Goat milk soap, accounting for butterfat in cold process

Goat milk is an interesting addition to cold process soap.  My first surprise was just how good it is.

Between milking, building the farm, normal farm chores, etc., I’m constantly washing my hands, and that’s tough on my skin.  Winter is a bitch, especially when I’m milking in a lean-to of the barn, bare-handed in freezing cold.  That’s in addition to feeding, washing buckets, etc. bare-handed in frozen, dry air.  Even before farming, my hands would just get so dry the skin would crack, so I try to be careful about wearing gloves in cold, dry air.  That’s not an option for some of my work now.

When I started making soap, I added about 25 hand washes to my day, some of them especially rough.  Sometimes, my hands are in alkaline water, washing out soap-making equipment.  If I spill “raw” soap, my hands get a splash of vinegar (ow).  I thought my hands were going to be toast.  But I’m also testing my soaps and using them – and my hands are in better shape now than they were early winter before farming (and I don’t have time for lotion now, so they should be worse!).  I’m not using fancy soaps, just basic goat milk soap.  The milk adds some nice fats, some lactic acid, potentially some nutrients.  I guess that helps*.

Most advice I’ve gotten for soap recipes is to just substitute goat milk for water, and make the recipe as written.  The flaw in that advice is that goat’s milk isn’t water (duh).  It is water and fat (with added nutrients).  If I just add goat milk, that extra fat is part of the recipe, even if I don’t account for it.  I’m de-facto superfatting my soaps.

Sometimes that’s too rich, sometimes it’s just right.  Saponified fats are stabilized in a form that can store well without risk of rancidity.  Unsaponified fats – they’re susceptiple to decay.  So I think it’s helpful to consider what the actual fat content is. 

A side note – I make my soap by using the milk in the lye stage.  I freeze it fresh so the butterfat is well-distributed in the milk, and use it partially thawed to keep the lye bath cold (otherwise the heat of the lye bath would overheat the milk).  I believe that this process saponifies all the saponifiables in the milk from the outset.  (Superfatting means putting more fats in the soap batch than the quantity of lye used can completely convert).  I assume that the fats added earliest – when the lye is most potent – are more fully saponified.  Butterfat has a short shelf-life (how long can you keep butter in the fridge?). So I want the butterfat saponified first. 

Then I superfat by adding oils at light trace.  Those oils are ones with longer shelf life, and I always hedge my bets by adding natural “preservatives” – something that resists rancidity (rosemary oleoresin, jojoba, meadowfoam oil, vitamin e) – to try to protect the unsaponified oils.  If I don’t superfat as a separate step, I add rancidty-resistant additive to the batch of oils.  I blend the oils one more time right before adding the lye.

Superfatting is a balance between making a rich, skin-friendly soap and making a long-lasting bar.  We can’t predict what we’re doing if we don’t consider the total volume of oils in the recipe, including the milk fat.  Most calculators don’t include milk as an option, and, if they did, they would be very imprecise because milk has a huge range of butterfat percentages.

What I do is estimate the butterfat as a percent of the milk weight.  It’s the best approach I’ve found so far.  This is an imprecise science.  Lactation is dynamic – milk tends to contain more energy earlier in the day, more restful compounds later in the day; butterfat content varies with natural cycles ranging from time of day to point in lactation.  I hold some milk back from soap making, so I look at it, taste it, estimate whether it’s changing.  One of my goats is a breed that typically produces about 8% butterfat.  The visual evidence of her milk seems to agree with that estimate (next year, I’ll do milk test and have the butterfat measured).  So for a ballpak guesstimate, I use 8%.

So if my recipe calls for 40 oz of milk, that’s ~3.2 oz of butterfat (8%*40 oz.).  If I’m using 80 oz of oils, butterfat is about 3.8% of my total oils/fats (80 oz oils +3.2 oz butterfat = ~83.2 oz oils).  This may be part of why goat milk soap is so good – it’s just automatically superfatted by the simplistic advice that you just swap milk for water.  It’s also some particularly awesome fat.  But if you’re superfatting in the 0-5% range, having an extra 3.8% of oils that you didn’t plan for can really throw things off. 

On the other hand, sometimes you want to be certain your superfat level is above a minimum.  For the goat mentioned above, I calculate 5% butterfat; for another goat, I calculate 3% butterfat as the minimum. 

I’ve seen lots of questions about this, so maybe my little nugget will help other goat soapers out there.

 

* There are a lot of claims that goat milk makes good soap because goat milk has a pH similar to human skin.  That seems implausible.  The lye used to saponify the oils has a very alkaline pH, and the final product has its own pH.  To use an extreme example – If you mess up the recipe, you can get soap with a dangerously alkaline final pH (called lye-heavy, usually a result of accidentally omitting an oil) – even in a goat milk soap.  Goat milk may alter the pH of the soap recipe in a beneficial way (perhaps), but it does not magically make a soap that has a perfect pH. 

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And he’s back

Hubby saw coyote again yesterday – a little further out, still too close.  Our old farm fences are due for repairs/upgrades/replacements, which we’re working on as we go.  The fences were built for cattle and horses – animals that can stomp the heck out of a coyote in a pinch.  The creek presents a problem – we can’t find a path over it, but coyote has.  So we can’t go across the creek to fix the far fences.  Well, there’s no such thing as a coyote-proof fence, anyway, at least not here in suburban-adjacent, and not when goats sell for under $500 a head and just a perimeter fence would cost $25k (and only on this side of the creek, and not covering the creek).

So we use electric net fences when goats are out of our personal protection.  But the neighbors down the shared drainage ditch have beaver dams, and they aren’t removing them, so we have high water that nullifies electric fences.  It seems like the physical fences are just a convenient coyote stairway.  The property line he’s climbing now is too far from our existing electric fences to fortify it with a top strand, and the adjacent neighbor got all wierd on me when I talked to her about putting in electric fence.  If she has issues with it, the electric strand will have to be within our property line, which means coyote can stand on the mesh fence and try to jump over the electric fence to avoid the zap.  Sometimes it’s harder farming when the neighbors don’t farm.  The neighbors don’t need fences, so don’t want to share the cost or effort; they aren’t protecting livestock, so they don’t care if poor fences put livestock at risk.  So much for “exclusive farm use” zoning.

We’ve had coyotes show up twice in a row before – the second chase got his head screwed on right, and we didn’t see him for many months after.  So I don’t know if this second sighting means he’s just double-checking our guard-dog; he’s so hungry he won’t be dissuaded; or he got a nice snack and now we’ll never get rid of him alive.  (If a coyote finds out you’re running a nice diner, he’ll want to be your best customer.)  So, not to be melodramatic, but we’re now on Coyote Watch: 2013.  Which makes chores go a little slower, I’m constantly looking out at possible coyote approaches.

The chickens, to their credit, hauled tail-feather out of the danger zone both times.  So maybe these heritage breeds do have a lick of sense that wasn’t bred out of them.

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Coyote, again

I guess the cold weather makes coyotes think about snuggling up with a warm, dead chicken.  Our little neighbor showed up again this afternoon.  I have large fowl that are supposed to alert on dangers – not a pip.  I have a guard llama (in her defense, she was on the other side of the barn) – nothin’.  It’s the way it always is – I have to be Johnny on the Spot for coyote visits.

I’m making goat milk soap, so I was holed up in the house, and I had just sat down to rest my back.  The chickens started squawking – chickens are always squawking about something.  I ignored them for just a moment, then some reptilian part of my brain noticed that there were more than 3 chickens making that high-pitched really annoyed noise – normal squawking only has one or two chickens doing that.  Instinct sent me running out the door instead of just a peek out the window, and, sure enough, that doggone coyote was between the house and the barn, again.  In broad daylight, again.  And I chased him to the far side of the property, again.  I am our official electric fence tester (Ow! Yep, it’s working!), handyman, and guard dog.  Strikes me as the farming equivalent of using a stiletto heel as a hammer – not the best tool for the job, but it does work.

Then I came huffing back up the hill to count fingers and toes.  No blood anywhere, no one limping or acting “off.”  Whew.  And all the hens – all 50 some of them – were tucked into the barn or the barnyard, roo standing just outside the fence, doing his job, standing between hens and danger.  When I went into the barn for toe-counting, a cluster of chickens hiding under the goat hay panicked, all squawks and squalls and flapping and running.  Roo followed me back to the house, stood there awkwardly on one foot.  Panic, oh, he’s hurt.  Then he hopped onto his other foot – I guess he’s trying to keep one foot warm?  He stood looking at me for a minute, then went back to his chickeny work, hunting around for something to eat.

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Computer troubles

WordPress stopped playing nicely with firefox, so I haven’t been able to log in to post those pictures of the feeders and fenceposts.  I finally set it up with another browser, connected my phone to load the pictures, and my phone died.  So I’ll have to retake the pictures.  But I promise, they are coming.

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Hmmm, says the alpaca

I guess our little cria is growing up.  I went to gather eggs and found his mom in the barn, humming in annoyance.  See, alpacas only have two words or so to their language – hum, or bark.  The bark is for danger, like when the world’s cutest dog comes in sight.  The hum is for everything else.

Supposedly, alpaca humming is lovely.  It’s a peaceful, soothing sound.  I haven’t met those alpacas.  Our alpacas mostly hum in annoyance, like an alarm clock buzzer. 

Hmmmm, I see we’re having hay, again.  Would it kill you to learn a new recipe? 

Hmmm, dinner is late.  I don’t care what time you have scheduled, I’m here now so I should be fed now.

Hmm, I see you still have goats.  Really?  Goats?

And then there’s the mama hum – urgent, worried, upset.  It’s a bleating hum when baby goes for weigh in or health check out of mama’s sight.  Hmm!  Hmm!  Hmm!  Or if baby goes around a corner.  Hmm!  The whole pack gets anxious.

But today’s hum was the Jewish mama hum – like she thinks he’s going to marry a shiksa.  Annoyed, not panicky, urgent, but emotional urgency rather than fear. 

Sure enough, baby was down in the pasture, not the least concerned for mama’s worries.  And I’m soft-hearted, so I encouraged mama to go join him, but she wouldn’t.  I didn’t have time to go round him up, so I called him “Teddy!”  His head popped up.  “Teddy!  Come here!”  The entire herd came running, Teddy leading the charge at full speed, eyes glittering.

The grown alpacas, from a large farm where they lived without much human contact, have been less-than-endearing.  Irritable hums, don’t-touch-me glares, gradual warming along the lines of an Alaskan thaw – no longer frozen, not quite warm.  Mama paca has come around more than the others.  But Teddy is really bringing me around on alpacas.  He seems to have a genuine zest for life.  He’s still the first out the doors in the morning, happy to see the sun rise.

A friend of mine beat cancer, one of those types that make careless people remind everyone “the odds aren’t good on that one.”  One dark day in the early treatment phase, before treatment and time allowed doctors to declare him cured, he was complaining.  I asked him if anything good had happened.  He said sarcastically “well, I woke up and I wasn’t dead.”  “That sounds like a pretty good thing.”  Pause.  “Yeah, I guess it is.”  Some creatures need to cheat death to appreciate the simple blessing of waking up alive yet again, but Teddy treats every morning like a special blessing, like the sun rose just to warm him, and the pasture greened for his pleasure, and he can’t wait to go out there and thank them.  He starts his day sneaking out the door ahead of everyone else, just looking at the beautiful world with glittering eyes.  Then he goes back inside and waits for the rest of the herd to gather themselves for a lovely day.  For him, they’re all lovely days.

When I left today, Teddy was nursing, easing mama’s full udder, oxytocin flowing along with milk.  After all her humming and unhappiness at his absence, silence.  She stood atop a hill, peaceful, blocking the path happily while her baby nursed.  He still loves her, even if he does marry that shiksa.

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The cheap, quick, easy hay feeder I want to retire

HaybunkEndwHaybunkEndwIn my previous post, I explained why I want to replace my hay feeder.  But a very experienced goat person thought it was pretty clever, and it does work okay, and it was definitely cheap, so I’m going to share the design and very simple assembly.  I don’t recommend this design, but it’s easy and handy if you want to split off a group for a little while and don’t want to spend a lot.  The result is ~50″ x ~30″ three-sided hay feeder.  That’s enough space free-choice for 16 goats who are very easy-going or 8 goats crowding around as you fill it.  We’ve put 10 goats on it with only mild shoving but no outright fights while they were changing the pecking order.

Price: about $15 each if you make 2, $25 if you throw away the unused half of the cattle panel

Cattle panel, 16′ L, use 1/2 – routinely $20 when they go on sale at any of our local farm stores (add $10 for gas for the truck if you want really accurate price info)

Furring strip, 8′, use 2 or 3, about $2@, so $4-6

Fence wire, staples, chain are probably around the farm, if not, add $10 for metal strapping and $5 for tek screws and you will have plenty left to use for anything and everything

Bend it

First, start with a whole cattle panel.  Carefully bend one end to the mid-point, and tie it off with heavy wire, zip ties, or the like.  Once it’s secured in a loop, cut off the other half (cut after bending – you use the extra length as leverage and to make it easier to bend).  I stood on the panel to hold it steady while bending it, and, for convenience, used key ring loops to hold it because they were handy.  The panels are hard to bend, and you want to bend it, NOT fold it (loop rather than corners).

Secure it

Take a lightweight piece of wood, and securely attach the hoop to the wood.  I used fencing staples (they were handy).  Metal strapping would be better.  Attach it at the junction where the ends meet, so it holds the loop of cattle panel closed.

Hanging it

Mount it to the ceiling or other support with chain looped inside the wood AND the junction of the panels.  If the ends were to get loose from the wood, the chain would hold them up and keep them from flipping down and hitting the goats.

Close the ends

Cut a scrap of wood to the width of the loop plus 1″.  Cut a groove into the wood on each end, and slip it over the end of the loop.  Secure with strapping, screws, or whatever is handy.  Or leave it loose, but know that the feeder won’t last as long.  Repeat about 6″ higher, and then repeat on the other end.  The wood closes the ends and keeps the hoop from getting pulled and turned into an oval.

Now it will swing of the goats push on it.  I secured one end with twine to keep it from swinging around.  It would have been better to secure both ends (i.e., add a set of supports from the ceiling connecting a little lower than the top on each side).

Add something to the inside bottom to keep hay from falling out the bottom.  I’m using a scrap of stall mat, but I’d prefer to use corrugated plastic which would fit the curve better.  Or furring strips (little skinny pieces of lumber) or even use a steel barn siding panel – but you’ll have to completely cover the sharp edge.  Or, use a much more expensive all-stock panel – like a cattle panel, but with tighter wire spacing – for the hoop, and cut out head holes.

Pictures to follow

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Simplifying chores: Goat hay feeder

I’m looking to streamline things.  One area that is wasteful is hay feeding, both in labor and in wasted hay.

We started with hay bowls – water troughs that we filled with hay.  Goats LOVE them – as beds.  We finally left the troughs as beds, retaining one for the alpacas’ hay.  When the goat kids were tiny, they would sneak into the alpaca stall to sleep in the hay bowl.  There is nothing better – to a goat – than a nice draft-resistant nook with a soft bed that you can eat.  It’s like the goat equivalent of having a beer fridge for an end table.  (Yes, goats are basically renecks, and, yes, they were raised in a barn.)

Our first effort at upgrading the hay feeder was a simple half-cattle-panel folded into a loop and hung from the rafters.  I freaked out about manure in the hay one day and slapped it together out of what we had on hand.  Honestly, I meant it to be a one-week solution and I’m surprised it’s held up rather well.  Works pretty well for what it is, but we get a lot of wasted hay.

Goats waste hay.  That’s just a reality.  So the goal isn’t to eliminate hay waste – to do that, we’d have to feed strictly pelletized hay or strike a deal with satan himself – the goal is to reduce waste and allow us to load a lot of hay at one time to reduce labor, too.  The current feeder started out wide enough to load a small bale, but the goats have pulled on it until the top narrowed a lot.  Now it’s more of a tear-drop shape than a tube.

The cattle panel feeder was a good interim step.  I’ve found that the goats mostly keep their heads inside while eating, which is good at reducing waste.  With other feeders, they grab a mouthful, pull their head out – stringing loose hay behind them – and it falls to the floor.  For about a month, we had to remove all overhead feeders – which meant the cattle panel hay bunk – and our hay usage skyrocketed.  So it’s reducing some waste.  And I initially thought they’d just pull a mouthful through the holes in the panel, but, with the panel oriented sideways, they stick their entire heads through the holes.

The reason the current feeder wastes hay is because the bottom has large holes.  The goats are picky about hay, so we line the bottom of the feeder with crappy grass hay, and it holds the good hay in until the goats suddenly get a yen for crappy grass hay and eat everything in sight.  I think we’re on the right track with it, just needs some tweaks.

I had been thinking that I need some sort of v-shaped feeder.  I’m beginning to think that would be a step backwards.  The goats want to see what’s going on, so if the loaded hay obstructs their view, they’re going to pull out for a look around, stringing hay behind them and wasting it.

Now I’m thinking I need to keep the area above the hay open to view, but closed enough to make it inconvenient for them to pull their heads out (and keep them from climbing inside).  Or, conversely, comfortable enough so the lazy goats would rather keep their heads stuffed in while they pig out.  So something like cattle panel sides, a closed bottom, and large enough to drop a bale of hay in without obstructing visibility above the hay.  I haven’t come up with a clever way to close off the bottom of the cattle panel tube.  I tried a scrap of screen, but a goat got her head stuck in it, so that came out immediately.  Chicken wire or the like would leave lots of rough edges right where the goats are sticking their necks.  Wood slats might get heavy.

One thing that works nicely with the current feeder is that the goats can use it on three sides, so they share nicely without fighting.  I’d like to keep that in the design.  Another thing that works nicely is that the feeder hangs from the ceiling, so it doesn’t take too much space.

In the short-term, I’m adding a scrap of stall mat type material to the bottom.  I think furring strips – really light wood, like a 1/2 x2″ plank – might work.

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Plug-in battery backup Electric fence charger vs solar

I made a mistake at the farm store, and bought a battery-powered fence charger.  It was very frustrating because I’d gotten help from a store employee and finished with “Is there anything else I need to start using this fence today?” and the employee said “No.”  I didn’t have a battery, because I didn’t know they came in battery only options.  Got home, tried to hook it up, couldn’t figure out why it had such a funny power plug. 

So I ended up converting it into a 110/battery fence.  I got a battery – went to the auto parts store and asked for their cheapest battery.  They sent me home with a motorcycle/snowmobile battery, and I opened the box and found a bottle in it – diy battery.  I put acid into the battery, charged it up, put the battery on a Battery Tender (a trickle charger), and hooked it up to the fencer.  Our barn electrical system looks kind of scary, so we cut the fuse box off at night.  The fence battery charges all day (as needed) on the battery tender, and the battery keeps the fence going 24/7.  (They’re designed to run a week or two off a battery charge.)  A deep cycle boat battery would be better, but the cheapo is good enough and works with the cheapo junior battery tender.

While figuring this all out, I found myself over by the farm store (without the battery unit on hand to return it) and bought a solar charger to get us through.  It’s always a good idea to have a spare, anyway.  We use that for locations where we don’t have electric line available yet.  It was the first electric fence we ever used.  It grounded out on weeds and put out a weak zap.

Now I’m kind of glad I made that first mistake and got a battery fencer.  I don’t have to put the fence charger where I have reliable power, and I don’t have to worry about a coyote getting in during a power outage and then getting trapped inside when the power comes back on.  But, and this is a big but, batteries can be dangerous.  So I need to get the fence battery into an enclosure, just to be sure that it can’t hurt us or the critters if it fails catastrophically.  And the nature of our usage – drain slightly overnight, charge during the day, drain more if the fence grounds out – makes me prefer a refillable battery.  Since they’re designed to be filled, the fluid level is visible from the outside and we can see if the drain/charge cycles are causing it to dry out.

I’m planning to use a 5-gallon bucket as the battery enclosure, I use those suckers for everything.  The  bucket can provide at least some containment if the battery spews acid, but I need to put a strap over the lid so it can’t blow off, and there definitely needs to be vent holes so air can escape rather than building pressure inside.  But, of course, the vent holes need to be small enough that the enclosure won’t become a mouse house.  I’m in for a lot of drilling.

The solar chargers have a reputation for going bad quick.  I think it’s because they get wet, as in ground moisture penetrating the bottom when the system is designed to withstand falling rain.  And solar panels wear out.  I try to keep it on a post, off the ground, but the nature of its portability makes it sit on the ground sometimes.  There are t-post mounts available, but that never seems to work out for us.  The non-solar battery unit is semi-portable, and it resists a decent amount of weeds/dew, plus it puts out a real solid zap.  If I wanted to make it solar, I could add a solar battery maintainer – and the battery would be replaceable (and I could throw it on a charger during prolonged overcast weather), and the solar panel would be replaceable.  When our solar charger eventually dies, I’ll replace it with another battery fence charger, and just build a solar-panel charger system for it, with the whole system connected via a 5-gallon bucket (battery inside, power lines feeding up through the bottom, lid snapped on, use the bucket handle to hang it off the ground).

On the other hand, some fence chargers are rated for indoor use only. (?!!)  They would be just as susceptible to weather damage as the solar chargers.  Barns can have very outdoorsy atmospheric conditions, too, so it’s probably a good idea to house the charger inside an enclosure in the barn if it’s not weatherproof (the charger OR the barn!).

Sometimes, it feels like farming isn’t rocket-science, but that’s just because rocket science isn’t this complex.  Indoor, outdoor, 30 miles (but really only a few thousand feet), impedance, volatage, grounding…  Lots to learn. 

Grounding rods

And I keep reading that grounding rods are the key to the whole thing.  I’ve got a grounding rod near the hose, so I can dump stagnant bucket water onto the grounding rod before cleaning water buckets.  Keeps it nice and moist.  Works alright with just one, but I recently picked up a couple tips…

If the ground is dry, put a 5-gallon bucket of water over the grounding rod, with a small leak.  It will drip-hydrate the grounding rod.

Put the grounding rods at least 10′ apart, or else they’re basically a single grounding rod (rats, I’ve got to measure and see if I have to pull 2 8′ grounding rods out of hard, rocky soil).  Keep them at least 50′ from other grounding rods (like for the building electric panel), underground plumbing, etc.

Sometimes, a t-post and metal fence is a good enough ground for a portable fencer.  I’m using one right now to fence off the compost pile.  Without physically testing it, I wouldn’t use that technique for a critical fence, but it works where a fence breach would be non-catastrophic.  And it highlights why t-posts are always grounding out electric fence (broken insulator, line zigging over the insulator, etc.).

Dry and frozen soil don’t conduct energy well, so a grounding rod needs to penetrate below the frost line and into the moist subsoil to be most effective. 

Grounding rods should be 3′ per joule of output.  My Magnum 12 charger puts out 3 joules, so I need 9′ of grounding rod in the ground.  See previous tip – better to use two 6′ rods than three 3′ rods.

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Careful when you hug a goat

In the morning, I put down alfalfa for the moms and babies, leave them eat it while I do other chores, then start milking.

This morning, despite getting an earlier start than usual, Bean could not wait to be milked.  She nibbled a little alfalfa for the road, then literally raced to the milkstand.  So I shifted the order of things, let her in, and started milking.  I have a homemade vacuum milker for the job, using a large syringe as the teat tube.  Bean practically squirted her milk out, flowing so fast that the tubing couldn’t keep up.  When the syringe starts filling up, we squeeze the teat a smidge to allow air in, flush the backlog, and then milking continues apace.  Most mornings, it’s not a problem, some mornings I do it once or thrice, this morning, it was the rule.  Absolutely the fastest I have ever milked her, wish I’d timed it.

So I got through morning chores a little faster.  And that made me happy.  And I praised her throughout, and realized I was done cleaning up around the time I’d usually be switching the milker to the second teat, so I hugged her.  Poor girl was startled! 

I don’t know where this morning’s perfection came from, but I’d sure be happy if it continues.

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Stotting and smiling

Stotting – Pronking – Pronging

Alpacas and other animals have a playful run where their steps are all hops, all four feet in the air, bouncing from one place to another like someone tied a pogo stick under them.  I’ve always known it as pronking, but stotting seemed a better title (so as not to make people think I’m swearing).

Such a strange word for such a lovely behavior – exuberant, youthful hop-running.  Our couple-month-old alpaca cria came down to the newly-enlarged pasture segment to find two delightful things – a familiar space, and more space with fresh new growth.  They don’t spread their lips into a grin, but that alpaca boy was smiling. 

He’s good suri stock, so his hair is forming little braid-like locks that bounce and shimmer.  He’s especially lovely in motion, the way a full silk skirt demands to be twirled.  He creates his own air resistance, blowing the locks back and swaying them, shining as he moves.

I told hubby that I swore our boy smiled, and he said “oh, yes, his eyes glitter.”  So he knows the smile.  (Our little teddy bear loves the world.)  And then hubby came down to help me fix a small problem with the fence, the cria came back to the pasture, and exercise time commenced.  The cria ran fast to the new fenceline, identified its location, and turned to run the full length of his new playground.  He pronked back halfway, to where hubby was working, and hopped to the top center of the hillock hubby was working on.  He spent a moment smiling at hubby, in the middle of the work zone so he knew he had his full attention, then ran and pronked back to the fenceline. 

He practiced all of his running skills – galloping so fast it’s hard to control his (still-new) head at the end of his long neck, then running fast but under full control, then pronking over to hubby for another smile, lap after lap. 

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