By Anne Tindall
WE LIVE on 10 acres and let a friend agist his cattle on our land. It works very well for us as looking after animals takes time and commitment.
When I was staying on someone else’s property recently I got to feed their alpacas. I found myself intrigued by them.
I thought that perhaps this would be something we could handle.
We did our research and found out all we could about them.
They are fun to have around and are sweet and enchanting. They cost little to feed and they’re easy to handle.
They do need appropriate shelter, proper fences and quality veterinary care but none of these were an issue for us.
Everyone seems to know about alpacas spitting on people but they mostly do not spit. Apparently if their ears are pinned back and they’re staring at you, you should avoid eye contact and act nonthreatening.
Llamas, alpacas and their wild cousins, guanacos and vicunas, are collectively known as South American camelids or simply llamas.
Few people realise that the ancestors of these long-necked denizens actually evolved in North America.
They are cute and soft and quiet and don’t take up much room. The really wonderful thing about them is that they all poo in the same place.
I knew they were the right animals for us and quite serendipitously met the wonderful Judy Rapke who does pet therapy with children and adults. She happened to own eight alpacas and was happy to give us three of them in exchange for a donation to her son’s charity.
She has been a great source of information. They will need to be shorn once a year in January and have their toenails and worming etc done twice a year.
We have had them now for a month or so. I love it that you have to earn their trust in order to interact with them. They are just so smart and responsive.
I have a fantasy of spinning and knitting some jumpers from their beautiful wool. People have been shearing lamas for thousands of years. One of the beauties of the lama fibre is that its physical structure is more like hair yet its softness and fineness enable the spinner to produce wonderful yarn with ease. It is seven times warmer than sheep’s wool.
Elijah, Orlando and Bambilino, all named by Judy, are a wonderful addition to our family.
Children just adore them and they in turn are very sweet, kind and gentle.
They haven’t spat at anyone to date and just love eating out of our hands.
We just have them for the fun of it but they are actually a viable business option.
You can visit www.alpaca.asn.au or phone 03 9873 7700 for more information.