A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 12, 2007

Pacas Around the Tree

Filed under: alpaca, Alpacas, camelids, Family, General, llama — Tags: , , , , , — alpacalady @ 7:35 am

Christmas Pacas  For our Open House at the weekend we tried to add a little bit of Christmas cheer to the farm.  We had Christmas music playing in the studio and had a nice bayberry candle burning in a little chiminea to provide a Christmas aroma while our guests browsed the alpaca products that we had for sale.

Looking around the studio though it looked a little bare, we decided that we needed some form of Christmas tree to brighten the place up.  By the time we decided this it was a little late to go out and buy one, so Ric was sent packing to one of our storage buildings to dig up our “skinny trees”.

The skinny trees made it into our household a couple of years ago.  Usually at Christmas time we have a live pine tree in the house for our Christmas tree.  Like many people we were in the habit of going to a local Christmas tree lot and picking out the perfect tree.  A couple of years ago though our Christmas tree routine failed when there was a shortage of trees, we went to the Christmas tree lot only to be told that there were no trees available.  At first we thought it was a joke, but then discovered that it was not and there were no Christmas trees available in Clovis, New Mexico at that time.

How could we have Christmas without our traditional tree?  We were not fans of artificial trees but that seemed our only option.  We went to a couple of stores but were not impressed with the artificial Christmas trees they offered.  Eventually we ended up at a craft store and that’s where we spotted the skinny trees.  Ric was not too impressed initially and I suppose it was hard to get used to the idea of something so different from our usual Christmas tree, but they were the only thing we had come anywhere close to liking and so three skinny trees of various sizes came home with us.

Having set the skinny trees up at home, we decided that we really quite liked them, so much so that we used them again the following year.  They are very different and not too everyone’s taste but many people who visited us commented on how much they liked them.

So this past Saturday the skinny trees were dug out from storage and two of the three were set up in the studio.  They looked a little bare and so we started to look around for something to make them look more appealing.  Our eyes came upon our two extra large toy llamas that Ric’s son Paul had sent us from Peru a couple of years ago.   This particular size of toy llama is hard to come by and I had asked Paul to buy us a couple if he saw them in his travels, which he did (thank you Paul!).  Then we saw our carved wooden alpaca, that particular figure is from Ruidoso, New Mexico which has several craftsmen who carve bears out of wood using chain saws.  An enterprising alpaca friend of ours had approached one of the craftsmen and negotiated for him to carve a batch of alpacas with his chain saw.  When we saw them we had to have one and so the carved alpaca took up residence in the studio.

Ric has a much more artistic eye than I and in minutes had the trees, llamas and alpaca set up.  Several of our visitors commented on how much they liked Ric’s Christmas scene and so we are thinking of moving it into the house now that Christmas is closer.  We will bring the third tree into the house too and Ric will rearrange things to incorporate that tree.  I guess to some people it might seem to be a bit of an odd Christmas decoration but we feel it is appropriate for us and will enjoy having our little herd of “easy keepers” (no feed or vet bills on these guys!) in the house for a while.

Of course we are not too sure how Snuggler the cat will behave around our trees, he’s quite a lively young fellow and from years of cat ownership I know Christmas trees seem to have a magnetic quality to young cats.  We will just have to hope that all goes well with Snuggler and the trees and be prepared to wake up to a tangle of trees and cat in the morning!


December 10, 2007

Stars At Night Becomes Stars in Heaven!

Stars with Alex I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry that we had one farm visitor who made a distinct impression on us, today I will share our experience and I am sure you will be enthralled.

Whenever we have visitors to the farm we can tell a lot about the visitor by the way the alpacas react to them.  Do the alpacas shy away?  Do they come up and offer a greeting?  Do they refuse to interact with the visitors at all?  The alpacas various reactions can tell us a lot about the personality of the visitor, their comfort level with the alpacas and the alpacas comfort level with them.

Saturday’s Open House coincided with the grand opening of the new local Tractor Supply Company Store.   We were invited to participate in the events of the grand opening but having already advertised our Open House we needed to make sure someone was at the farm to meet our visitors.  During the course of the day Ric and I took turns to drive out to the Tractor Supply Company and join Bob Dart from Llano Soleado Alpacas and his son Nathan who had taken a couple of their male alpacas to the grand opening.

While I was at Tractor Supply Company I telephoned Ric to make sure he was not swamped with visitors at the farm.  When I called he told me that he had nine people with him at that moment and was managing well.  Ric then mentioned to me that he was standing in the pasture while one of the alpacas “Stars at Night” was standing still allowing herself to be petted.

You may think there is nothing unusual about this, but Stars is not usually an alpaca who chooses to interact with people.  Stars is fine once you have caught her, but she prefers to keep her distance from us two-leggeds.

So to hear that Stars was standing in the pasture without a halter on and allowing herself to be petted was an unusual thing.

I drove home and the visitors who had been with Ric when I had called him were still at the farm, two lovely families who between them had six children.  One of the families was the family of Jennifer Stewart our advertising contact at the Clovis News Journal.  For those of you who follow this blog you will remember that at Halloween Jennifer had arrived at the farm dressed up as a clown.

Earlier in the week Jennifer and I had got together to discuss our upcoming ads for the CNJ Online.  During our conversation Jennifer had mentioned that her 14 year old son Alex was interested in becoming a vet.   Jennifer had asked if there would be any chance that Alex could spend some time at our farm working with the alpacas.  Alex loves all animals and he felt some time at our farm would be good experience for him.

Apparently it is not a one way street when it comes to Alex’s love of animals, we soon discovered that they love him as much as he loves them, for it was Alex who had caused Stars to allow herself to be petted in the pasture.

I got the chance to watch Alex interact with Stars once I had returned to the farm.  By the time I arrived Stars had already had one encounter with Alex, but when we went out into the pasture and he again approached her she did not move away.  Alex very gently reached out and stroked her and you could see an instant connection between the two.

Throughout her whole time with Alex Stars was relaxed and content.  Stars sniffed Alex’s shoes, rubbed her head against him and then stood stock still while he stroked her neck.  As Alex continued to stroke Stars her eyes began to droop, she was in seventh heaven!  What happened next though was quite amazing.  Stars again looked at Alex, lifted a front foot and then cushed right next to him.  As we watched we found it hard to believe that this was young Stars who usually would rather stay away humans.  As Stars cushed she was completely at ease, she could have walked away at any time but she chose instead to stay with Alex.  That choice speaks volumes about how Stars felt about her new friend.

Alex sat next to Stars and continued to stroke her, in time some of the other children from the party came and sat next to Stars too.  They stroked her and hugged her and the whole time she sat very happily next to them – what a wonderful sight.

It was cold in that pasture that afternoon and eventually the rest of Alex’s party was ready to go home.  We hated to break up Alex and Stars and I am sure that if they had their own way they would have stayed in each other’s company for a much longer period of time.

It is rare that you meet someone who has such a connection to animals as Alex does; it is a gift that he has been given.  You and I may never pick up the special qualities that Alex has within him, but the animals can sense it and know that this is someone who they can trust and who has a deeper understanding of them than other human beings do.

I hope that Alex is successful in his dream to be a veterinarian, or at least finds a career where he can work with animals on a daily basis.  I get the feeling that one way or another animals are Alex’s destiny.

We will look forward to having Alex come out to the farm again and you can bet that we will be looking for a way to give this young man some work experience on our farm.  We are also sure that when Alex comes to see us again a certain black alpaca will once again go from being “Stars at Night” to “Stars in Heaven”.


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