Sheena was part of our foundation herd of alpacas. Her registration papers said she was born in Australia in January 1992 and was imported to Canada, Alberta. Her journey was not over yet and she took another trip to Ontario, Briers Run Alpaca, and finally to our farm in September 2004. She was now 12 years old and bred to Royal Peruvian Black Star, who was also part of our foundation herd.
Alpacas have a gestation period of 11.5 months, give birth between 9 am and 3 pm and hardly ever need any help. These are the things we had learned from other farmers and Sheena’s due date was end of June 2005. I was ready for this big event. Our first cria born on our farm and I wanted to be there to witness this miracle of life.
By June 20th I probably started to walk out to the pasture a few times a day, just to check if I could see any movement of the baby and to make sure that nothing was bothering her. Sheena was very shy, maybe her long journey made her a bit more suspicious of humans. She looked irritated by all the attention she got from me. However, she had started to accept food from my hand and I thought we were making progress in the trust department.
I had reorganized my daily tasks, so I would not be away from the farm for more than 2 hours. I checked in the morning at feeding time around 9 am and would be back for noon the latest. On June 24th 2005 Sheena ate with the herd and there was no suspicious behavior. I went shopping and was back out in the pasture by noon. And there she was with cria aside. He was all dried up, on his feet, standing beside his mother and I am sure they both had a little smirk on their face – got you! I named him Sir Winston.
She must have had her cria right after I left the pasture to have him dry and standing up like that 3 hours later. Usually alpacas giving birth that day don’t come for breakfast and stay a little to the side of the herd. They are a little cranky, walk a little, roll a little, just to get that baby into the right position and move things along the days before the event. That is what the books say and my mentors explained to me at the time.
Well, Winston was not Sheena’s first baby and she had everything under control.
She did it again the following year. Winston got a sister and this time she gave birth outside “business hours”. The cria must have arrived around 7 am. Alpacas usually give birth between 9 am and 3 pm, giving the cria a chance to gather their strength and be up an running before night fall. An important skill when you need to survive in the wild and keep up with the herd. Her name, how could I ever forget, Dawn.
It was 3 years before I saw a cria born on my own farm!