Friday, August 17, 2018

It's an Alpaca Alpaca day!

On Friday morning (the 10th) we took the children to visit Circle Cliff Ranch, an alpaca ranch just outside of Bicknell. It's run by Diena, a retired elementary school principal, who (along with her husband) sold her home three years ago to live her dream of raising alpacas, spinning yarn from their fleece, and selling her handiwork.

Though retired, Diena is still passionate about education and opens her ranch up to visitors. Zoë, our resident llama lover, was particularly excited about our alpaca day. Alpacas aren't llamas, which we knew, but they are both closely related members of the camelid family and they look like alpacas so Zoë was thrilled (though intimidated) by all the alpacas.

Zoë, excited but scared
And so, for her, I decided to write this post about alpacas following the scheme of Llama Llama, as a tribute to one of Zoë's favourite authors, Anna Dewdney (keep in mind that I am not Ann Dewdney, however, so my poem isn't quite as cutesy as one of her would have been):

Circle Cliff Ranch
Nestled snugly
In the canyon
Offers fuzzy
Tours with Llama's
Smaller cousins
Alpacas! Alpacas by the dozens!

Hey, there, friendly-faced alpaca!

Would you care to have a 
A snack—a
Fist of oats?
A carrot, too?

Or three? Or four?

Alpacas knocking
Down my door!

Waiting turns,
Alpacas queue...

...take a nibble.
Alpacas chew
With teeth on bottom,
But none on top...

They chew and chew
And do not stop
Until they swallow.
But then—surprise!—
Their cud comes up,
A meal reprised.

That isn't all
Alpacas do.
When they're annoyed
They spit at you!
With sneezing sounds
They'll blow "wet air."

When really mad,
To give a scare,
They spit their
Stomach contents up
(Alpacas have
Three-chambered guts).
It's green and gross
And rather vile.

But look at these 
Alpacas smile!

Alpacas are 
docile and tame.

Soft fleece is
Their claim to fame.

Alpacas are 
Hygienic critters
And designate 
Communal litter
Piles where they
So clean up's quick.
Aren't these alpacas great?

They're more than great!
They're grand, they're cracking.

I feel my life's

Oh, how I wish
I had a pack of 
Fluffy, peppy
Cute alpacas!

Rachel, The Alpaca Whisperer
So, that's the end of my poem, but I thought I'd also share this little bit that I reworked later...because I didn't think I should use potty words in a poem. I know I've done it before (and will probably do it again) but I am trying to set a good example for a certain little boy (who believes it's rude to say potty words in front of one's friends (and he's not wrong)). Anyway, here's the cut verse(s):

They eat oats
And carrots, too,
Then designate
Communal poo-ing
Piles to keep 
things neat.
Alpaca, alpaca,
Want a treat?

We really had a great time visiting the ranch. Diena told us all about alpacas, then let us help feed them some treats. They were so fond of carrots that they ignored those of us with handfuls of grain. 

Benjamin got to help give the alpacas a foot bath. Basically, he got to squirt them all with the hose (though he was also supposed to be filling up their little tubs), which all parties thoroughly enjoyed. Benjamin thought a chore of that nature was bliss and the alpacas were literally leaping for a turn in front of the hose.

Zoë also took a turn with the hose. You can see one alpaca leaping in this picture:

We saw an alpaca nursing, which made Alexander feel rather jealous so I had to nurse him, too:

He was really rather interested in the alpacas, but he kept trying to grab their faces so I had to keep a close watch on his hands:

Zoë told me, "I wish I had a baby alpaca! Not a mom alpaca, else she would spit at me! But a baby wouldn't spit at me!" 

Rachel was our a true alpaca whisperer. She always had a few (and up to a dozen) following her around at any given time.


Miriam took a while longer to warm up to the alpacas, but she was pretty brave by the end of our visit:

Toward the end of our visit the kids got to help collect eggs (some were brown, some were blue, some were speckled, Zoë only dropped one), which Benjamin really enjoyed. He was so proud to scramble up his farm fresh eggs!

The kids also got to do the "stupid human trick" of feeding an alpaca a carrot mouth-to-mouth (only Benjamin and Rachel were brave enough to try it):


 Clearly I took far too many pictures of are a few more:

Oh, we learned that alpacas like to cuddle. They play a little piggy-back game of sorts where one tries to climb on the back of the other. Usually it's just offspring that will piggy-back on their mothers (whether their mothers are lying down or walking around). These are both females (the males are kept in another enclosure):

Here's Rachel with all of her alpaca friends again:

Oh, I have a story about Rachel. She was, for whatever reason, frustrated about how dirty her shoes had gotten (even though we'd just been hiking the days prior to our visit to the ranch and were leaving the ranch to go hiking again), so Andrew said, "You should have just taken a foot bath with your new friends."

It took her a minute to process what he meant and then she said, "Ew, gross, Dad! I wouldn't even take a foot bath with my normal friends!"

So Rachel has "normal" friends and alpaca friends. I guess if you're not an alpaca you're normal (but that definition is open for debate because I've met Rachel's friends).

More alpaca pictures!

It was a rather enjoyable morning and we're so grateful for wonderful people like Diena, who share their talents and knowledge with the rest of us.

Oh, and we got to pass a buffalo herd on the drive out to Circle Cliff Ranch, which our resident buffalo-lover (Benjamin) was over the moon to see. Perhaps I will have to write a buffalo poem à la Llama Llama for him one of these days...


  1. My goats poop all over but their pops are so small and dehydrated that is no big deal if you step on them. They actually call goat poop black gold because you can stick it right on plants without waiting for it to compost. My dog poop on the other hand is disgusting and even though we tried to teach him to only poop in one place he poops all over...ugh.

  2. How fun! I like how the alpacas look at the camera and smile. :)