Posts Tagged ‘spring’

It is breeding season at the ranch. As we select the ladies to breed the guys line up at the pen gate hoping they get the opportunity to enhance the herd with their genetics. At Missouri Alpacas we breed for quality grey fiber which means we try to choose a dam and sire that will have the best possible chance of producing grey crias (baby alpacas).

When you introduce a male to a female alpaca she will either cush, letting the male know she is ready to breed, or she will run, kick and spit. The latter is a definite “I don’t want to have anything to do with you!” Depending on the time of day it is, you could see a frustrated male covered in green spit. Not a pretty sight.

We use a blood test to check our females for pregnancy; some ranches use a “spit test”. A pregnant female will “spit off” the male and not allow him to breed her. Not completely accurate but a good indication that a cria is on its way. Spit is a defense mechanism for the alpaca and signals that something is happening they do not agree with.

So when someone asks me “Do alpacas spit?” I say “Yes, but not usually at people.” An alpaca will spit at another alpaca for various reasons other than breeding: you are too close to their feed bucket, in their space or they just have a bad attitude right now. Most of the time if I get spit on it is because I am in the cross fire of the event. Once I opened the side barn door just in time to get the effect of one alpaca mad at another alpaca – wrong place at the wrong time.

Now don’t get me wrong, if I make an alpaca mad, by trying to get it to do something it does not want to do, I could get spit on. I have one alpaca that will wait until I am finished with the chore (usually trimming nails) then will turn around and try to spit at me after I take the halter off. I know the deal so I try to stay out of the way. I have to give her credit for her effort. She definitely tries.


We have a sign hanging in the barn, Spit Happens, because sometimes it just does.


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I heard on the radio that Missouri has set a record for the number of warm days in March. It has been unseasonably warm this month. March not only came in like a lion, with high winds, but also ferociously with high temperatures. By the end of the month we are to see temps in the high 80s!

As the usual migration of birds began, I knew that spring was on its way. The Canadian geese could be seen flying overhead in their massive V formations; the robins were back looking for worms in the lawns; the finches, both yellow and purple were at the feeder; the martins were gathering in their martin houses and of course the blue birds had begun nesting. The Juncos were still hanging around so I knew winter wasn’t officially over; not before they leave anyway.

Redbud tree in bloom

One good rain and the trees started to bud. In Missouri the first to bloom are the redbud trees. Seeing their reddish-purple flowers dot the woods is a sure sign spring is here. Time to get those gardens tilled and shrubs pruned in anticipation of warmer days. We don’t put in the vegetables until after the dogwood blooms. March is famous for another frost or even a mild snow. Many an anxious gardener has had to replant after a freeze killed off their precious starts.

Apple Blossoms

Busy doing the normal chores, I noticed the fruit trees starting to bloom. Now I was getting concerned; one year we lost the fruit crop because of that March freeze I just mentioned. I was hoping that would not be the case again this year. Next appeared the lilacs in bloom; what a wonderful fragrance those flowers send out through the air. I love to walk by those bushes.

Dogwood in Bloom

Nothing seemed really odd until the dogwood began to bloom. Wait! This is March. The dogwoods aren’t supposed to bloom until mid-April. I am really confused. The blooming dogwoods are my trigger to put the garden in. Do I plant or do I wait? This is not right! I started to poll various “old timers” around me. No, they could not remember the dogwood blooms coming this early in the year. Sure seems odd. The box turtles are out and about also and we usually don’t see them until May.

You have to know something about these “old timers”; nothing really fazes them. They have been around long enough to have seen many odd things. They might consult the Old Farmers’ Almanac but they will probably wait to plant at the regular time, the end of April. Never can trust what the weather may do. So, like them, I will wait and hope the summer doesn’t get too hot and take its toll on my crops.

Praying for cooler weather as I enjoy the coloring of my world.


Dogwood-Missouri State Tree

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