Finding your alpaca rhythm

EPISODE NOTES

Find a rhythm that suits you and your alpacas. There are the occasional sprints such as shearing, birthing or shows, but mostly it is long-distance pace. I was going to say marathon but it sounds too much like hard work.

For most of us, most of the time, we have a steady pace, a rhythm where we can maintain that regular pace. Alpacas like it too. Though they also enjoy the occasional surprise – just look at their eyes, their body language, and their jumping and dodging and weaving like alpacas do, when you put them into a new field.

Rhythm and pace, alpaca style – what does it look like? What does it feel like? If you watch a group of alpacas–and you know you should, regularly–the pace of movement is steady and usually economical. There’s a reason for everything, even when it looks aimless. They’re watching all the time – watching you, watching each other, watching the birds, the weather. And they process all of that and make their choices.

What about you? Are you economical but intentional?

We’re living in challenging times. And I think a time of flux. It hasn’t yet been determined what next year will be like. The big thing of COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. We could yet have a challenging winter.

The even bigger thing of the climate crisis has certainly not gone away. Droughts, floods, wildfires. Hay, and pellet food, and many of the supplies we’ve taken for granted could suddenly shift to a new norm of being less available.

So how do we respond? My suggestion is we find a rhythm, a rhythm that allows for the occasional sprint, but a rhythm that we can live with that helps us thrive, and that’s also going to be good for our alpacas. And certainly, with COP26 taking place in Glasgow at the moment, we can make our own contribution to that, and need to.

So perhaps we need to be thinking, how does what I do with the alpacas, how does that affect things? What can we do that will make things better? Fewer journeys to collect food, for example. Back to my planning and other factors that will reduce our impact on the environment and on the climate.

There are things that we need to be asking questions about. Let’s not panic. Let’s find a rhythm. We do need to act, and we do need to act yesterday in fact, but at least today. And plan for tomorrow – what will we do differently? Let’s make our contribution.

Take care. And if you can, go spend some time with an alpaca.

Finding your alpaca rhythm
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[00:00:00] This is the alpaca podcast, for all things alpaca. If you're an owner a soon-to-be-owner, a want-to-be-owner, or are just alpaca mad or love the fleece - welcome to the alpaca tribe. I'm Steve Heatherington.

[00:00:26] Hi. Welcome, welcome, welcome, and welcome to the podcast for alpaca people. So good to see you again. So do you like sprinting or marathons? It sounds like one of those speed dating questions or when you meet somebody at parties. Hey, do you remember when we used to go to parties? Anyway... , so do you like sprinting or marathons?

[00:00:48] And I was meaning really for you rather than as a spectator. Mostly with alpacas, our activity is longer-term and more like a marathon. I don't like the sound of marathons and it's that fabled wall at about 18 miles. Why would you do that to yourself? And yet people do. So let's adjust the metaphor slightly and maybe compare long distance rhythm to a sprint.

[00:01:18] Shearing is busy. Birthing time can be busy. Showtime is busy. If you're involved in any of those things, you know, about bursts and sprints. But for most of us, most of the time, we have a steady pace, a rhythm where we can maintain that regular pace. Alpacas like it .Though they also enjoy the occasional surprise.

[00:01:43] Just look at their eyes, their body language, and their jumping and dodging and weaving like alpacas do, when you put them into a new field. Generally, a regular pace helps us too. We know what we're doing. We know what to expect. And we gave up on having holidays a long time ago. So maybe that last one is just me, but some of you know what I'm talking about. Rhythm and pace, alpaca style.

[00:02:13] What does it look like? What does it feel like? If you watch a group of alpacas -and you know, you should, regularly, -the pace of movement is steady and usually economical. There's a reason for everything. Even when it looks aimless. They're watching all the time, watching you, watching each other, watching the birds, the weather. And they process all of that and make their choices.

[00:02:43] What about you? Are you economical but intentional? I once took ages filling up a field hay feeder, and then the weather changed and it poured down. So the alpacas stayed sheltered in the stable, or at the edge of the field, under the trees, -it's always handy to have a shelter belt planting by the way. Anyway, was it a waste?

[00:03:08] Well, a bit. The hay got wet due to the horizontal rain. The alpacas would have been better off with hay in the stable, encouraging them both to stay in and providing for them while they were in there. They ate it all eventually. I guess it wasn't wasted, but it wasn't necessarily the best. If I'd taken more notice- I now mostly do-

[00:03:33] I will wait to put the outdoor hay out and make slight adjustments to the morning and evening feeds depending on the weather. So rhythms, rhythms are determined by what, where and how. What you need to do, where it has to be done and how you will accomplish it. You can use the tractor or a quad, or is it just going to go over your shoulder. What distance and quantity needs to be taken into account. Planning, aids all of this, that rhythm.

[00:04:07] Have you got supplies in hand? I just love a full hay store. Do you know how long a hay bale will last? And if that changes through the year? Do you know how many bags of feed you use in a week, or a month? And when you next need to order or collect? We get used to the next day delivery, but even that is starting to slide at the moment. We're living in challenging times.

[00:04:38] And I think a time of flux. It hasn't yet been determined. What next year will be like the big thing of COVID-19 hasn't gone away yet. We could yet have a challenging winter. The even bigger thing of the climate crisis has certainly not gone away. Droughts, floods, wildfires. Hay, and pellet food, and many of the supplies we've taken for granted could suddenly shift to a new norm of being less available. So how do we respond?

[00:05:11] My suggestion is we find a rhythm, a rhythm that allows for the occasional sprint, but a rhythm that we can live with that helps us thrive. And that's also going to be good for our alpacas. And certainly with the COP26 taking place in Glasgow at the moment, all the world leaders gathering all the, all the stuff that needs to be thought about and planned for and adjusted and.

[00:05:40] And we can make our own contribution to that, and need to. So perhaps we need to be thinking, how does what I do with the alpacas, how does that affect? What can we do that will make things better? Less journeys to collect food, for example. Back to my planning and, and other factors that will reduce our impact on the environment and on the climate.

[00:06:04] Generally, I think we, we add things for the environment. Certainly the wilding that's gone on in the valley here with the alpacas. The grazing that they do, they're not heavy animals either in terms of physical, in terms of compacting the ground. But also they're not heavy grazers. So the amount that they consume and the variety of things they consume means that it actually generally encourages growth and has encouraged more wildlife

[00:06:35] in fact. So there are things that we can do. There are things that we need to be asking questions about. Let's not panic. Let's find a rhythm. We do need to act, and we do need to act yesterday in fact, but at least today, and plan for tomorrow, what will we do differently? Let's make our contribution -public service announcement over.

[00:06:57] So let's give you an update on what's been happening in the valley. Here's the valley report.

[00:07:06] Well, we've had some colder weather. The first grass frosts have been this week. Uh, the alpacas coped alright. They wandered a bit further. They were standing around a bit more. What is going on here? Uh, it's a shift. That's another indicator of where we're going. But we do have sunny spells and we've had some lovely sunny spells and they've loved being in the sun.

[00:07:31] It's interesting, the boys because of the valley shape and the fact that they've got access to the top of the hill, uh, on the other side of the valley, from the house, they will go up and they will stand and they will graze in the sun. So they get the benefit of the early morning. The girls have to wait for a bit longer,

[00:07:48] cause it's got to come down that slope and into the middle of the valley to where they hang about. But sunny spells, they're enjoying those and have a little crash out and a little bit of sunbathe. They've got to make the most of it, half our holidays. There you go. That helps our rhythm as well. Take a little break that benefits you, when you can.

[00:08:08] Sonny spells. Squirrels. I have noticed some squirrels burying supplies for later. Uh, it was quite fun watching that. I think I've got a little video clip. Let me find that. I'll put that in the episode notes for you to have a look at. And this was, I was looking, just check what was going on using the trail camera and caught one that was very active in, and it's really fun watching the way they push the ground down to bury

[00:08:35] what they've just discovered. Wildfowl - they're still busy on the lake. Less crowds of ducks, but they're still around and occasional Cormorant visit still getting that. Brambles -brambles are becoming, I told you, brambles are becoming more of an issue and are getting tangled in the fleece, particularly of the youngsters. And there's a few kind of, Ooh, can't really deal with it in the field.

[00:09:03] Oh, it's so difficult. So always carry gloves and be ready to deal with those things at feeding time, certainly. But if you have to in the field too. Sue had to disentangle a really long branch that one of them was dragging around in the field the other day. And I had to take some out yesterday.

[00:09:20] So brambles- keep an eye on those. We've also had the clocks change. So our hour has shifted and it's going to be six months till that happens again. I always feel a bit sad. I like it when the clocks change in the spring, I don't like it quite so much when they change this time of year, there we go. So that will be changing again in the spring for the UK.

[00:09:42] Adjust that comment for the season for wherever you live. The cria seem to be gathering in gangs, little gangs of cria at the moment. And then roaming looking for mischief to get into, uh, in the, the melee of grabbing the food. They'll clear up the crumbs afterwards, but when all the adults are down there, they tend to kind of keep their distance and they'll play around further away.

[00:10:07] Not all of them, some of the get in for the food, but others. They'll just play. There was a lovely little group of them having a collective, wrestle certainly, if it wasn't a fight, but there was was about four of them all involved. So again, I'll share that, that picture for you in the episode notes or on the website, the website is alpacatribe.com

[00:10:27] And while you're there, why not send me a message? And they were practicing, practicing, doing the escaping from imaginary they do little bursts and sprints. They do, they do sprints. And they were practicing escaping from imaginary predators. Or maybe they would just try to escape from me. I'm not quite sure. Their fleece is getting longer and looking really nice.

[00:10:52] I have to keep updating who is, who. Oh now, which one are you and all your, your white one. Okay. So you're Tabitha. And you've got the little brown splodge on your nose, so you're Miurig. But who are you? This one. Oh, I think you're S I, are you Steph? I think you're Steph. And then you got to kind of look and they'll come over and they'll have a little talk with me, but I'm struggling with some of them to go, or you got to have them all together,

[00:11:14] then I can work out who's who, if I just see one of them on their own, I'm not always confident that I've settled on the right one. One of those delights. They're ranging wider, they're going further afield to get some of the good grass that's still there and up into the trees.Sue discovered them over right down the far end of the valley.

[00:11:35] And they were having a lovely time sort of grazing down there, which is great. It's also getting darker earlier in the afternoon. So then you have to change your rhythm so that you're remembering to feed them earlier. Sometimes I get my head down and I'm working on the computer and I suddenly discover how late it is and how much I'm running out of light.

[00:11:52] So I have to kind of whizz round and, and throw the food at them. That's not ideal. So I'm adjusting my mental model, but also adjusting and adding in a regular alarm, which will go off in time to get me out there feeding at sensible times when it's still light. The rhythm of work. I'm not sure there's anything else outstanding to report in terms of the girls or the boys they're just ticking along nicely and enjoying grazing while they still can, while the grass is still there and while it's still growing.

[00:12:27] So thanks for being here. Take care. And if you can go spend some time with an alpaca.

[00:12:49] This is the alpaca tribe and I'm Steve Heatherington.

[00:12:59] Have a great day.

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