While dairy farming is our main farm source that my family has, we also have a small alpaca farm in our backyard, which is pretty cool and always fun to tell people. It started a few years ago, first meaning to be a new job for my mom when she temporarily lost her old one, but then since she got it back it became a bit more like a hobby.
We started out with seven of them, five from one farm and two brothers from a different farm. We’ve got four girls; Saber, Aurora, Silver Moon and Charmin, and then we had three boys; Zonji, Coal and Prince. A few years ago back when we were beginners Prince got worms which eventually made him so sick that he couldn’t even stand anymore. Of course since we were beginners we had no idea until it was too late and he passed away. Just lately Coal, the brother of Prince, also got these worms but since we know more know and were prepared for it we fixed him and today he’s fine.
Besides when they get sick alpacas have always seemed to me to be a much more low maintenance type of animal than cows are. Obviously they have the basic food and water needs, which basically consists of a bit of grain in the morning and more in the afternoon, a big water bucket in each barn that we fill up almost weekly or whenever it’s needed, and a supply of hay that we usually have to fill up daily. Besides those daily things there is an annual shearing day most of the time around June, when we get professionals to come in and give our kids a haircut. We then use this hair, typically called fleece to make yarn and knit or sometimes weave different things. And I’ve heard some try and say that shearing them hurts them, but it is just like a haircut for humans, and it makes them feel a lot better in the summer when their heavy coats are gone. Then during the year the fleece grows back so when winter comes again they have a lot of fleece again so they stay warm throughout. Another thing that happens during shearing day and a few other times if needed is that we give them shots to help keep away the worms and clip their toenails to help stop them from catching them on stuff in the field that they spend most of their day in.
Alpacas are kind of funny creatures but they can always make us laugh, and though they can be skiddish and are prey animals, (so like you can’t hug them or anything), they still show us love and we love and take care of them as much as we do cows.