Have you ever been in love? Madly in love? That type of love that keeps you thinking all the time about that special person? Did you know it was about to happen? Probably not.
I never knew I was going to fall in love with alpacas. I was searching for cows to add to my recently acquired hobby farm. I had always been fascinated by cows, their longing "moos", their gentle waddling walk, and the smell of cow manure. But in my search for cows, I learned my hobby farm wasn't suited to keep them. Not enough acreage to sustain them. Not the best climate. Disappointment set in. "Why don't you try sheep?" they suggested. No, I didn't want sheep. I wanted cows.
I don't recall how alpacas came in my mind. I had seen alpacas before... a long time ago, but I couldn't tell you why they suddenly showed up in my head then. I searched online and found an alpaca farm nearby. I rang and booked a visit... and I dragged my partner along.
They say love is blind... and I agree. When I first got up and close with an alpaca, I didn't fall head over heels in love. I was probably still grieving the fact I couldn't have my cows. Alpacas look cute when you see them on the internet, printed on doonas and in cartoons. But when I saw one close up it was... a bit scary. They are big animals, especially if you are petite like me. Their long neck and weighty body were a bit intimidating. This particular female alpaca I saw was ruminating and had a cria (baby) at foot. She wasn't interested in me. Why would she?
I learned that alpacas are not like dogs. They don't come running towards you to lick you. They are like that cool person in the nightclub... mysterious, a bit aloof, checking you out cautiously, and keeping to themselves. But once you strike a conversation, slowly, and with the right foods and drinks, they start opening up.
After a few more farm visits, I bought 4 alpacas. I had visited them a few times before they arrived at my property, and so had learned a bit more about them. Cows were still in the back of my mind, just like a lingering unfinished relationship. But slowly, through a lot of of time spent in the paddock just being with my alpacas... I sort of fell in love with them.
Their ruminating their feed had a pleasing effect on my heart. I learned to distinguish their "hum" sounds and to understand they needed time to get to know me, just as much as I needed time to get to know them. We developed a connection over food - the great start of many relationships! Lucerne in buckets and the shout "Come on" would bring them running to the central yard. I would sit and just be with them... for hours. Eventually, I didn't have to shout anymore. The simple sight of buckets or the wheelbarrow would turn their gaze towards me, ears up, eyes open... and then they would stampede to the main yard, fleece blowing in the wind, necks leading their run.
At work one day, I realised I was talking about my alpacas way too much... revealing intimate details of our relationship, such as aspects of their personalities, their favourite foods and habits. I was in love. Everyone could see it. For my birthday, I got alpaca-themed gifts. Work colleagues sometimes confused my lover's name... "How are your llamas?" they would ask every now and again. "Alpacas", I would softly reply, "they are good."
I never knew I was going to fall in love with alpacas. But my life is so much richer because of them. I wouldn't change a thing.