Word of the Day: Alpacas

My new girls and their breeders, Maureen and Larry Macedo, back in April. The one they’re holding is Chloe, and behind her are Champagne and Mocha in the background.

I could hardly believe it when I looked at my blog page on janecarlilebaker.com and realized I haven’t said a word since February. Part of the reason is that I’ve revamped the page to add my editing business, which took a while. Click on over and look. There’s an opportunity to get a monthly email from me containing fun adventure, animal, and other stories. Please sign up. I won’t sell your email address, just share my writer life with you.

So what’s that got to do with alpacas? I’ll tell you. I have a giant backyard even though I live in town. If there are no animals, somebody has to mow. I can’t mow and write at the same time. So my alpacas’ first identity is lawn mowers. However, this is not a short story. I was drawn to alpacas at first because when their fleece is grown out, they look like teddy bears on four legs with these gorgeous eyes. Then I found out they don’t tear grass out like sheep do. But that’s not all, dear friends. They also eat elderberry trees like mine which is trying to take over the world.

And that’s not all, either. Alpaca fleece is some of the softest there is. People compare it to cashmere, and yet it’s strong and warm, and even wicks water away from your skin. It’s hypoallergenic and dust mites (which I’m allergic to) hate it. So far, I have a sweater and a pair of socks made of alpaca fiber, and they are lightweight, too. You can make so many things out of alpaca fiber–dryer balls, hats, shawls, blankets, rugs–I could go on. In about a week, I’ll have a bed pillow made from Champagne’s fleece. Ask me if I’m excited. Yes, yes I am.

But that’s still not all. Alpacas poop all in the same place because they want their owners to have easy clean up. No, really, they do. And not only that, their poop isn’t hot. That means you can put it right on your garden, or if you’re a purist, you can compost it first. Some people make alpaca poop tea, but I prefer to just water it. You don’t even have to rake it in, for cryin’ out loud. Some folks call alpaca poop magic beans. No surprise there.

Now for the best part. Each alpaca has their own personality. In our herd, and by the way, if I’ve talked you into getting your own, you have to have at least three. In our herd, Chloe is the leader. She is aloof and her ears go up first when there’s a noise. Nevertheless, she’ll eat alfalfa pellets right out of my hand. She’s also the oldest. Champagne is next, and she’s a foodie. I have to put rocks in her frizbee feeder to keep her from eating too fast, or she’ll choke. Just the other day she gave me a nose kiss. The youngest and littlest is Mocha (the dark one, naturally) and she’s had a little trouble with comfort in the transition from the farm to our backyard. She hums the most. That’s the sound alpacas make, humming, peaceful humming.

And that’s not all. Next time I’ll tell you about spitting.