Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Introductions. Lily.

You may have noticed in previous postings that I refer to lily as 'My favourite alpaca in the whole wide world'. She is, and there are several reasons for this. I will try to explain why in the telling of her short life to date.

Lily was born on the 3rd of August 2006, our second cria and our first female. A Shaft's Dream girl, pictured below with her mother Bannock. As we only had two cria in our first year Lily and Henry got rather a lot of attention.

We were eager to get involved in alpaca shows and as such we set off with a mighty show team of two to the SWAG Spring Show, Lily having been expertly halter trained by Spiderman. Here caught in a rare moment when he is without his mask.
Lily did very well, coming second in a class of about 14 black girls. Our first rosette, it was a very proud day. Here she is accepting yet another cuddle from Angus, never complaining always obliging.

Lily grew well and late in 2007 Lily was covered by Centurion. Naturally, being Lily, only one mating was required. 11 and a half months to the day later Lily delivered, in text book fashion, Amelie, a beautiful healthy brown daughter.
Shortly after Amelie was born, on a beautiful sunny day I took the camera out and sat in the field. Lily came over with her new baby and they lay down next to me. The reason Lily's head is not visible in this picture is because it is right under my arm and it was too close to get in the picture. It was as if Lily was showing me her baby and in turn showing her baby that there was nothing to be afraid of when baldy came around. It was a special moment, a very special moment.

Two months before giving birth we had discovered that Lily had developed a jaw abscess on her lower jaw. An intensive course of antibiotics (Nuflor) was administered and the abscess reduced in size and all but disappeared. A few months later and it had returned with a vengeance. After lengthy discussions we decided that it would be surgically removed.

Luckily for us there is a superb Equine Hospital just the other side of Salisbury and it was there that I took Lily, Amelie and Lola (Lily's sister) for company. Three days later I collected them and the operation was declared a complete success. The front root on her first molar on the lower left jaw had been removed and the tooth had been saved. It had cost us a small fortune but it was Lily, there was no quibble about expense.

The next short passage is difficult for me to write. It makes me angry and sad to think about it.

It was time to wean Amelie off Lily, it was the end of January 2009. I loaded Lily and two others into our trailer for a short five minute drive to our friend Liz who looks after the mums whilst the babies learn to live without suckling. At the time we had an old horsebox, a very old horsebox. On arrival I opened up the trailer and Lily was lying down by the side door which is the door they were loaded through. It quickly became apparent that she had her foot caught in the trailer door. I released her foot but part of her rear right foot had been severed. I thought I had been so careful when shutting the trailer door, obviously not. That trailer has never and will never be used again, it sits in the field and I hate the bloody thing.

To say I was furious with myself would be a gross understatement. I wanted to kick my own head in. Lily hadn't made a sound throughout and we quickly got her home and called the vet.

He cleaned the wound and bandaged her up. Another long course of antibiotics was prescribed. Then it started to snow. After an already long wet winter we struggled to keep her dressing dry. It had to be changed every three days and with 6 inches of snow on the ground we needed help.

Good friends of ours Ivan and Gill came to the rescue with the offer to use their barn. Lily was taken over with two companions (the wrong two as it turned out) and housed in a lovely dry barn. The dressings remained dry and the wound started to improve. On the 20th of March 2009 the dressing came off for the last time the foot had healed but at a price.

Three days later we went to see Lily and found her in a bad way. She was not eating, she was thin, she was down and we were worried. The vet was called. He examined her thoroughly. Her guts had shut down, she was severely anaemic and she was very thin. She was showing no interest in life. The vet said, and I'll never forget his words, 'Sorry, you are going to lose this one, she's given up'. There were tears at this point and then Sue and I decided that we would take her home immediately. Lily may have given up but we had not given up on her.
What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary. I drove the trailer into the field and opened the rear door. I was practically knocked over by Lola and Bannock as they rushed to get to Lily. There was a lot of sniffing and they stayed close to her from then on. Never underestimate the bond between alpaca family members!
I put a chart on the wall. It was titled 'Lily - Operation fightback'.

Blood results came back, the news was not good, Lily shouldn't really have been alive. There was talk of a blood transfusion. We changed vets to facilitate this and sought further advice. We commenced a full on regime aimed at getting Lily back from the brink. She stared eating again. We were pouring high energy meals down her twice a day, injecting her with iron, multi-vitamins. You name it, if we thought it could help we did it. The support we received from the alpaca community was immense.

Lily slowly turned things around, her bloods improved, she improved, she started to put on weight she came back to us and our new vet was very pleased with her progress. She made a full recovery and by the end of May her bloods were back to normal. So much so that after another lengthy discussion Lily was mated to Jack of Spades.

Our very special Lily pictured above fully recovered. She is due to give birth late in May and we can't wait to see what she will produce. After all she produced something pretty special last time.
Sorry that was a bit long winded, it's been quite an emotional morning for me going back over all that. Hopefully you will now see why Lily is my favourite alpaca in the whole wide world.


Amiryck said...

Mum is always telling me I shouldn't have favourites but sometimes it is inevitable. Lily is testimant to that and that sometimes it is actually a good thing. I look forward to hearing all about her new cria this year.

Lets hope her life goes a bit more smoothly from now on!

Knapper Alpakka said...

That's a great story, Mark. No wonder you love that girl.

Debbie, Barnacre Alpacas said...

Lily is testimant to what a good job you do with your animals.

The bond between certain alpacas is amazing isn't it. I'm sure that once I lost Zahira last year her mum Blossom gave up her fight with cancer as I lost her three days later.

Barbara@beckbrowalpacas said...

Thank you for sharing that touching tale Mark. I think you are allowed to make Lily your favourite after that.

Terry said...

Lily has earned her favorite status! What a special girl!

Apple Vale Alpacas said...

Wow, what a tale - that's made my eyes water! Thanks for sharing it. Dave

Zanzibah Alpacas said...

Hi Mark....I remembered it well !..and your quest to save Lilly !...what a fantastic job and Im pleased to say, a credit to your dedication...to your Alpacas !...I do like a happy ending !.....'We Love Lilly' ..fan club ...Jayne

Jeff and Sheila said...

A touching story Mark. Thanks for sharing.