Adventures

Welcome Pigpen! Our New Cria

Posted on

Most baby alpacas, or cria as they are called, are born in summer, but last fall we went on a holiday and our farm-sitter accidentally left a gate unlatched one day, and so one of our female alpacas get pregnant. Eleven-and-a-half months later, we waited with great anticipation for this little guy to be born! 😀 Here he is, less than a half hour old!

He was born at 4 pm and temperature was zero degrees Celcius, with a slight breeze! What a time to be born! I had come home and saw Miss Uki acting a little strange and by the time I went to the house, had a quick bite to eat and got back out again, he was born!

He was all wet and started shivering, so I went to the house and got some clean cloths to dry him off. I put a facecloth on his back temporarily to keep him warm!

Even though he is our 5th cria, it’s the first time I’ve been there right after birth. His instinct to nurse was immediate. It’s amazing! He was making sucking faces and looking up. He was shivering so I helped him stand up. He started looking around for where he could get something to eat. They have the instinct to look for somewhere dark, and out in a sunny field, their momma’s underside is the only dark place. So he started looking there! I stood back and watched but he didn’t seem to be really finding her teats and latching on.

I decided I should try to help, but every time I got close, his momma would turn and face me and if I got too close, she’d spit at me! She’s so protective! The other two girls, Daisy and Marley, were coming in to check him out too, and Miss Uki spit on them too. They were interfering with the little guy’s ability to nurse, since Miss Uki kept moving & spitting!! So I tried to separate them out, but it’s pretty hard for one person to move two alpacas who have no desire to be separated from their friends!!

I decided that at least I could move the cria over to the barn to get out of the breeze. Of course, everyone followed! Isn’t he adorable?

I had done some research and prepared for this day by putting extra straw in the barn and making him a little coat. I found the rough shape of a pattern online and the measurements from a store that sells cria coats. I had some thick polyester fleece, some thin quilted fabric, and my mom gave me some fabric to use as the windproof, water-repellent outer layer. I put the coat on a small heater to warm it up. He perked up so much after we put it on him!

The first couple of hours are so critical for a new one to get a good drink from his momma. Her milk has essential nutrients and immune factors that the cria needs. Miss Uki is an ornery alpaca, and VERY protective, so every time I tried to point him in the right direction to get some milk, she would turn and face me and spit. I tried repeatedly but I realized I might not be helping! So, I had to let him find it on his own. I was pretty nervous since last year, our cria Frankie could not find his momma’s milk and we ended up bottle feeding him for 7 weeks! Yikes, that’s a lot of work! And he was not as vibrant as he would have been if he’d been nursing. So, this cria born in fall REALLY needed his momma’s milk for all the energy to stay warm and grow!

Luckily, as long as I stayed far enough away, Miss Uki stood still and eventually it looked like the little fella found the milk! His head was at a good angle… he seemed to be suckling… he was under there a long time… he is nursing! Yay!

That first night it went down to -12 C! I got up at 1 am to check on him, to make sure he wasn’t shivering or getting hypothermia. He was pretty warm, and since I disturbed the alpacas and Miss Uki stood up, the little guy went straight to her for a drink! Double yay!

On day two, he had lots of energy, and after a few days, he even started tasting grass!

We always wait a few days before we give a cria a name. He is pure white like his papa, Boeing, and on his second day in the world, he was already finding ways to get dirty, like his papa! So we named him Pigpen, after the character in the Charlie Brown cartoons who was always a mess!

Boeing was very interested in how his offspring was doing. I’ve never seen a papa as interested as this. He often stands by the gate or fence closest to wherever the girls are.

It’s been over a month, and now we have lots of snow. Pigpen outgrew his first coat so I made him another one! I used alpaca fibre I have on hand, sheared from his momma, to insulate the coat. 😊

I just can’t believe how hardy and amazing crias are. He is exploring the world, running around and tasting new things. The cold does not seem to bother him so far. On day 2, we gave him a pink neckwarmer to help prevent heat loss. He’s so spunky, still tries to get away when we have to adjust his coat. He leaped all over when we gave him the new coat yesterday! But he also still comes nose-to-nose with me every day, and gives me a sniff. We even have a game we play where he follows/chases me, then he runs away. Then I turn around and chase him, not that I could catch him!! Then I run away, as fast as my ankle will allow (I sprained it this summer). And so on for 4 or 5 times. It is, undoubtedly, the highlight of my day! 😄

Thanks for reading! I will be blogging more now that winter is here, and I’ll let you know how Pigpen does! 😀

Forest Safety After a Forest Fire

Posted on

I have been watching the forest fire situation closely, since the town of High Level (my former stomping grounds) was evacuated due to a huge fire blazing close by. The evacuation order was lifted and everyone returned to the town, but I still get twice-daily updates from the forest fire information officers working up there.

Today, they sent an interesting blurb I would like to share. This is copied straight from the email, and is very useful for anyone who wants to go hiking in the woods after a fire. If this sounds like you, keep reading:

Use Extreme Caution in Burnt Forested Areas: The picture below shows a section of the forest that has been burnt over. For anyone who enjoys walking through the forest, there are several dangers that are present in a burnt over area that you should be aware of including:

Ash Pits: In areas where there is a deep forest floor or around large trees with vast root systems, wildfires can burn deep into the ground. In some of these areas, the ash accumulates in the hole and leaves the appearance that the hole is level ground. This causes not only trip and fall hazards but also a potential burn hazard if the lower section of the pit still contains fire or embers and a passerby happens to step/fall into it.

Danger Trees: Trees, in some cases, can burn up through the centre leaving only a narrow section of the trunk actually holding the tree up. These trees then become a hazard as they are very prone to falling over either just over time or when pushed by the wind. Trees can also become unstable if the wildfire burns into the layers of the earth and consumes a tree’s roots, leaving the tree standing with very little support.


Photo source unknown.

Back from Baffin Island

Posted on Updated on

Hello everyone! I made it back from Baffin Island, safe and sound. Well, mostly sound. I might lose a toenail, but if that’s all, I’m not complaining!

It was a PHENOMENAL trip! The women on the trip were amazing, and we saw some incredible, remote scenery. The physical aspects were challenging but not impossible, and there were unexpected challenges along the way. I don’t want to give it all away, but I DO want to share some photos!

Iqaluit, Nunuvut

We flew from Ottawa to Iqaluit, the transportation hub for Nunuvut, but due to bad weather at our destination, we got stranded in Iqaluit! We thought we were going to have to camp in the airport — an acceptable solution since all the hotel rooms in town were booked, and we had all our camping gear — but then we got to stay in the army barracks that are there!

Iqaluit - military transport
The military came with a very cool track vehicle to get us (and some regular trucks).
Iqaluit - room in the PAB
My room in the PAB. Small, but perfect.

The military men were very helpful and hospitable. They often help stranded travelers. The next day, the weather improved, and we flew out with no problems.

We started in Qikiqtarjuak, NU

You can call it Qik, for short (pronounced “kick”).

Qik - First Air ATR43 acft
The aircraft that took us to Qik (it’s an ATR43). The front half is cargo and the back half is where the people go!

Qik - Walking on the bay
Walking on the frozen bay. You can see some of the houses and mountains that surround the community.
Qik across the bay
Looking at Qik across the bay from the hotel. The whole community is less than 600 people.
Qik - Tulugak Inn
The Tulugak Inn, of the “Inns North” chain. Qikiqtarjuak used to be called Broughton Island.
Qik - Looking out the window
Looking out the window of the hotel
Qik - Komatiks
Packing the qamutiiks (“comb-a-ticks”) for the ride to the trailhead. Snowmobiles are off to the right of the photo.

We rode the Qamutiks pulled by skidoos, to the trail head. It was the bumpiest ride of my life!

That’s all for now! More photos to come!

If you haven’t yet, you can still sponsor me!
Click here! Thank you!

On my Way to Baffin Island

Posted on Updated on

Sorry I haven’t blogged lately. I have been so busy getting ready for my trip to Baffin Island! I am in Ottawa now, with a little spare time, and tomorrow we leave for Nunuvut.

I am so excited to be going to this part of Canada! It’s remote, beautiful, rugged and — did I already say “remote?” There is something in my blood that makes me want to travel to the ends of the Earth, to see things few have seen, and experience things few ever will.

And that’s what I’m doing now! I am taking all kinds of personal risks to have a really unique Canadian experience. A few people have called me brave — usually after finding out I’ll be sleeping in -20 to -30 C, or that there will be polar bears. I don’t see myself as brave. I just keep my eyes open for opportunities and then take them when they come along. I just do what’s in front of me to do. And I guess I’ve been lucky to have some interesting things come along in front of me!

I don’t mean to sound passive, or downplay what I’m doing. But I’m no hero, either! I am nervous about some parts of it! I know I may be uncomfortable for days on end. I am doing it anyways.

I bought Brene Brown’s book “Braving the Wilderness” and I’m going to start reading it tonight! It should be the perfect book for the trek I’m about to do!

Wish me luck, everyone! HUGE BIG thank you’s to everyone who has sponsored me for this fundraiser! You rock, really. And if you haven’t sponsored me yet, go do it now!! Here’s the link! Love you guys!

Trying out my super-warm sleeping bag
Good down to -32 C… tested at +20 C!! 😛

CBC Radio Interview

I got interviewed by Mark Connolly a couple days ago! Go check it out!
http://www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?audioId=15683239

Good News! I Don’t Think I’ll Freeze on Baffin Island

Posted on Updated on

My day job involves a lot of weather information, and today, I was teaching my trainees about weather models. Environment Canada has a page with several on them, and we use them to give pilots weather info beyond 24 hours. Like any forecast, there’s no guarantee, but we can be fairly accurate as long as we stay within 48 hours.
I don’t know how they do it, but Environment Canada also creates some rather long-term forecasts. I stumbled on this one, below, and it made my heart sing!

Temperature probability Feb-April

It’s not the best news for Western Canada — looks like it’s going to be cooler than normal — but check out Baffin Island! Right where I’m going, it’s going to be WARMER than normal! There is an 80-90% chance! Normal temperatures for this part of Baffin Island range from -5 C to -25 C.

In case you’re not clear on where I am going snowshoeing, I’ve made a map:
Baffin Island

See how there is a red patch right on that part of Baffin Island?! Yay! I’m super excited to be going anyway, and now I know it’s not likely to be TOO cold, so that makes it even better. I bought a sleeping bag rated to -32 C on the weekend, along with an expedition parka that is incredibly warm! Things are coming together! 😀

Raising Funds

Posted on Updated on

Hi everyone! Sometimes when I tell people about my snowshoeing expedition — read all about it here — they are really shocked to find out I am raising $50,000 for the charity, True Patriot Love.
It’s a big amount, isn’t it? Most people who raise money for charities or medical causes (cancer research, etc) have much more modest goals. But these groups have LARGE numbers of people fundraising, so each individual doesn’t have to raise that much.
There are only 20 (or so) of us coming on the snowshoeing trip to Baffin Island. More people isn’t practical, really. We have to ride snowmobiles to get to the trailhead. You just can’t move 100 people that way , particularly not in the far north where communities are smaller and resources are more limited. Yet, True Patriot Love funds MANY programs across Canada throughout a year. So, our goal is $600,000 dollars, but it is only spread out across 12 people. Of the total of 20 of us, a few are guides and the rest are military and they are not expected or required to fundraise very much. This trip is meant to be more of an treat, and to show our appreciation to them, and to start mentoring each other.
So, if you do the math — I’ll do it for ya! 🙂 — each of us needs to raise $50,000 ($50,000 x 12 = $600,000). So THAT is why I have such a big goal! True Patriot Love supplies funding for so many programs across Canada, they need the money and there aren’t many of us going on the trip. They do have other fundraising activities throughout the year, which adds to their annual budget, but they don’t exactly do 20 of these expeditions a year! They are few, and I feel very lucky and special to be able to join in on this one.

In other news… I passed my medical this week, so it just got a lot more real! Apparently, I’m healthy! I mean, I have aches and pains occasionally, like anyone, but I’m healthy enough to go on this trip. They were checking some interesting things like “Mean Corpuscular Volume.” I have no idea what that is, but wikipedia says it is the average size of a red blood cell. Good to know! Apparently, mine are normal! 🙂

That’s all for now! I’ll include my fundraising link again! If your budget will allow, please be generous! Here’s a little more math: if all my donations are $20, I will need 2500 donors! That’s not realistic. If my friends gave $100, I would still need 500 friends. So, give as much as you can and enter the ranks of the elite givers! 😀 You guys rock! I have a few other fundraising ideas up my sleeve, which I’ll announce soon.

Take care, everyone! And happy #BellLetsTalk day!

My Next BIG Adventure

Posted on Updated on

There’s a reason this blog is entitled Adventures With Teresa! As most if you know, every now and then, I seem to find myself having some seriously unique adventures! This time, it’s really big!

It all started when I got a subscription to Explore magazine. Reading about other people’s adventures is so much fun, and it makes me want to go on my own! img_0335Over Christmas, I was catching up on past issues of Explore, and I read a really great article about a man and his Husky dog who walked the Akshayuk Pass, on Baffin Island. They went 200 km! The dog had his own little sled to pull — it was very cute and the dog looked like he was having the time of his life! Then, in the next Explore mag, I saw an article about a canoe trip involving military soldiers, veterans and regular people. It sounded like they had an amazing trip. With all my canoe experience, I could imagine them bonding around the campfire.
The canoe trip was organized by an organization called True Patriot Love. I had never heard of them, so I went to their website. They fundraise to support military and veterans services. I clicked on the “Get Involved” tab, abd then I saw “Expeditions.” So of course I had to click on that! The very first thing I saw was an all-women Snowshoeing expedition on Baffin Island, traversing the Akshayuk Pass — the one I just read about!! Oh man. I LOVE snowshoeing, and as I kept reading about it, I become hooked! This would be sooo fun!
I told Darren about it. He said, “so, um, if it’s all women, you don’t need me to come, right?” He is the love of my life and we are two peas in a pod, but he just doesn’t quite share my (ridiculous? Crazy?) love for big adventures!!
baffin island and tent
So, long story short: I contacted True Patriot Love. They still had room and were happy to have me join. Last weekend, I flew to southern Ontario to meet a bunch of the ladies and the main guide. I had a great time, so I am IN! Woo hoo! It’s not all fun and games, ur, snowshoeing, however! I am FUNDRAISING to support True Patriot Love. Each civilian going has been asked to raise $50,000! If you would like to help support our soldiers and veterans — and their families — in their physical and mental health, please go to my fundraising page! I am paying all my own expenses for this trip, so all the money you donate is tax refundable and goes straight to the cause. 😀

Stay tuned for more posts! I am already training for the trip, which for now is essentially going snowshoeing several times a week. I will keep you updated as things unfold. I have lots of gear to buy (like a sleeping bag rated to -40C! Gasp!) and many, many adventures to come!
img_0331