Our alpacas never cease to amaze me with their creativity, especially when it comes to getting more food!
I have mentioned before how we are fortunate enough to have several family groups of alpacas. By family groups I mean alpacas who are directly related to each other mother/daughter, sisters, even now some grandmother/grand daughters. The more I watch the family groups the more I realize how bonded these groups become, how they enjoy each others company and have a relationship with each other that is different from the relationship they have with other alpacas in the herd.
Such a group is the Chai family, which consist of Chai and three of her daughters, Cinnamon, Shiimsa and Kaneka. The Chai family has been taught by their matriarch (Chai) that humans are to be tolerated from a distance and that all food in the immediate area is really just for them, despite what the other alpacas think. Not one of the Chai family is backward in coming forward when it comes to food.
When it comes to evening chore time, certain alpacas get an evening ration of alpaca pellets. These are alpacas that have a greater nutritional need such as late term pregnant dams or growing weanlings. Currently none of the Chai family falls under that category and so they are not on the list to receive evening pellets.
According to the Chai family though there must have been some mix up in the selection of alpacas who receive evening pellets. They feel they should get extra pellets and that I am totally wrong to exclude them from the pellet feast.
Our alpaca girls are pretty well trained to head into their appropriate pen when it comes to feeding time. Most of them are standing waiting in place when I walk in with the stack of bowls containing pellets. I say most of them, because every night without fail, there, in the last pen to be fed, stand Cinnamon and Shiimsa.
Cinnamon and Shiimsa are clever girls, they don’t want to stand out and get noticed, so they stand nonchalantly looking around as if they are just meant to be there.
So every evening I go through the process of herding Cinnamon and Shiimsa out of the pen, except now they have called in reinforcements to help them with their quest – Chai and Kaneka! As I herd Cinnamon and Shiimsa out, Shiimsa will hesitate in the gate just long enough to let Chai and Kaneka in, so for me it’s back to square one as I start to herd Chai and Kaneka out of the pen. But wait, just as Chai is headed out, Shiimsa or Cinnamon will cause a distraction and then bingo, before I know it another member of the Chai family is back in the pen and that family member gets really sneaky and hides from view (there are 3 –4 other alpacas in the pen who are meant to be there and who provide good cover!).
I’m probably not describing this as well as I could, but the actions of the Chai family are more than just a casual attempt to remain in a pen with food, it is an organized effort to ensure that at least one of the Chai family outwits me! Without fail, I just think that I have all of the Chai family out of the pen; I shut the gate and up pops a head from one of the Chai girls!
I am beginning to think that the Chai family are actually a highly skilled group of distraction artists, they remind me of the gypsy children in Italy who will surround you and distract you while one of them adeptly removes your wallet, or the distraction burglars who will knock on your door, keep you busy and distracted while another one of the team steals from your house. The Chai family are skilled at their task and succeed in outwitting me most of the time!
I will keep insisting to the Chai family that they are not going to get evening pellets, and they, I am sure, will in turn insist that the evening pellets should be theirs!