The first cria born on our farm held a very special place in our hearts. Hannah’s Julie was born on a very cold and windy January day in 2000. As a result, she, her dam, and the one other alpaca on our small farm spent the better part of the next couple weeks living in our walk-in basement. Other than the weather, Julie was off to a strong and healthy start.
We made a very common mistake with our first cria – we handled her and fussed over her too much. Julie grew into a large and occasionally intimidating alpaca with beautiful fiber. She was healthy, an easy breeder and an excellent mother. Julie soon gained a reputation for having a bit of an attitude, an attitude that took on new meaning whenever she was pregnant. Behavior testing was easy – just walk a male by the barn door and the spit flew!
But we loved Julie despite her feistiness and she rewarded us with nine outstanding offspring, including a trio of exceptional males sired by the same macho, TNT Peruvian Hit Man. Those males are Snowshoe Aristides and his younger brothers, Snowshoe Astraios and Snowshoe Ammonoosuc. Producing those males truly made Julie the most important foundation female in our breeding program.
Not to be outshone by their brothers, are Julie’s beautiful daughters, including my favorite alpaca ever, Snowshoe Desdemona (who has never appeared on a sale list!).
Julie gave birth to her last cria in 2013. The following year, she began to lose condition and we saw that her teeth were very worn. We’re realizing this is a common problem with older alpacas and very much interferes with them being able to get sufficient nutrition.
Julie turned 17 years old not long before she died.
RIP Julie, not only do you live on in our hearts, but your influence on our herd will never be matched.