Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alpaca handling n00b

I visited my girl today, and she's awesome. Her fiber is very fine, and has the nicest handle. She's quite the wiry little girl too. She's a baby, so she's not used to being handled much. Couple that with a n00b handler, and you get a cria covered in vitamin D paste! The breeders that sold her to me are awesome. They are teaching me about handling and alpaca care, all of which I need to know about despite the fact that I will be boarding my alpaca at a local farm where she will receive daily care from an experienced farmer. I learned that when handling alpacas, you have to hold them under the chin and at the shoulders with a firm but gentle grip...until they squirm out of your firm but gentle grip. My four month old alpaca is absurdly storng, and wiry like I said. She wiggled, squeezed, squirmed, or dashed out of my hands elevently billion times today, and I was only there for an hour and a half! Handling FAIL.

Then it was time to give her a dose of vitamin D paste, which alpacas need in the winter months when the sun's rays don't provide enough. You have to hold the alpaca, open their mouth a little, and use your finger to rub some of the paste into their mouths. It looks easy, until the n00b gets a try....before I new it I had vitamin D paste all over my alpaca's face, her ears, and my sleeve! The Great Pyrenees that guards the animals was psyched because he got to lick the paste off my sleeve, but my alpaca was not to thrilled. Handling FAIL.

After that, I got to watch them weigh a couple of animals, and then learned to recognize animals who are on the thin side or on the heavy side. I concluded my visit by hanging out in the paddock with a bunch of animals including my own cria, two other adorable little girls, their dams, and one fiber gelding. This was awesome because it was a time to just let the animals be, and let them check me out a bit. There's something wonderful about herd animals. They are not needy for human attention like dogs and cats can be, but they are curious and inquisitive yet also calm and gentle (for the most part, there are always a few who are a little high strung). It's nice to just stand and watch them. I also got to talk to the breeder for a while. She's really great, and I enjoyed our conversation too. She even offered to have some fiber set aside for me for the next time I visit! How awesome is that?! Animal and fiber WIN!

Meanwhile, I ordered a pair of hand carders and some raw alpaca fleece. These items should be arriving at my home in the next week or two. Stay tuned for my first adventures in prepping raw fiber. Behold, the power of youtube! I learned to spin that way. I can learn to card that way too.

I need more alpaca pics!

No comments:

Post a Comment