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The Shadow Diaries

I was born; well here ends the similarity to Black Beauty’s biography.  I’m a dark brown, baby alpaca who was rejected by my mother at birth and she never really got used to having me in the same space as her and was quite adamant about this, often using violence.  Needless to say, I don’t really like big female alpacas who are angry and because I couldn’t feed from her, I didn’t get the vital colostrum which is essential for any baby alpaca’s wellbeing as it contains the necessary building blocks for the immune system and which are in the first milk.  My owners were going away and didn’t know what to do with me so asked Tracy if she could help out for a four days, bottle feeding me.  Here is my picture diary:


I had to be bottle fed with warmed goats’ milk

I arrived at Ridgeleys Farm on the 23rd July, with a runny tummy, no immune system and a genuine fear of most things except people (who seem okay).  Before I could be introduced to Tracy’s herd, she mixed up a ‘poo soup’, using the faeces of a baby alpaca and boiling water left to cool.  This herd fragrance was sparingly put behind my ears, dotted down my back and around the tail area.  (I have the recipe if you want it!)  It was a success and whilst I wasn’t accepted into the herd immediately, I wasn’t rejected either.

Tracy hoped that one of the dams would mother me and feed me, but that didn’t happen; I was terrified of them and tried to hide in the corner of the stable, so we agreed on plan B, Tracy became my feeder and protector.  She couldn’t go home because by the time she’d arrived in Cambridge, it would be time to come back to the farm.  Luckily there is a little bedroom for such emergencies and Tracy started to stay there and, for the first few days, I slept in there too.

Wake UP, I’m hungry!

All seemed fine for a couple of days, but then Tracy noticed something was seriously wrong.  She made me a rope halter out of her plaited chunky yarn and I was wrapped in a towel and placed on Jane’s lap in the front of our van Bessie and I was driven to the Cambridge Vet School.  It was probably very exciting, but I didn’t really care.

I arrive at hospital and became a favourite of the office staff

I had a batch of tests and yes it was the lack of colostrum which was causing all my troubles.  Luckily Tracy had some plasma spun earlier in the year and this had all the building blocks for my immune system, so I had a blood transfusion and my life was saved.

I’m feeling better…

I was supposed to be in quarantine when I came back but I became so stressed on my own and Tracy thought that it worse psychologically to leave me in there so she brought me into the building with her to sleep, stay and get better.  I had to be bottle fed every two hours including night feeds and after a tricky first week, I gradually got better.

I quickly learned what is and is not allowed:

I mustn’t interrupt the knitting


especially at a workshop

I do enjoy rearranging the literature 

and integrating with the herd


I have a play station and invite my friends over for a chew


but I still like people (you can see how much I’ve grown)!

You might have noticed that these are the longest four days ever, but Tracy had an arrangement with Dawn and I live here now.  I am of course going from strength to strength; three months old , starting to look like a teddy bear and I’m fully accepted by the herd.  I have great times with Oberon and Orpheus, but my favourite is Ophelia – she’s lush!



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