It all began 5 years ago at the Strolling of the Heifers Parade in Brattleboro, Vermont. I was standing on the sidewalk with my friend Linda, watching the beautiful Jersey and Holstein calves, heifers and cows walk past. All of a sudden , there was a different kind of animal in front of us, not a cow, not a goat, not a llama! It was then that I saw my first alpaca! They look a bit like a small llama, with long necks, big eyes, and very soft fleece. I fell in love!
I rushed home to call my younger brother who is a farmer in Hardwick , Massachusetts, to tell him how cute this alpaca was, and to suggest that he get some! His answer was : “You go first! ” He said that he had plenty of animals and , since I only had a few cats, it seemed that I should be the one to get the alpacas!
Our 10 acres of land is plenty for alpacas, who like about an acre of land for each 10 animals. They do need fencing to protect them from predators, and at least a 3 sided shelter so that they can be protected from the snow. They need to be sheared every 6 months or so, and eat only about a bale of hay each week, in addition to grazing in the field. They’d look so picturesque from the Inn, grazing serenely in the back meadow, ready for guests to wander out and talk to them! The only draw back was the price- a female alpaca can cost as much as $8,000 and up. So, the alpaca dream has languished, as we take care of more immediate concerns such as painting the Inn or college tuition for the kids.
Last Saturday, I saw a box ad on the front page of the Brattleboro Reformer that an “Open Farm” was being held at Wildwood Acres Alpacas up in Newfane. After I finished cooking breakfast, I drove up to see the alpacas. There were 11 in all, some brown, some white, some black, some younger, some older, living in a beautiful meadow with a barn built just for them. The owner showed me around, and introduced me to the alpacas. One of them let me pet him: we stood nose to nose while I petted his neck and then he put his head on my shoulder. I was in heaven!
So, the dream still lives, and I know that I can go and visit Wildwood Acres now and then, even if we don’t have our own alpacas yet!