Country Living Series

Monday, August 29, 2016

A new kind of creature

We have a new kind of critter in the neighborhood -- alpacas.


Our neighbors leased (yes, leased) six of these dazzling things. Why, I have no idea, but I must admit they're awfully cute. They're so different than the usual cadre of cows and horses, sheep and goats.


But what was absolutely hilarious was the reaction of our cattle to these new animals. The moment the alpacas were spotted, the entire herd came thundering over to gape. And I mean gape.



They mooed and bellowed and pawed and gaped some more.


Fast forward a couple of weeks. Since the neighbor's pasture is on the other side of the barn from our house, it's not clearly visible from our yard. Therefore Lydia had never seen the alpacas.

Now that the bees are no longer in the garden space, I've been letting Lydia loose to roam about while I'm weeding or watering.


Then she saw the alpacas for the first time -- and suddenly all that is Pyrenees in her came surging to the forefront. Alert! Alert! New animal in the vicinity!


And she barked. And barked and barked. Alert! Alert!


Alpacas are so different that Lydia instantly determined they were, well, different. Alert! Alert! (As you may have guessed, "high alert" is nothing unusual for Pyrenees.)



Meanwhile the alpacas seemed mildly interested but hardly concerned.



When it became apparent the alpacas were not in imminent danger of invading her territory, Lydia calmed down, though she kept a wary eye on the newcomers.

I have no idea what the neighbors intend to do with these lovely creatures. They won't be shearing them for wool (they were sheared before they arrived). I guess they just like having unusual pets.

14 comments:

  1. They can make for a pretty good business you know, shearing them every now and again and then turnin out rugs, socks, throws, etc. Of course, you must know how to shear and what to do with all that ya get from those furry critters and then how will you distribute your new products and to to whom I suppose.

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  2. I've heard of leasing sheep for weed control, but I haven't heard of leasing alpacas, until now!

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  3. Here in Missouri they use Alpacas for coyote control.

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  4. 2 words...pack animals.

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  5. Here in the Willamette Valley you will see a llama or two in with the sheep to protect them from predators. Sometimes you will see small landholders with alpacas and llamas but I assume it is mostly like a pet or to show off. For awhile the price of one of these animals way exceeded common sense and logic. Don't get me started on the goats.

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    1. A friend has four goats and a 'guard' llama to look out for the goats. SJ in Vancouver BC

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  6. Actually Patrice while this has nothing to do
    with the alpacas, they are very cute. But I was
    listening to you tube this evening and your readers might be interested in this short you
    tube vedio. It is called "What will you do when the Lights go out"? and this is about
    our power grid
    Blessings
    Debby

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    1. I've seen a lot of videos in my sidebar with that title. Which one is it/ who put it up? I'm curious to watch it. :-)
      My husband was talking about removing the satellite dish on the side of the house (from the previous owner) and said, "Have to have their precious tv." lol I mentioned, "We talk about life without electricity. Most people don't think past 'cable or satellite', forget them even considering living without electricity!" :-/

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  7. Off the topic, but I haven't been able to pull up Enola Gay's website. Is it true that her property is up for sale? I miss her site and Frank and Fern's. All three of you gave/give me inspiration.

    Mary Ellen

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    1. Enola has a new domain name. Try this:

      http://www.paratusfamilia.com/

      I've heard rumors their property is still up for sale, but I don't know much about it.

      - Patrice

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    2. We miss Frank and Fern too. I often think of their parting advice which included: 'Avoid crowds'.

      We also took their advice about emergency communications, got our ham radio licenses, and joined the American Redoubt Radio Operators Network. BYW, it is nationwide now. Check AmRRON.com to see if their is a group near you.

      Your community is now your country. If you don't have communications with your neighbors, you are alone.
      Montana Guy

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    3. Leasing pets. What a novel idea. Actually I can think of one I wish we had leased. Oops, just joking Montana Gal!
      Montana Guy

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  8. Alpacas.....yes, they're beautiful, curious,intelligent creatures and have great memories. I have fifteen of them as we started a business back in 2002 with the original herd of eighteen. Sold some, kept some. For those people who would want to know more...The fiber is beautiful and very soft and warm and can be processed into many products. I haven't had a pair of wool socks on for years now as I only wear alpaca socks. It's softer and warmer by far and keeps your feet toasty warm and always dry. Great for the winters in Michigan. I will say this...Alpacas are NOT guard animals at all. They do have great eyesight and can see a long distance. When they see something unusual, they will make an alert sound that sounds kind of like a mix of a braying donkey and a squeaky wheel going at the same time. It's a funny noise I will admit! Trust me, if you hear that noise, pay attention as they will see things that neither dogs or people can see. They also know their "own farm dogs and cats" and if a different one shows up on the property they will tell you with that alert that something is there that doesn't belong. They are basically defenseless against other animals. All they can do is run. Domestic dogs are some of the biggest killers of alpaca in the U.S. That's why six foot, well secured fencing comes into play on many farms, though again, not totally perfect. Some people mistaken Llamas for alpacas. Llamas are used for guard animals and do a pretty good job because of their attitudes and their size and weight, but they too can be ripped to shreds by dogs, coyotes or bears. Many larger farms will keep Llamas in with their alpacas to help guard them and it does help. Dogs like Lydia are also bought and raised with the alpacas and taught to guard them and are well known to do an absolute great job. What you will love is to watch them when they get playful or excited and start pronking. It's an elegant movement. Some are more graceful than others. I think you'll like them as neighbors. They're quiet creatures and enjoy their own company within their herd. They are very smart and tend to have family relationships, such as mothers and daughters will tend to stay close to each other and keep that bond even as adults. They are definitely herd animals and should never be kept alone. That's why you'll see more than one together as most respectable breeders or owners would not sell or simply give one alpaca to someone to have. Also, they are to be shorn EVERY YEAR in the spring when the weather settles in to get that fiber off. They suffer terribly in heat and humidity if not done and can die of heat stress. It is considered cruel if this is not done. There is care to these animals other than shoving them out to some pasture. They should have shelter to get out of the sun, rain and snow which will soak them, fresh water and good quality orchard grass pasture and hay, minerals made for alpacas (some of us give a supplement daily or twice a week), during the year and their toenails need to be trimmed on a regular basis and deworming and vac's should be done on a regular schedule as needed. They're not hard to care for, but they do need regular care. Unfortunately for some alpacas, some new buyers who weren't informed by sellers have had to pay the price. I've told people who come to our farm with interest, if they're looking for an animal like a dog, get a dog, or if they're looking for animal like a horse, get a horse because these animals are nothing like a dog or horse. Those of us who have them understand that and respect these animals for what they are. Long piece of info, but I thought maybe someone out there might want to know. I love my alpacas.......

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  9. My grandma brought me Alpaca slippers from South America when I was a girl. They had very soft fur, and they were very hot for my feet for a SoCal winter. We have lots of both Alpacas and Llamas here in Central Oregon. DWLee333

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