For a dozen years my sweet husband has had a secret love. He’s been dreaming of the day when he might become an alpaca farmer. He fell in love when he helped his cousin on her alpaca farm and has been talking about it ever since. We’ve visited farms. He’s researched online. We’ve talked about the possibilities and discussed the challenges. We purchased our home with the thought that “someday” we might add alpacas.
When Brian and Kaitlyn adopted a small group of alpacas a couple years ago, I thought I was in the clear. Keith could visit the farm to enjoy the alpacas, the horses, and the pack of dogs, but they would not take up my life. It seemed a perfect situation. We get to enjoy the farm but have very little of the work or commitment. Unfortunately, during my two weeks on the West Coast, the second of the three alpacas passed away. Because they are pack animals, this was a pretty immediate need. The kids began to look for a couple more alpacas to keep poor grieving Pumpkin company.
Then I received this text…
“We’re going Sunday morning to get some alpacas. at least two for them, two for us. they will stay on the farm. we can do more if you want. the more we have, the more wool we can sell” (punctuation added)
After almost thirty years of marriage compromise looks something like this… On Sunday morning, we pulled a horse trailer through the winding roads of western Massachusetts. We went to pick out our alpacas.
The alpacas were waiting for us in the pen. Their big eyes and curious expressions leaned over the fence as we approached. Immediately, the two brownish orange alpacas had my attention. We all entered the pen. Keith and I had agreed we were most interested in temperament. We wanted alpacas that were curious and calm. The two brown boys seemed just what we were looking for. Kaitlyn picked out two more, a smaller curly buff color and a white one.
Once we had determined which alpacas we were taking home, the fun began. Brian and Kaitlyn brought harnesses for them. The white one took to his harness easily, but the two brown alpacas were not having it. One jumped and bucked almost knocking Keith to the mud. While I stood near the gate with the white one, the kids and Keith tried to isolate and harness the others. My alpaca nuzzled my neck while the others kicked and jumped to get away. Finally, we opened the gate to the pen and I led my calm, stately new friend through. The others followed… Sort of.
I was about half way to the truck with my new friend when I turned around to see Brian’s alpaca jumping, kicking, and bucking like a bronco at the rodeo. Keith was barely standing with one hand on his walking stick and the other on the guide rope for 200 pounds of bucking alpaca. At one point, Kaitlyn and I were laughing so hard we could barely stand. Brian was holding on for dear life and farmer offered to take Keith’s lead. These boys were out of control! Each step that they weren’t bucking, jumping, or pulling away, they locked their hind legs to hold their ground. At one point, the farmer offered to let us choose a different pair as these were so difficult. It seemed a good idea to me, but Brian felt like we had already done the hard work and he didn’t want to have to walk them back!
All the way home, Brian reminded me that my new friend was actually his alpaca and those two brutes I’d picked were mine. Of course they were.
We got them to the farm safely. They were all relieved to be together in the horse stall the kids prepared for them. We petted and talked to them and left them to calm down over night. The next day, the kids sent us pictures of the new flock. Our browns are happily meeting the horses and exploring their new pen. We are alpaca farmers.
We don’t really have a plan. Yet. For now, we are happy to get to know them. We’ve named them. My new friend with the white coat is Bumble, one of the browns looks like a camel so we called him Joe, the little buff colored one is Curly, and then there’s Mo.
For years, I’ve tried to explain the difference between a farm and a petting zoo to my dear husband. He wants animals to tend and fuss over, I call that a petting zoo for my grandkids. It’s only really a farm if it makes money. So, were planning to learn more and come up with a plan for selling wool and eventually maybe getting some more.
The other day, Keith described how we might fence in our back yard and the alpacas could come right up on the deck. I don’t think so… but who knows. We have alpacas. Anything is possible.