Happy Holidays everyone! This is a time for gratitude and we are so grateful for this little alpaca. Today’s Monday Meet and Greet is our dear Snowman.
On October 11th, 2018 we were preparing for the first day of our annual Open House. Octobers in Montana historically are cold and snowy. There are a lot of jokes among locals that we have winter 9 months of the year and spring, summer and fall all happen in three months. On this particular Bozeman day, the weather was calling for snow and we almost canceled the opening day of the Open House, because we thought it would be too cold for people to enjoy hanging out with the alpacas. We spent some time brainstorming how to accommodate the likelihood of true Montana weather and decided to move as much of the Open House into our barn as possible. James and Sarah were actively running around trying to get everything squared away inside the barn as people were starting to arrive to spend time with the alpaca herd, shop products and enjoy the community we’ve built in our town. The barn was rather hectic given that there were so many alpacas and people in one place and one of the barn doors was left ajar. Noticing this, Phoebe--Snowman's mom--snuck out of the barn to the windward side and had her baby right there--in two feet of snow.
Our Anatolian Shepherds have three types of barks that signal different things. One of them started barking and Sarah realized it was a distress bark, so she went to see what was happening only to find a newborn baby alpaca in a snowbank. Phoebe wasn’t predicted to have her baby for some time, so they didn’t consider something like this to be a possibility.
Acknowledging that she had to act immediately if the baby alpaca stood a chance at survival, Sarah took off her Carhartt jacket, wrapped the baby in it and hurriedly rushed into the barn. Alpacas usually run a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit and when Snowman was brought into the barn his temperature was a mere 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Alpacas of Montana had an intern at the time who was adamantly working to dry off and warm up the newborn baby alpaca.
The baby stopped breathing, so James began performing mouth-to-mouth CPR and chest compressions in hopes to bring life back to the newborn. After nearly a half an hour with no luck, James looked around at his surroundings to find over 300 people standing around him, watching him perform CPR on a baby alpaca. He knew he couldn’t let his community down. He knew he would find a way to save the baby. With renewed energy, he began administering CPR again. After a few minutes, the baby’s lips started to move a little. Just a quiver. There was hope. James quickly stood up and tipped the newborn alpaca upside down with the intention of getting enough blood to his head quick enough that he could survive. After a minute or so, he went back to mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions. Color started returning to the newborn’s gums. Then--a breath. James did everything he could to keep the baby’s heart rate high, so he wouldn’t stop breathing again. After 30 minutes, Snowman was standing on his own and nursing from his mom. A true miracle baby--our little Snowman.
Two weeks after his birth, Snowman started to limp. We took him into the vet and somehow (to this day no one knows how) he had broken his femur. He had to wear a cast for eight weeks, but his leg didn’t set right, so he had to get it reset and endure the cast life an additional eight weeks. Snowman’s time in a cast stunted his growth, and even at two years old is still a pretty small guy, but we love him all the same. He’s a spunky, happy guy who is a valuable part of a herd, and therefore, our family.
From our family to yours, we hope you and your family enjoy the Holidays!
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