Or Why You Won’t See Me At An Alpaca Show This Fall
Do you see this alpaca above? His name is Colt McCoy (named for the wonderful Texas Longhorns quarterback). He is one of the finest alpacas I’ve ever bred. I bragged on him.
If you have ever read my blog or met me, you’ve probably heard me going on and on…and on about my darling little Colt McCoy alpaca. He was born in October 2008 and I’ve blogged about him many times. (Here, here, here, and here, to name a few.) In my defense – I mean, look at him. I may have barn blinders on, but in the alpaca world – this “look” sells. Who doesn’t love the fuzzy teddy bear/Ewok running around in the fields?
And then….the unthinkable happened.
It has taken me months to write about this occurrence. It was so heinous, so depressing that I could barely speak of it, much less write about it. Guess I’ll just blurt it out -
Colt lost all his hair!
And when I say “all his hair”….I mean, literally, “ALL THE HAIR on the top of his head!!!!!” All the poor guy had left were some eyelashes. Long, gorgeous, eyelashes that Brooke Shields would envy…but I digress. He also lost most of it on his body.
Here’s what happened:
One evening I glanced at Colt as he scooted past me. “Hmm,” I thought. “Colt’s face looks different. Less Fiber.” I made a mental note to check on him the next day because he had already run past me out into the field. Though I knew from my quick glimpse that something was “off” I couldn’t put my finger on it. In the back of my mind I figured that another alpaca had gotten nutty and plucked a small tuft of his fiber off his neck or something. I dared not think it was off his face.
The next day I got a gut-wrenching text from our farm manager: “Colt’s hair is falling out. He has no topknot.” My stomach dropped to the ground. My rare and much anticipated shopping trip at Target lost it’s shine. I headed for the checkout in a daze. My appetite took a vacation – unheard of. (I never miss a meal.) There was no joy in Mudville…
How could this happen? To my superstar boy? (Hush it, Murphy! Enough outta you & your fancy laws.)
Colt has had it all. Exceptional conformation, super fine, dense, crimpy fleece, tremendous bloodlines, star presence, and (*wipes a tear*) the best fiber coverage on the farm. I was ready to prance him into the show ring within a matter of months. So when I got that text, the only thing I could think, or say for that matter, for the next few hours was, “DAMN!” Seriously?
I rushed home, and we jumped into action. We took his temperature, checked his poop for parasites, gave him a good once over, and called the vet. The resulting diagnosis was a stress-break to the fiber due to heat stress and/or a high temperature which would have occurred previously. Interestingly it wasn’t that hot when this happened (compared to what is usual for us here in Alabama). Colt does grow a lot of fiber, But he showed us no signs that he was having any sort of heat problem. In fact, he was still walking around like everything was fine. Fine – EXCEPT HE’S BALD as Uncle Fester!
Thanks to Cheryl and Andy Bowen of Humming Star Alpacas who helped me realize that the only choice I had was to laugh. They helped me find the funny side to all this with this sympathy card they sent to Colt:
Note: In an email to Cheryl, as Colt’s guardian, I thanked them for their support and acknowledged that Colt would need their friendship now more than ever.
Cheryl thought we could get him a little hat and tell the AOBA Show Judge, “The hat is NOT coming off!” But judges don’t really like to hear that – so he’s a “scratch” for Alpaca Shows in the near future.
By now you’re probably dying to see what he looks like. Here’s how it looked to us:
This is one of the first views we saw. You can tell that something is going on with his fleece, particularly on his back legs. There are tufts of fiber coming off.
Here Colt is striding by and you can definitely tell that he doesn’t look like the Colt we are used to seeing. Fiber missing and hanging off of him…
But nothing can prepare you for this:
Yeah. And no, he did not have a date with Hannibal Lector. Though that’s exactly what kept running through my mind. Over and over again I kept saying, “Colt, where is the top of your head?”
Colt always buddies up with Xman. Xman is Colt’s security blanket of sorts since he was weaned from his dam, Nevoso, in June. It looks like Colt might be feeling shy about his hair loss, but I think he was just trying to avoid his usual paparazzi (me).
How ’bout that topknot? Like a scary Halloween costume for alpacas.
In an attempt to salvage what self-esteem Colt has left, we have kept him away from full-length mirrors. He has not seen himself.
Notice above he is standing in the typical, “Look at me! I am Fabulous, no?” Colt McCoy stance? We don’t have the heart to tell him, and his four-legged mates are kind enough not to mention it to him.
We waited about two weeks to let any more weak fibers grow on out, and then we sheared Colt all the way down. (His temperature was normal once we found the fiber loss, and it continued to become cooler outside so there was no need to “emergency shear” him immediately.) My goal was to try to salvage a fleece harvest from Colt. It is possible since he has a super long staple length.
National Alpaca Farm Day was coming up, and I wondered how people would respond to seeing Colt, who looked more like a deer with very long ears, than an alpaca.
Which One Is Not Like The Others? Yep, that’s him on the right.
Yes, he’s really a huacaya alpaca. Just a bald one.
Now all I can do is laugh. The prognosis is good. The vets say his fiber will all grow back just fine and there is no reason to think he will have any further problems from this incident. But my show headliner is out for the season. I will just look at it as a sign from the man upstairs that instead of going to alpaca shows this Fall, maybe I should go to a fiber show. So I went to SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair).
***Note: We’ve had alpacas for 10 years, and this is the first time this has ever happened. The universe’s way of keeping me humble.
I should never have said that my Colt McCoy alpaca was cuter than that Tim Tebow alpaca.