Since 2003 when we first got into alpacas, I've always told people that if you have "live stock" someday you will have "dead stock". I always knew it would happen. Everything in life has a beginning and an ending. Death is just a natural fact of life, right? Well, yes as long as it doesn't come visiting you.
That is exactly what happened in 2014. Death came like a steam roller and left a huge path of destruction and chaos. It all started at the very end of 2013 when we found our 8 year old black alpaca Midnight dead. An autopsy didn't reveal anything and the vet said it just "happened".
Then in July death ever so quietly came again on the farm. This time, it took Paul our little 7 month old blind alpaca. We never had expected Paul to make it through the first day so we lulled ourselves into a comfort zone when Summer came and he became more independent. It was just such a shock to find him dead in the pasture one day.
In August, we had barely gotten over the shock of Paul's death when we came to the farm and found Hannah a beautiful 2 year old female dead. Again, no idea of the actual cause. A knee jerk reaction was to treat the entire herd with everything and for anything.
We separated the herd into "thin girls" and the other girls and began feeding the "thin girls" extra. Everything seemed to be going well although Vanilla, Hannah's mother, was not putting on weight like everyone else.
Then in Dec we arrived at the farm to find Vanilla down and in serious distress. It broke my heart as I knew that we wouldn't be able to save her and the best thing would be to end her suffering. As she lay in the paddock area, I covered her up with blankets to keep her warm and laid down next to year. When the vet arrived, he too felt there was nothing more that could be done. I hugged Vanilla as she took her last breathe.
As I look back over 2014, I see how naïve I was. Though death had come calling at others alpaca farms, you just don't expect it to happen at your farm. As we start 2015, I'm hoping that we have seen the last of our unwanted visitor but I know that eventually it will make a return visit.
For now though, I'll accept that the lows make the highs ever so much more meaningful. For us, just waking up everyday and finding that God has given us another day here on earth is a blessing. I appreciate that I'm married to my soul-partner, have 4 great kids, 2 awesome grandchildren and good health. We look forward to the start of 2015!