Introduction to Alpacas
Hi, my name is Wellground Amen Ra, (better known as Ted) I am an alpaca – yes! I really am! In fact, I am an Alpaca of Distinction. Read my diary and you will soon realize that not all alpacas are alike. There are, however, many things we all have in common.
Being an author myself I understand that it is best to write about what you know - and who would know more about an alpaca than an ALPACA. Mind you, some alpacas may have a slightly different idea about how they would like to spend their days – no injections, no nail clipping, lots more hay – but we rely on you humans to do what is best for us. I have written a few suggestions for those of you who haven’t looked after us before – once you have experienced alpacas in your life you will never look back. We are cute, well behaved (mostly), easy to care for and will reward you with kilos of beautiful fleece, and those who are able, lots of lovely cria (babies) to bring you a living that is the envy of many.
I was born here in England, but my mum, Atlantic Cleopatra, was born in Peru, which is a beautiful country in South America. Alpacas have been domesticated for over 6,000 years. We are related to the camel, and many of us, along with our relatives the llama, vicuna, and guanaco, still range the high plains of Peru and are farmed by the local people. Some people mistake us for llamas, but we are smaller, produce a finer fleece and are not generally used as pack animals, although some of my relatives enjoy trekking.
Some people keep us as pets, especially wethers, like me (that’s a male who has had ‘the operation’), but we are bred for our beautiful fleeces. My unusual colouring is often referred to as "multi" – because my fleece is black, grey, white and rose grey. It is more usual to breed solid colours, and there are 22 official colours and many shades in between. They range from purest white through glowing browns and deep black and several shades of soft grey, including rose grey - my mum is a stunning grey.
Alpaca fleece is extremely fine and silky soft, very like cashmere, and one of the rarest fibres on the planet. We are sheared once a year – boy! that’s embarrassing! And leaves us a little bit on the chilly side for few days! Then the fleece is spun into beautiful yarn which can be used to knit clothes or go into the textile industry to make luxury suits and things.
Here at Little Gem Alpacas all our fleeces, even mine, are sent away to be made into yarn which is then used for baby knitting – Oops! No, that HAS been explained to me; at one time I thought the Boss knitted babies with Ivory’s wool. Silly Alpaca! The Boss knits the white fleeces into beautiful baby clothes, and mine is knitted into exclusive Ted-Wear ski hats.
Alpaca wool is extremely warm, ultra light, water repellent and super soft with no prickle factor – too good to be true? Just feel some! Wow! I wear it all the time! Here at Little Gems we have an average herd micron count of 22. We all have lovely fleeces, some of us are extra fine and silky – if you want to know any more about ME or alpacas, or Me, or the other lads or ladies on the farm give us a call or send an e-mail. The Boss will be only too pleased to speak to you on her favourite subject - Me! I mean Alpacas.
Lots of love,
P.S: the Boss said I was to tell you about some of the interesting things you have to do with us Alpacas – we need our nails trimmed three or four times a year – unless you're Alexander, (he gets his done every month!) That because he’s white and his nails grow sooo quickly. It doesn’t hurt, so most of us don’t mind having that done. We also have to have injections, now that IS a bit ‘ouchy’ but it's over very quickly - we are a forgiving lot and forget the pain almost instantly and go back to eating – which we do for most of our waking hours. Most of us like hay, I like hay a lot! But too much of a good thing is – well, not good!
We also have a supplement to give us some of the vitamins and minerals we need to keep us healthy in these foreign lands. That’s scrummy, almost as good as hay.
If you get pregnant (it lasts for eleven and a half months – sometimes even longer!) you get lots more of everything, including attention. We all get checked several times a day, which can be very annoying when you're trying to take a nap and someone shouts across the paddock, "Hey Ted are you O.K.?" Or calls you out of a warm, snug shelter in the pouring rain – "Yeah, O.K., but WET now!" We also have a close, hands-on check once a week, ears, nose, eyes, body scored etc. – you get used to it quickly, and if you stand still and smile they let you go quickly – some of us have to endure a kiss and cuddle, but then our aim is to please, we ARE alpacas after all.
Oh yes, and water! We need to have clean, fresh water every day, very important, and some of us – not mentioning any names, but here all members of a certain family like to scoop out the water rather than drink it! My mum is the main culprit, so this has to be watched, especially in the summer.
We can live for 15 – 25 years, but we do not like to
live alone - a group of two or three or more is best, we like to be with friends as
we are herd animals. Half an acre is fine for two or three wethers but you
will need to provide at least one acre between five of us. Although this is
adequate, we do like to move about our paddocks and have a change of scenery
sometimes, so those who are in the ‘know’ reckon
on five to six alpacas per acre with spare pasture for winter months.
The Boss has read through my letter and has made a few comments – (as always!) and decided to make a few changes. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother – except that I like writing to all my fans out there and sharing my thoughts and feelings – oh yes, us alpacas do have feelings! (And I have my own Diary Pages here on the website) Please remember this when you take on the responsibility of our care, we can give you a wonderful occupation, fantastic fleeces, and beautiful cria, with hours of fun and relaxation, as well as financial reward, but we do need the right care and consideration to give you our best.
More love from Ted.
Sue West runs Little Gem Alpacas and The Vintage Knitting Lady from Wiltshire in the UK
Feel free to contact Sue either by Email - email@example.com,
or telephone 01980 625486