Last fall Jamie and I were working in the lab together and sharing ideas and stories as we often do. The topic of household cleaners came up for probably the umpteenth time –we are very passionate in this particular area. The difference in this conversation and the ones before it is that the dryer ball as an alternative to fabric softener came into existence. I’m sure a typical person would look for a local business that sales them, but being the all or nothing types of people that we both are, Jamie said “Christie you need alpacas!” And I immediately said, “YES! Start researching so we can get some for the farm.” And thus the road to bringing alpacas was forged.
We found a distant farm that had several for sale and we made a special trip to visit and learn all there was to know about this gentle breed of animals. The first thing we found was alpacas are not generally very cheap animals to have. Another example that we are both go big or go home type of people. The second thing we learned is these guys are surprisingly small. They are basically long-necked goats. In addition to these facts we learned about their pregnancies, grooming needs, feeding habits, and housing preferences. The herd had just been bred and we anxiously awaited the news on if our preferred females took with babies. Sadly, we soon found out that none of them were with cria (the name for a baby alpaca.) We were both sorely disappointed but we both have faith that things happen as they need to and we put our faith and prayers in God.
I felt like I should take this extra time given to me to prepare my farm better for their arrival and we made an appointment to come out and visit the farm again in the spring to learn more about shearing and grooming them. We made that trek again in April and we’ve shared that surprisingly disappointing visit on our Facebook page.
It was beginning to look as if our dream of having alpacas on the farm wasn’t going to happen but wouldn’t you know it, the very next day after that fateful trip, I heard about an upcoming local livestock auction happening in just a few days! I just love when God surprises me like that. Our hunt for a couple of alpacas quickly escalated to four; two boys and two girls, a brand new bottle-fed scottish highland calf, and a miniature zebu cow who was due to have a baby any day! Babies, babies everywhere!
It’s been four months since our new additions and admittedly its been a learning curve. Our four special alpacas were essentially rescued from farms that no longer wanted or needed them. So they didn’t come ready to receive the love Jamie and I have to give to them. I spent the majority of the first few weeks being spit on anytime I got near Fred. And wouldn’t you know he is the cutest and the one both of us are dying to hug and cuddle. Bucky came to us needing a dental visit and we haven’t found anyone who can help us out in that department just yet. Hershey is absolutely beautiful but she stays the furthest from our reach. And our sweet Nellie hasn’t a shy bone in her frail little body. We have been working on fattening her up a bit more. They haven’t been as clean as alpacas are known for being which has been the most challenging but we are figuring it out. Fred has stopped spitting on me – mostly. He enjoys my singing as long as I have food in my hands and he has even allowed me to pet him a little as he eats. When he has had enough he lets me know by folding his ears back quickly, cocking his head up slightly, and shows me his cud-chewing as a warning. It’s quite comical actually as long as he doesn’t actually spit on me.
We had them sheered within a day or two of them arriving to the farm because we didn’t want them to overheat. In all the madness we didn’t save any of the fleece for our own dryer balls. So Jamie is looking forward to next spring. And who knows, we might have a baby cria by then as well.