February 9, 2019
We hope your year is off to a good start!
There’s been a lot happening on the farm here at Skate Rumple…. Those who follow us on social media will know that one of our little goats was injured in a recent storm. We’ve had lots of lovely comments and well-wishes and Zebedee is thankfully doing much better. Insch also had a scare a few months back, with lots of lovely people sending love to him too, and is also doing brilliantly.
Because of the bad weather, injuries, and general winter blues, we’ve been doing a lot of extra TLC and enrichment ideas. We thought we’d share first some updates on Insch and Zebedee, and then write about the whole farm enjoying some Boredom Busters!
Part One: Insch Update
Insch the alpaca, the prime poser for photographs and health-and-safety expert, hurt his foot last November*. We noticed him limping one day, not doing his usual alpaca power-walk. He was also at the back of the line, which is not like him. Insch decides where the herd goes, when they go, and whether it’s time for a big communal loo break.
We phoned the vet, and spent the day observing him. Insch was off his food and spent most of the time laid down looking glum. Insch is not a very relaxed personality (danger is everywhere!) and often guzzles down food quickly and efficiently. Animals acting out of character is a good way to judge if they’re in pain. Insch has a highly expressive face, so it wasn’t hard to tell he was feeling under the weather.
After a many inspections, vet visits, and days observation, it was a bit of a mystery of what exactly was the problem with the leg. Insch let his three humans catch him easily to examine him. Any visiting vets, however, Insch would try to bolt. (Which weirdly helped Insch in the end.)
Until then, we had three days of a sorry looking Insch and talks of getting a big X-Ray machine out to the farm. We were fearful of broken bones. Plus Insch is easily upset by new things. (You’ve changed your shampoo??? What was wrong with coconut?!”) He is a highly suspicious creature, who can take up to three hours to decide if that new wheelbarrow is really a puma in disguise. (Spoiler: it’s not.) So we were not only hoping beyond hope nothing was broken… We were also daunted about getting a highly-strung alpaca into a big danger-machine that probably smelt of horses.
Thankfully, another vet came for one last examination before we would try the X-Ray-Danger-Machine option. This vet was an Australian working in Orkney for a couple of months. The poor chap was half-frozen. Now, remember Insch is a hyper-alert alpaca. Insch had heard there are venomous beasties in Australia and was wary of stowaways. Alpacas are naturally fearful of snakes, and Insch was taking no chances. He scarpered like the vet had a common death adder up his thermal coat sleeve.
We caught him, and tried to calm Insch down. (“Spiders! Have you checked him for spiders?”) And when the vet checked him over, he spotted, to all our amazement, a bleeding foot. I won’t go into vast details – but the theory is that a thorn or twig became lodged in his foot. The skin then healed over the wound, the thorn (or whatever it was) became infected, and caused a lot of pain for poor Insch. It was good news in the sense of it being easily fixable.
Insch disagreed. (“Is that blood? Did the snake bite me? Oh help me, please! Where will we get anti-venom in Orkney???) But ultimately, he felt better rather quickly.
The other alpacas were lovely with Insch. They stuck close to him. They didn’t do their normal field races or frisky games. (Which is probably how the thorn/twig got lodged in his foot in the first place. Especially as some of these wild running bursts occur in the pitch darkness of night.) It was sweet at first but we noticed the herd was somewhat subdued. They weren’t even bickering that much over food!
We’ve been trying out new enrichment ideas, which you’ll see in the Boredom Buster blog post soon. This includes a super special dinner* for the boys which is going down a treat.
*Alpaca Porridge with a Twist: A mixture of warm, comforting soaked beet, their tasty Camelibra mix, and delish alfalfa pellets. Yum!
Insch lost a bit of weight, but has slowly put it back on. Due to the lack of bickering, the boys let Insch gobble down his alpaca porridge without the normal fuss. The tea is stodgy and warm and helped build him back up. Insch is naturally on the skinny-side but is now a good, healthy alpaca weight again.
Insch wisely now tends to avoid running games. (The other alpacas are up to their old tricks: playing, pouting, having the odd tiff, and doing mysterious alpaca tail-signals.) This is no huge hardship, as he was always the first one to time-out of playtime. In the past, he always looked mightily harassed over the whole thing. Now, he just looks superior and aloof.
His walk is ever-so-slightly altered but doesn’t appear painful. He can still gallop to the shed when it’s sleeting!
With all he’s been through, Insch can’t believe all he still has to put up with. Ducks. Rain. Baby goats stealing his hay. But he’s doing marvellously, despite it all.
Look out for the Zebedee Update coming soon, and a Boredom Buster blog after that!
Thank you for all the kind messages we received! And to all the hand-drawn Get Well Soon cards sent to Insch from the nursery children. Insch was very chuffed and shows them to everyone xxx