Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet Miss Alpaca

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Today’s Blog Post
Meet Miss Alpaca
The Brown Eyed and Beautiful Lady with the Tuft of Hair on Top –

What an amazing creature stood in front of me. She was beautiful and seemed to know it! She was eyeing me with her big brown eyes… and batting her long eye lashes. The hairdo she sported was more than cute – but it had a special purpose – to keep the sun off her head.

Meet the Alpaca and her friends at the CNE – the Canadian National Exhibition – in Toronto. But Toronto is about as far from Alpaca country as you can possibly get – isn’t it? Yep! But here they were – in the heart of a busy city doing their stuff, munching on hay and snoozing as visitors to the large fair watched them.

I think it was the lady that was scooting the large flaked wood chips over the manure that had caught my eye first. There in the middle of the Alpaca pen was a separate enclosure for the manure that would be offered after munching the hay. For the most part the Alpacas chose a spot to defecate in and would go back to the same spot each time. They are a little bit like a pig in that regard – always pooping in the same part of the pen or enclosure. The kind lady was covering the Alpaca chips with clean wood chips… keeping everything fresh and making a nice place for the droppings! (I think Alpacas are like humans they like a cleaner washroom!)

I do apologize to this knowledgeable Alpaca lady, I forgot to as her name when we were speaking about the Alpacas. She is from Grand Valley I believe and knows lots about her critters.

I learned that Alpacas have a gestation period of about 11 and ½ months. And if the Alpaca rancher plans it well they can have the entire herd bringing in its babies at the same time. What a difference between these creatures and the world of cattle – which seem to be staggered all around the calendar year. But mind you that is for a different reason.

You don’t the milk or harvest Alpaca’s meat. They are produced for the fine fibre they produce… and the breeding stock that can be developed.

I learned that an average baby may be worth $500 to begin with. But a full grown adult male, of good breeding stock and high quality fibre production, could bring from $10,000 each – or more. (That I had learned from another source before speaking with the CNE Alpaca lady.)

Yep – I had considered becoming an Alpaca investor at one stage in my life. And by investing in a local herd and one or two critters, the local Alpaca rancher would keep my animals and help increase their value and my investment.

In some areas outside investors can add to the operation and provide the working capital for the rancher… and when the time comes and the animal has proved its worth it is sold and the long term investment – with its profits paid out to the investor.

The one oops that I saw is that my animal could die on me after making the investment. Ooops. But that is what ranching and Alpaca production is all about. Risk mixed with opportunity to produce a fairly good living. And sharing the risk with investors from off the ranch that are willing to come on board and help the operation is a good way to go.

Mind you some outsiders could be and probably are pains in the neck. They could be there each weekend to love on their soft little guy making sure that it is okay. Alpacas are not like dumb cows. They have personalities and soft headed – soft hearted investors could be a problem to a local ranch operation.

After we listened to the Alpaca lady, my wife who is sometimes too soft hearted, looked at me and asked if we should have one too. Like maybe buy just one and have it in our back yard… “They are so cute..” she suggested.

I don’t think my neighbors or the city would see that as a good idea.

Can you imagine me walking my Alpaca down our local streets, stopping to scoop the poop and then walking on. The visual alone would cause car accidents in our fair neighborhood.

Mind you I might not need to mow the grass again real soon…

I was impressed by the presentation that the Alpaca Lady gave us at the CNE. “You” were very gracious with your answers to dumb city people. I knew a bit more than others did… hopefully my questions were not as dull as some.

Did you know an Alpaca needs protection from predators? They are almost defenseless except for their very powerful back kick when they don’t like what is happening. They are not at all like the Lama that is a great guard for a herd of sheep.

Alpaca herds need Lamas to protect them… and guard dogs as well.

The more I think of this beautiful creature, the more I like it.

We did yield to the story and the idea of owning a piece of Alpacas. We bought a Teddy Bear made of Alpaca fleece. It has to be the softest critter in our home… and that I have ever touched.

Alpaca lady at the 2011 CNE, about mid-afternoon on August 22… thank you. It was a pleasure speaking with you. You helped us a lot. Excellent!

~ Murray Lincoln ~


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