Tiny Phoenix Alpaca Rises

Andy with Phoenix, photo by Cheryl Bowen

Andy with Phoenix, photo by Cheryl Bowen

It started out a glorious morning. My beloved herdsire Magnum was coming home from a long breeding engagement in Colorado. Another of our herdsires, Firecracker, was on trailer as well. IN addition there were three other alpacas who belonged to me but that I had never seen in person – Guardian Angel (our Archangel daughter) and her male cria by side, and Foxy Lady who we had gotten in exchange for several of Magnum’s breedings.

I was thrilled with the prospect of hugging Magnum’s neck again and greeting the new arrivals. The transporter was to be here at 8:30 AM. This was the kids’ first morning out of school for the break so we all lingered in bed a little longer than usual.

When I heard the buzzer indicating that the transport trailer had entered our front gate, I flew out the door. Running towards the trailer, I saw Magnum’s head in the back window. I almost wept with joy! I hurriedly greeted Capt. Dick Hegeman of Alpacas In The Forest, who was driving the rig. We exchanged pleasantries and got Magnum off the trailer. Poor alpaca had been traveling for 7 days!

As I walked Magnum into the barn something caught my eye in the first stall on the right. A lifeless brown lump and a placenta.

My heart sunk. Tapioka had had a stillborn. I felt an empty pang in the pit of my stomach. Disappointment flooded through me, “Oh no!” Dick and I both said at the same time. I quickly put Magnum in his pen and rushed to get back to the dismal scene. “It’s stomach looks like it moved a little,” Dick said.

“Really?” I asked disbelieving. I scurried into the pen and picked up the lifeless cria who hung like a limp dishrag in my arms. “She’s really cold,” Dick said. “Do you have a hot tub you can warm her in?” “No, but I have a bathtub,” I said, without thinking.

“Go ahead. I’m empty so I can wait while you see about the cria,” Dick said. “Let me know what I can do to help!”

“Okay!” I hollered over my shoulder as I ran to the house with my little dishrag.”

As I ran, I looked down at the cria. “It’s dead,” I thought. “It’s already dead.” Caught up in the drama I thought I’d try anyway. There was no life in the cria’s eyes. No spark to show me she was with us. I was going on a fool’s errand, but for some reason I was compelled to go.

I rushed past everyone in the house, up the stairs, and plopped her (in a trash bag) into the bathtub and began running the warm water. Did I see an attempt at breathing? I gave mouth to mouth. Doing this on a new cria is an experience that brings mixed feelings. Their little mouths are tiny. They are dirty with remnants of the “saran wrap” having just been removed. So it’s a tad bit ewww. But the sense of heroism one feels from giving breath, possibly life, to another makes it worthwhile.

As the water filled the tub, the cria’s eyes still looked lost, faraway, unlooking. But occasionally I would see an attempt to breathe. After a bit I felt the need to get back to Dick and all the animals still on the trailer. Sorry that I couldn’t be two places at once, I recruited my husband, the Artist to hold the little cria’s head above water and keep warming her up.”I hope this animal doesn’t die while I’m sitting here holding it,” he said.

“She was dead when I brought her in,” I called back. Hoping that might make him feel better if the little thing did expire.

Back outside I went. We unloaded a couple of alpacas before my son called to me that, “Dad needs you!” Oh dear. Back to the house.

We were out of hot water, but the cria was drawing shallow, desperate breaths. The Artist went to heat up some water on the stove. I decided to pull the baby out of the water and blow dry him. My children kept coming in and admiring the cria. They were curious, and each got a turn helping out by bringing me towels, hairdryers, and heating pads.

The first picture I had time to take

The first picture I had time to take

The cria came to life a bit more as we blow dried him. As I held up his head to dry it, he seemed to want to hold it up. He mostly laid there while we dried him. During this process we discovered two key pieces of information about the cria. It was a boy. And though he looked brown, underneath his fiber was rose gray. His face was so pretty I had guessed that he was a girl, but the equipment told a different story.

I left the children blow drying the little guy with strict instructions to the Artist not to let them burn him up. Back to the barn. Dick and I unloaded the last of the alpacas. I called my vet’s office to see if I could run the cria up to their clinic for an oxygen treatment. My vets were not on call. I thought wistfully how much they deserve a vacation, especially around the holidays….but why now? An unsatisfactory conversation with the on call vet had me frustrated. (They have little, if any, knowledge of alpacas.) I noticed my visitors, and quickly hung up the phone.

Sparkle’s human parents, Cheryl and Andy Bowen, of Humming Star Alpacas, had come over for a visit. I was happy to see them, but feeling frazzled…

The Artist drying the cria

Steve drying the cria

I introduced Cheryl and Andy to Dick and scooted back and forth to check on my patient, and check with my alpaca peeps. I decided to bring the cria back to the barn to be closer to his mom. I brought Cheryl with me to help carry all our heating equipment. As we topped the landing, the scene melted my heart. There was the Artist, blow drying the little guy, with the most tender, adoring look on his face. He had been massaging the cria, stimulating his muscles. “He likes it when I do this,” he said as he showed me where to blow dry the cria’s neck. “He’s sitting up. And he wants to stand up.”

Do what? He wants to get up?”

“Yeah, look” With a little help the cria was standing. I was floored. Wow.

Downstairs the kids were watching tv. “Look kids!” I exclaimed, placing the little guy on his four legs.

The cria took a few steps into the sunroom. One of the twins began immediately hugging and helping him. They couldn’t believe it. The cria we had seen an hour ago was such a goner, how in the world had he made such a miraculous recovery? “Phoenix.” the Artist suggested. We all agreed it was the perfect name.

Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother?

We took Phoenix outside to see his mom. “I can’t believe that’s the same animal!” Dick exclaimed upon seeing him. Ever since then Phoenix has acted like a “normal” cria. He walks around, nurses, and seems fine. strong. He is only 9 lbs. and with a start like that he will be an “at risk” cria. But he has fight like I’ve never before seen.

Phoenix has risen! Photo by Cheryl Bowen

Phoenix has risen! Photo by Cheryl Bowen

Move over Magnum. A tiny little Phoenix has stolen my heart.


  1. Congrats on your little Phoenix! He’s gorgeous – and this story just brought happy tears to my eyes. :)
    .-= @Micrathene´s last blog ..Mid-December In Byte-Sized Chunks =-.

  2. I cheered in my office when I saw the pictures of the little mite standing by his dam. He’s as much a fighter as he is adorable. I look forward to reading more about him in the future!
    .-= Caitie´s last blog ..Just kind of freaking out. =-.

  3. Congratulations on Phoenix! What a touching story!

  4. Love this! A Christmas miracle!

  5. Beautiful story. Very well written thanks for sharing. I hope little Phoenix enjoys his first Christmas.
    .-= Dutch Hollow Acres´s last blog ..Farm Store Closed until 12/28/09 =-.

  6. Thank you Katy for sharing. I needed some happy news. He’s beautiful and amazing. Give him a big ‘paca kiss’ from me and give one to the Artist too for all his efforts! Oh heck, give yourself one also cause ya know I love ya!

    Take Care and have a Merry Christmas!

  7. ::sniffle:: I’m so glad he made it! Thank you for sharing with us!

  8. Oh he is so beautiful! I am SO glad he made it! Hurray for Phoenix!!
    .-= Mrs Soup´s last blog ..First Christmas Trip =-.

  9. Wow! I’m speechless! Merry Christmas!
    .-= missjulep´s last blog ..Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland…. =-.

  10. He is a beautiful boy and what a beginning. He has now made it past the hard part, the first few days.

    Congratulations and we have a matching female when he is ready.

  11. awww and what an awesome Christmas gift too.
    .-= Tina´s last blog ..Here is what I won =-.

  12. Oh my gosh. What an amazing story. Tears are in my eyes.
    .-= Kathryn | Alpacamundo´s last blog ..Spinning Again =-.

  13. OK, I’m crying now..what a beautifully amazing story. You go Phoenix!! Everyone had a hand in making this little ones life become a reality..don’t you just love the lives we have? We never know from day to day what our farms will bring to us. I’m so happy for you. Hugs to Phoenix!! – MaLinda
    .-= Breeze Hill Farm – MaLinda´s last blog ..A Beautiful Snow! =-.

  14. What a beautiful story. He is meant to do great things for your alpaca herd. :)
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Buttercup no. 2 – USD $1,400.00 =-.

  15. glad to know miracles can happen-what a wonderful Christmas story-peace and joy to all of you
    .-= kathi´s last blog ..Christmas 2009 =-.

  16. Mac McFatter says:

    I just read the story of Phoenix’s first few minutes of life to Mary. Mary said, “She sure does have an exciting life!” New “hook” for selling people on “Alpaca for Fun and Profit” angle. It is an exciting life with never a dull moment(day)!

    Just think what might have been had the transporter arrived 30 minutes later? Phoenix is not only a fighter who rose from the ashes, but the creator is watching over him.

  17. How wonderful! And such a cutie!
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..By: Amber =-.

  18. What a sweet story! I’m so glad you didn’t give up on him! He’s beautiful! You just never know and you did have to try! Phoenix is a great name for him. Such a sweet picture of your hubby blow-drying him.
    .-= DawnK´s last blog ..The storm continues =-.

  19. What a great story, Katy, and we’re so glad it worked out! Crossing fingers for him.

  20. WELL DONE! I found a tiny foetus yesterday, so this is just the tonic I needed to read. What a beauty too. Hope he gets stronger and stronger. Happy Christmas to you and your pacas.

  21. My earlier comment just disappeared…

    Anyway…Great story, Katy! I have linked to it in our blog for our visitors as well.

    Crossing fingers for Phoenix :-)
    .-= Rolf Barbakken/Knapper Alpakka´s last blog ..Alpakka fønix =-.

  22. It was a Christmas miracle!! So glad you didn’t give up–and look how gorgeous his coloring is!! I used to raise guinea pigs and had one that was stillborn, but for some reason, I cleaned it off and gave it mouth to mouth (yeah, icky), but it came back to life and was just fine after. The feeling I got was unbelievable. That I had saved this little animal and breathed life into it! I was only 16 yrs old at the time.

  23. And congrats! :) Phoenix is the perfect name for him, what a fighter!
    .-= beth aka confusedhomemaker´s last blog ..Wrapping Presents =-.

  24. Oh mt goodness. Just found this post from your FB update today. Being another alpaca breeder, I could not believe the tale you told about Phoenix. We’ve had about 10 crias so far, and all have been uneventful. So I read with anticipation with each line of progress, the great story of Artist and kids, and the name Phoenix. What a wonderful holiday present and story!


  25. Thank you so much for sending me the link to this story. I will make sure Captain Dick reads it as well. Good for you for not giving up! :0) Phoenix is positively gorgeous! Merry Christmas!

  26. AWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Stephanie Mize says:

    What a great Christmas happening. Because he is beautiful and a FIGHTER, something special is in this alpaca’s future. I’ll just sit back and wait to see what it will be.

    You, Steve and the kids have a great Christmas and I’ll be talking to you soon.

    xoxoxo Stephanie

  28. It’s the spirit of little Pippi in action :)
    .-= Dawn´s last blog ..The quilt and the chair =-.

  29. What a heart warming Christmas miracle story! Katy you share the best stories! Hope you and your family have a continued blessed Christmas!

  30. what a cutie I hope he does well
    .-= vickie b´s last blog ..busy day today but a good day =-.

  31. roy barnard says:

    thank you GOD

  32. I am sitting here with big tears running down my face…that is a PERFECT Christmas story. What a miracle! Thanks for sharing…I’m off to find a tissue. Merry Christmas, Kim
    .-= the inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..Christmas Snow CAMEL…be careful what you ask for! =-.

  33. we are expecting our first cria in April. I hope this doesn’t happen to us, but I did learn a technique for reviving. Thank you and congratulations on your newborn! God Bless!Sammie

  34. Wiping away the tears here. What a beautiful story of hope in a little Christmas alpaca.
    .-= Melissa @ Oursuburbanhomestead´s last blog ..Merry Christmas! =-.

  35. Beautiful, both the story and Phoenix!
    Thank you for sharing :)

  36. Congradulations on Lil Pheonix! I bet he did still your heart.
    .-= Polly Gray´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

  37. OMG This is the awesomest story and I love your pictures! Yay for the great story and terrific storytelling skills!
    .-= Gwynne´s last blog ..Charlotte Yarns in the Making =-.

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