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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spring on an Alpaca Farm

Spring on the Alpaca Farm

There are many changing seasons in life. Spring for us on the alpaca farm means: it is time to shear the animals before it gets to hot, it is time to clean the barn and get the fans down; And the anticipation of new life is just around the corner.

At Alpacas of Chambana, we are expecting two new babies. Baby alpacas are called Crias. They range from 15 to 20 pounds when they are born. They look like they are all legs. Within 90 minutes they usually have taken there first steps on wobbly legs. They have learned who mom is, where the milk comes from, and how to run. A lot of change happens in a small window of time. If you are blessed enough to witness it, it is so cool.

Last year on Memorial Day Weekend, my sister was visiting from WI. When I was dressing, I joked with her, "since I am wearing white capris today, we will probably have a birth." We were getting ready to watch the Indy 500, a tradition in my household. As I walked over to turn on the TV, I glanced out the window. Low and behold, Clarity was standing in the sunshine, facing the barn and starting to labor. I yelled with excitement, "We are going to have a baby, it's birthing time! Come quickly!" Out we went to the barn, in a matter of minutes, a cria was on the ground. He didn't stay on the ground long. He stood up on pretzel stick like legs. And started exploring. The female alpacas gathered around, as if to cheer them on. He was off and running. A perfect delivery, a healthy cria, and we saw the whole thing.

We appropriately named him, Indy. This weekend Indy turns one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why do you want to have alpacas anyway?

Grandma Ruth,
Why do you want to have alpacas anyway?

Good question. My first response is because they are so darned cute.
Well there are a lot of cute animals out there so that must not be the
only reason. Puppies are cute, but they bark, come running with their
tail wagging and give you puppy kisses. Alpacas are not like that.
They only have a few sounds they make. Mostly they just hum. If you
listen closely, the hums mean different things. Sometimes they are
saying. I am lonely, where are my friends. Alpacas are social animals.
They want to be with their friends, old or new. If their friends are
playing outside, they want to play outside. If their friends are laying
on the barn floor, they want to lay on the barn floor If their friends
are eating grain, they think they must be eating grain.

Alpacas don't jump on you and bite. They only have two bottom teeth.
If they wanted to bite, it wouldn't hurt. When they are angry, they may
stomp their feet. If they are afraid, they will send out a warning
call to other animals. They put their head up and look in the direction
of the danger. They make a high pitched squeaky noise to tell their
friends to "beware". Then everyone looks in the direction of the danger
until they feel safe.

The other noise alpacas make is a clicking noise. When they have new
babies they will make clicking noise at the nose or tail of the baby, to
say "I love you and want to take care of you"! Alpacas love to make
you happy. They are really good at making you smile. The babies like to
run and play. Most alpacas are good moms.

Beside smiles, alpacas give us their fleece to be made into warm
garments. They have so much soft fleece that keeps growing and growing.
Once a year, before it gets too hot, they get a hair cut. Their
fleece can be made into yarn for making hats, scarves, gloves and socks.
Their fleece is used to make sweaters, shawls, and blankets. The good
news is that alpacas live to be about twenty years old. During that
time, they can give us lots of beautiful yarn to help keep us warm.

Alpacas are easy to care for. They don't need a bath or to wash their
hair. They mostly eat grass, hay, or grain. And they almost always
poop in the same place. This makes it easy clean up after them. Some
people raise them for pets and walk them like a dog.
Some people raise them for their fleece to make things. And some
people raise them to make babies and sell them to good homes. The main
reason, Grandma Ruth has alpacas is to make her smile. And bring smiles
to those who visit.