That’s us. We have a new family of four little alpacas, ranging in age from almost 1 to almost 2 years old. Three are females, one is a male. They are beautiful, they are smart, they are peaceful animals to be around. We learn things every day.
Bandit was a sweet and friendly little boy when he was in the big herd. He has black fleece with a white face and a slightly longer nose than the rest of the alpacas we have. But now he is the leader of the little herd at his new home, and you can tell in his posture and mannerisms, that he takes that role seriously — it’s almost like he’s become an adult overnight. He leads the way, he protects his females from us when they don’t want to be bothered, he spits when he’s not happy with something we’re doing or something one of the females is doing, he’s the first one and the pushiest one to get grain or pellets when we’re giving treats. He seems taller. It’s so interesting to see his changes, and Sarita sometimes has to remind him to be respectful of us with a flick on the nose.
Then there’s his old buddy, Jazzy. The two hung out together all the time in the big herd, and she still seems to want that relationship, but it’s almost as though he’s moved on. He spits air at her if she is annoying him. Jazzy is the youngest, and a beautiful rich “sienna brown” color (if you remember the old big box of Crayolas). She will stand and look right at you with her big eyes, as if to say, take me back to my mommy, or perhaps, listen to what I’m saying, it’s important! She is extremely vocal, and we’re not sure what’s going on. Does she have an allergy? is she talking to us? Is it something else not quite right? She is the one that seems to feel the separation from the big herd and her mom the most, but she’s also become more approachable than she was at the beginning. Sarita took her to the vet to find out what’s going on with this unusual sound she’s making, we wanted to be sure she wasn’t having trouble breathing. We don’t have a trailer, so she had to ride in the van. She climbed up in the back seat and rode, looking out the window. No pooping or peeing until she got out of the van at home, and she had gone through x-rays and blood drawing and everything. Still don’t know what’s going for sure, but she is a sweetheart.
Carmelita is the oldest, but it’s as if she just wants to fade into the woodwork. She hums a little questioning hum when we’re around, I think it’s a bit of a nervous reaction, and she’s shy. When the others were eating grain out of my hand, she was looking for the dropped pieces on the ground. She is the one who didn’t want to go into the barn on the first evening. She kushes (or cushes) (sits down) when she is frustrated or doesn’t want to be led, and that’s what she did. There was no getting her up. We had to leave her in the yard until dark, and then she stood up and Sarita was able to bribe her into the barn with a bowl of pellets. That was the only time though — she follows everyone else in and out of the barn like it’s second nature now. She is a dark, rich brown, slightly lighter underneath, and quite small for her age. She stands a little knock-kneed, and has a hairdo that covers her eyes.
Canela is cinnamon-colored with a black nose and dark ears and a relatively short nose, very beautiful. She is a really interesting alpaca. We never got to know her when visiting the big herd, because she was always by her mother, or always moving away from us. But she has turned out to be the most independent female, wanders away when they are all gathered together, doesn’t let Bandit intimidate her, seems to take care of herself very well without always needing to be part of the group.
They have adjusted very well to their new home, and will wander from one yard to the next, happily eating hay or eating the elm leaves on the branches that we throw in their lot, given by our neighbor when a dust devil took them down from his tree. I like to work in the kitchen of the studio house and look out, following their progress around the yard, or watch them all kushing near the chairs we have out there. When it’s time to go in the barn for the evening, they follow me in, with Sarita bringing up the rear, hoping for some treats when they get into the corral. They figured out where the gate in the fence was, and how to go down the lane to the barn. They watch the barn kittens play, and Bandit looks like he’s daring them to come in the corral, which they do as sneakily as they can, and then dash back out. Today, however, kitten Raya came in and settled herself next to the water bowl, even with Bandit looking and walking over. He leaned down and almost touched noses with her, which was remarkable. I guess they’re getting used to each other. It’s a cozy barn, and they seem content in it, and we feel confident that coyotes, and other animals that might pass through town as they come down from the mountain or up from the arroyo, won’t be able to get to them.
We can sit out in the yard with them, and they will come near and watch us, and then they all lie down near us in their graceful manner, and just look relaxed. It’s very peaceful. Sarita is so happy that her life is exactly the way she pictured it in her dreams, except that she hasn’t enough hours in the day to do all she wants. I’m glad that she is happy, and that I can do whatever works for me to help take care of them.
7:00 in the morning is not necessarily my favorite time of day, but I have to say the light out in the barnyard at that time is extraordinary, the mountains are illuminated in morning sun, the air is cool and everything is quiet. It is a wonderful time to be out with the alpacas. And then when the chores are finished, I can go back to bed if I want.