Last September we met up with my parents at our friends’alpaca ranch, Macedo’s Mini Acres, for National Alpaca Farm Days Open House, a yearly event with felting and spinning demonstrations plus access to their adorable alpacas. I’d been meaning to take the kids for years, back when I’d been meaning to take only the one kid, because Elias hadn’t come along yet.
Isobel had just received my old phone, and when she saw me packing up my cameras she asked if she could bring it to take photos of the alpacas, too. (I’ll have to post some of those photos another time–they are great!)
I was glad I went with Anthony and my parents, instead of just trying to wrangle the kids myself, because Elias really really wanted to hug and snuggle and cuddle each and every alpaca we came across. They took a dim view of this, and stayed juuuust out of reach, which was wise. If Elias’ dealings with our cats are any indication, after hugging he would have immediately tried to ride them. He settled for feeding them, which made his face light up with pure baby joy.
We all especially cooed over the baby alpaca, who, if I remember correctly, was perhaps only a week old. There were a couple other babies wandering around, but the littlest one is the one we got closest to. They were serene and curious and really adorable. Alpacas are relatives to the camel, though none of the ones we saw spit, or made loud noises, or have any unfriendly behaviors. They are smaller than llamas which made them perfect to introduce to Isobel, who is easily intimidated by animals.
Longtime readers might remember our trip to the San Francisco Zoo, where we excitedly met a baby giraffe, a perfect miniature of its mother at only six feet tall. We were elated, all of us–except for Isobel. She has an incredibly oversensitive nose and as soon as we approached the barn where the baby was housed she started shouting TOO STINKY! TOO STINKY! and put her hat over her face to shield her from the smell and any sight of the new baby. I feel the need to mention that the giraffes had a smell no stronger than a single cow at your local fair. Not bad at all. I was wondering how she would handle things on the ranch, and if we’d have to have a talk about screaming TOO STINKY! loudly in public again, but she didn’t even mention it. Not a peep. Alpacas were an entirely harmless animal according to Isobel, and she has very strict standards.
One of the perks of knowing the family who own the farm is that Isobel felt comfortable going right up to Maureen, who was spinning the alpaca fiber to get a good look at the spinning wheel. She was transfixed and asked me if she could learn to spin as well. Maureen of course would have welcomed anyone to come take a look at the process, but being friends meant that Isobel wasn’t too shy to check it out.
She was even allowed to collect a few fluffs of unspun fiber for her fairy houses back at home.
Elias does not have his sister’s hesitation when it comes to animals. He really enjoyed his experience with no reservations.
This alpaca mother was very curious of me and my camera.
One of the super neat things about the open house was seeing a modern version of the spinning wheel. It was created by a former NASA engineer, and I adore the mid century modern aesthetic and atomic starburst designs. It is just gorgeous.
Maureen dyes some of the fiber before she spins it because, as she said, “I haven’t figured out how to raise rainbow colored alpacas yet.”
I am embarrassed to admit that several times throughout the day each of us accidentally referred to the alpacas as llamas at least once. I felt really silly every time, but the alpacas are so good-natured I’m sure they forgave me. Before we left we stopped by their little store, which was packed with all kinds of good stuff. We bought two alpaca figures (ostensibly one for each kid but I’ve seen Isobel keeps sneaking off with both). Our constant llama-flubs led to this hilarious exchange as we were getting into the car: “Mom! I think Elias dropped his Obama!” The word you are looking for is “llama.” And it’s actually an alpaca.
Although Isobel disagrees, I’ve named them Obama and Cuzco.
This event was free and totally fun and gave Isobel a great lesson on spinning and fiber and how yarn is made and it taught Elias about a whole new animal that doesn’t want to be ridden by him, thanks.
Look at the face of the alpaca in the photo above. What’s not to love?