… an unexpected cria was born at Liston. J went out to feed the animals on an icy Sunday morning and saw what he described as “a periscope poking out of a small pile on the ground.” When he went to investigate, he found a baby alpaca sitting down, head poking up, placenta beside it. He is no animal mid-wife and was driven into a state of near panic. The mother, Rosie, wasn't feeding it, and the weather seemed colder by the minute. An attempt to settle mother and child in the shed failed. He rang the vet, who connected him with a couple who breed alpacas and who arrived with information leaflets, a coat for a baby alpaca, instructions about preparing the coat for mother's acceptance, and general reassurance. By this time the baby was suckling happily, and the coat was never used. But confidence in its survival was still not strong.
When I turned to Stanthorpe on Wednesday, J met me, saying “There's something I need to show you.” And there it was. A tiny brown and white creature, long-legged and alert-eared, taking brief and frequent feeds from its mother. Having read the information on alpaca fertility cycles, J became paranoid about the boys impregnating Rosie again immediately, and began a contraceptive fence-strengthening project to keep them away from her.
And then, just when confidence was building, the snow began to fall, and the wind began to howl in a once-in-thirty-years weather event. It took us a while to figure out that alpacas live in totally inhospitable-to-us climates and that Rosie may well have chosen to unpack her offspring in ideal weather. Rosie and babcia Connie stayed close to the little one and they all sat in a sheltered spot under the eucalypts. The cria even frolicked on the freezing day when frolic was the furthest thing from my mind.
The day after the snow was sunny and warm, and, superstition fading, I was finally allowed to take photos. The baby is a week old.