Old man Argus is one heck of a guy. He was born in the summer of 2007 from the farm De La Patagonia, which was one of the top 3 farms in the nation, until the owners retired and moved back to Chile. At a young age Argus started competing in shows around the country. He is a beautiful silver gray alpaca. At Alpacas of Montana we breed for gray and black alpacas, so the decision to purchase Argus was quite easy. He has a gorgeous fleece that is extremely dense and exhibits a very consistent, high-frequency crimp (the wave in the individual alpaca fiber, which is what is most ideal and essential in ranking alpaca fiber). Argus went to a competition called the Alpaca Sweepstakes where he was judged in the light color class, which means that there were alpacas of all sorts of different colors, not just gray. The judge from Peru was blown away with Argus and commented on the extreme density that he has for a gray colored alpaca. He was extremely successful in various alpaca competitions around the country. In 2008, he was the Ohio Buckeye Color Champion and also the Color Champion at the National Alpaca Sweepstakes. Also in 2008, he came in 1st place overall at the MAPACA Jubilee and at the Ohio Buckeye. He was second overall in the 2008 AOBA Nationals as well.
Argus is a very decorated alpaca with one big personality. Wherever he goes, he tries to be the top dog--well, alpaca. At our farm, we keep the male and female alpacas in separate pastures, so they do not breed. The males are seemingly always ready to go, so we have to make sure there’s a fence between them and the females. When we first brought Argus back to our farm, we kept him separate (via a small fence) from all of the other males as well, so he could get the lay of the land and a feel for his new living situation.
While he was still separated from everyone else, one of our horses wandered over to Argus’ pen to check him out. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too thrilled about the newcomer. Our horse turned his rear right up against the thin, flexible fence and kicked Argus square in the right shoulder, breaking it on impact. The poor guy was supposed to lay low, but his injury just made him want to assert his “head alpaca” status even more.
Being a rambunctious male, he tried to pick fights and claim dominance. During one of his wild bouts he tried a move that didn’t pan out and resulted in a torn ACL. After talking to a board certified Orthopedic Surgeon, we decided not to do an ACL surgery on him, but to try and just give him some therapy and time to recuperate. Ultimately, we knew that the only way the surgery would have been worth it was if we could ensure he would have taken it easy, been compliant and relaxed, which were all far out of his demeanor. He wasn’t going to stop trying to be top alpaca just because we wanted him to heal from a surgery, so we decided to forgo the operation and give him some medications to help swelling and healing instead. We figured that eventually he would simmer down and lose some of that coveted Argus spunk (ya know, as he aged), but boy were we wrong. In another rambunctious spree he tore another ACL.
The old man still has a ton of spirit and spunk in him and remains a vital part of our breeding program every year. We know that his arthritis flares up during the colder months, so we give him anti-inflammatory shots and make sure he’s always got a warm spot in the barn to spend the nights. We’re not sure he ever actually established his desired “top alpaca” position on the farm, but he definitely is a respected older gentleman. The other males young and old - give him leeway and get out of his path as he walks through, so it’s a balance he has to settle for. As owner James says, “he’s our dude” and we’re happy to have him as a part of our family. Even after he gimps around with his coat and eats his special feed during the winter, the old Argus is back in the Spring during the breeding season, showing off his personality and energy.
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