Monday, 20 June 2016

Our Alpacas

Hello all,

It's hard to believe we have had our little alpaca herd for five years already. Our number is still at seven, but that is counting births, deaths and sales. It has been an interesting adventure, to say the least.

I grew up on a farm, but we raised cattle - not fiber animals. It wasn't until I was in my early 40's that I wanted to invest in livestock that didn't have to be sold regularly to make money. Being the crafty person that I am, I was more interested in animals I could keep for years and just harvest the fiber. As I started doing some research, I fell in love with alpacas. They were more my size, easy to care for and quite entertaining at times.

I learned about the fencing they need, the food they eat and how much space was needed for a small herd. To my surprise they needed a lot less space than I initially thought, which made them perfect for an acreage. We already had a fenced area in place which had initially been for the horses, so all we did was replace the barbed wire with page wire.

One thing I quickly learned was that they were escape artists. We had put them in a temporary area before we had the big pen ready, and they quickly figured out how to get out. Imagine my horror when they ran straight to the highway, which is a busy one. Acres and acres of grass in the yard, and they ran to the road!

Each has their own personality; some are a little crankier than others but still fairly easy to get along with. It is quite simple to see who is the boss when observing, and if the boss escapes the others will definitely follow. Last week I made two long walks to retrieve the herd because they found a hole to get through. No matter which one I thought I could entice to follow me with a little food, it was the boss who determined which way they went.

I learned alpacas cannot be chased, because that does not go over well with them. The easiest way to get them back where they belong is to be patient. Having a little grain in a bucket helps too. I felt like the Pied Piper, leading the herd. I can only imagine how comical it must have looked from a distance.

Alpacas are quite easy to care for, in my experience. I have read several horror stories on various Facebook groups, but overall we have not had any major issues. As someone once said to me "when you have livestock, you have deadstock", and that is so true. It is a fact of life, and although it can be heartbreaking one must move onward. I do not mean to sound heartless, because I cry every time we lose an animal (cat, dog, alpaca), but it is a fact of raising animals.

I am a self-taught spinner and have known how to crochet for 40 years. The opportunities are endless when it comes to raising alpacas, because they have given me so much inspiration. As a writer, they have even made their way into my novels.

The photo is one of our newest addition. She was born May 7, 2016 and is such a little sweetheart.

As you can see in the photo, her mother is in need of a haircut. If all goes according to plan that will take place this week. Have a great day all!

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