Sunday, 29 August 2010

Tense situations, country style, part II

So this time the alpaca really had gone into labour when I was the only person here, and it wasn't a normal labour. The head and front legs are supposed to come out together, but only the head was out, and gasping horribly. Luckily my dad wasn't far away, so that by the time the vet was giving over-the-phone instructions along the lines of "put the head back in and feel around for the legs" my dad was the one who greased up and did the whole James Herriott thing. I just held Esther the alpaca's head. She made the most horrible noises, and eventually ended up just lying on her side looking utterly exhausted, poor soul. Even more luckily a real vet was able to get here and sort it out properly -- it only took him about ten minutes of rummaging to get the legs sorted out. The alpacas do this really rather endearing thing where, although they are usually a bit stubborn and like to do their own thing, if something is actually wrong they declare a truce and are really nice to us. So that even though we were clearly causing Esther a lot of pain she seemed to realise we weren't doing it for no reason, and didn't ty to get away from us -- she just expressed herself through blood-curdling shrieks.

Anyway, at the time of writing a baby girl provisionally called Jemima is sitting next to her mother, making occasional movements towards standing up. I ought to feel all elated, but the crucial thing with baby alpacas is that they suckle. If they've suckled by nightfall they're almost always fine. If they haven't then they almost always die. Usually when things go wrong with the whole process of birth and the first few days it's because there's something underlying wrong. Hopefully feet in the wrong place is just the sort of random thing which could happen to anyone, and doesn't indicate a bigger issue. But she must be very tired after such a protracted birth, and I'm sure her mother is exhausted too. So I am not totally optimistic as yet. She is adorable though and I will take some pictures to put up. And I expect that the next post will either be a happy one, or an RIP.

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