been weaned. You always get this double thing going on with the mums. It's What are you doing? Where's my baby gone? But also there's a sense of relief- oh, thank goodness for that. I And particularly, I remember the year which I've mentioned before, I put all of the mums in the stable, closed all the shutters, so they couldn't see. And then we tried to move the youngsters as a group and it was, it was hard work. We got there in the end. And we moved them in. And then as I released the mums, they came out of the stable and they looked at me, accusingly, and then they went all around near the stable and then the field around the stable. And then, and then they run down to the field at the end. Where they couldn't see. From the stable, they couldn't see that field in its entirety. So they, they ran down there looking for the babies. And of course they weren't there. And then they came back. Slightly accusingly still, looking at me, but then also they kind of what you mean. They've gone. Oh, okay. And they just, as a group, creashed out in the sun, and sunbathed. And there was a collective sigh. Oh, thank goodness for that. I thought that day was never going to come. So there's a reluctance, but there's also a welcoming of the weaning. And, you know, again, you can understand that and we can relate to it, I guess, as well. So that's been something we've done. Just doing the boys first. The two of them and we have to do the girls but some of them are still really small. I don't know what it is through the winter. It didn't seem to me to be a really hard winter. But it seems to have taken a long time for some of the little ones to, to kind of grow on. And, they've all got a lot of fleece at the moment. Oh, the difference it makes having a few dry days. They fluff up, they clean up. And everyone is a bit more relaxed and the grass is growing. And it makes your heart glad, to have a bit of sun for a while. So that was really nice. The last few days have been good. And spring is definitely advancing on. The Canada Geese are doing okay, with the alpacas, and vice versa. They, they seem to wander into the field down again. And they, they just accepting of each other. And they're becoming a bit more accepting of us as well. Which is good. So that's, the main thing, because, oh, they just go on and on chunter, chunter, chunter, chunter, to each other. So that's the canada geese, rather than the alpacas, though the alpacas talk to each other as well. We've also had the Goosanders in again. We had five in today two males and three females. And they're very skittish though. They disappeared quickly once I started doing things and they thought, I'm not sure what's going on here, we're going to have to leave. So they flew off up the Valley and away. No doubt they'll be back tomorrow. The magpies are busy building a nest. There's also some Jays around. I thought it was just going to be magpies, but we have got the Jays around as well. And the Robins zipping in and out, picking up the little crumbs left by the alpacas. So spring's definitely advancing. So with the weaning, I think it's, not as bad as you think it might be. And just needs a bit of planning. A bit of preparation. And you do need to know that young alpacas can run very fast. You got to contain them and control the situation. Plan ahead, make sure everything's in place and the appropriate gates are closed, or open, or whatever's needed. And just take your time. And if, if they splinter and breakup which they did, then you just bring them back together, again, work with them as a larger group until you can do the separation that needs to be done. So in fact, they took themselves off the field. I was a little bit slow getting out with breakfast and they took themselves up the field, because it was bright and sunny and warm. So by the time I got up there, they were all settled. So we were able to, to kind of keep the two back that we wanted and, and gradually let all of the others out and it worked okay. There's always things to learn, but it worked okay. So contain them and plan ahead. And be patient. Take things in small steps, wherever you can. That's the weaning and there's more to come, but that was the weaning of the boys. it was a strange this year, because last year's cria, from last summer, they had a different grouping and we only had the two males and then there's seven females. So that was unusual for us. And it did seem to settle. But it was a different dynamic, which is quite interesting. And I keep looking at them sometimes, just because I'm used to having so many boys around, that some of the girls, I keep thinking of them as boys, but they're not. We've trimmed up around eyes and things ready, so they can actually see what's going on a bit more. It's just some of them, it just, it just keeps growing. So we'll obviously clear all that off when we do the shearing. So that's also, in my mind, we need to start thinking about making sure we've got the combs and the cutters. And the machine's all set and ready and all the ropes and the bits and pieces are in place and bags, have we got enough bags of the right sizes? And have we got the labels sorted? Let's do that all in plenty time, in advance. And then that will just run like clockwork. As always. There's always something that is not quite to plan. But you do all the preparation and it makes things run a lot smoother. And we just take our time because it's us doing our own, it's a bit easier. We can decide what we do and how quickly we do it. We don't have to kind of rush it. The things we can get plenty of time for, for the animals. Give them a good checking over. Nona is not doing quite so well. The one with the bad foot. Um, Hmm. Don't know what's going on really. So she'd been laying down a bit more. It, might've just been sun bathing but... There's a little bit of concern we're just keeping a closer eye on her. One of the cria that we've separated off is her son. So hopefully that will take some of the pressure off her. And that will make things a bit easier. We will keep an eye on her. Be patient take small steps. Plan and prepare. All the usual things come into play. So as we're moving forward into Spring, there's a few things still need to be done, and I've noticed that the nettles are starting to grow. So I need to get in there and keep them down, keep them held back. And the shoots, the side shoots of the brambles are just starting to fire off as well, so we need to keep that under control and it's all these little bits of, you can keep it under control, right from the start, then it makes life easier. So that's, that's the plan. We shall see. Whether it lasts long enough. But there we go. So that is the week we've been having. And the good weather it's going to be variable and cool down again. But. Spring hasn't fully arrived, but if you were going to say, there's a particular day when spring has arrived, it would have been today. Absolutely gorgeous. And finally got a bit too hot. I was, I had too many layers. And the sun was just really, really hot. No, it's welcome. It's nice. And that will help things open up and, and grow on, which is what we want. So there we go. Thanks for being here. Really appreciate your presence and your being here. So, if you like what you hearing ,do remember to follow us. And if you'd like to leave a review, that would be welcome. We shall see you again next time. Take care. And if you can go spend some time with an alpaca. Bye for now.

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