Ariana is opinionated, independent, and very strong-willed. It’s these characteristics that immediately drew me to her. I could tell she was smart, alert, and definitely the alpha female. I admired all of these qualities because I am also all of those things.
She came to our farm as an experienced mother. She had already delivered multiple crias and has done so without assistance. And this was by her choice. She typically waits for humans to depart, and as soon as they do, she delivers her cria quickly.
When she went into labor on May 15th, it was a completely different story. While she did wait for my husband to leave, she slowed her birth down and waited for assistance. She did so because her baby wasn’t positioned correctly and she knew she was in trouble.
When an alpaca gives birth you should see “head and toes”, which is soon followed by the rest of the cria body. In this case, we could see a full head, but no toes or legs. After about thirty minutes we knew Ariana and her cria were both in trouble and we were danger of losing them.
After some investigation, it was clear the legs were stuck because they were not in the correct position.
Ariana is not one to be held or touched. We were warned about this at purchase and we knew we were in for an adventure with this troubled birth. But warnings did not matter at this point. In (literally and not figuratively) we went to assist.
I held Ariana’s neck and head and slowly talked to her so I could provide a sense of calm. While I did my best to settle her nerves, my husband tried to adjust the cria. Unfortunately, we quickly realized his hands were too large and we needed smaller hands. My hands are miniature, but I was also running out of time. I had a full workday of conference calls and could not reschedule.
We had no choice but to call in reinforcements. Soon Aunt Debbie arrived to provide a second set of small hands and Stephan from Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm arrived to provide guidance. Together the three repositioned the cria and Ariana was able to deliver.
Now keep in mind we are relatively new to alpaca farming and Aunt Debbie had no prior experience. Experience or not, Aunt Debbie did an excellent job taking guidance from Stephan and helping Ariana through her extended labor.
I was forced to watch the entire thing from my home office, which was frustrating. I love my alpacas and they are more than livestock to me. They are beloved pets and Ariana – and all of her attitude – is one of my favorite alpacas. Being unable to provide assistance was hard. Watching it from a distance was even harder.
The interesting thing is that this day, and the days that followed, brought Ariana and I closer together. There were multiple times where I needed to hug on her for medical treatments or hold her new cria to assist with wellness checks and feedings. Each time I would talk to her, stroke her neck, and remind her I was there to help. Each time she let me and this went against every bit of her normal behavior.
Today Ariana and her cria are both doing excellent. Ariana is still the herd’s alpha and Teddy is just a big goofball. He greats visitors, tugs on their clothes, and runs around with joy and excitement.
I look at him often and remember his birth, the trauma Ariana went through, and the team effort it took to keep them both safe. And when I do I am thankful.