Category Archives: alpacas

The bittersweet fusion of rain and sun

After having such a wonderful afternoon at the farm, I was deeply saddened to come home and find out that one of my good friends, Chance, had been put to sleep. I battled with feeling the joy I’d just experienced at Winslow and the devastation of losing a loved one. Grief is never an easy process and memories of frolicking with Chance will continue to weave their way into my world. My new memories at the farm intertwined with those emotions and while I am mourning the loss of a great being, I can appreciate my other companions as well.

I started out the afternoon giving Lunar bear hugs and kissing her on her soft cheeks. Kissing her fuzzy face is a new step for me and a lovely one. It’s an adrenaline rush to wrap my arms around her, so different than with a smaller animal. She responded with lots of headbutts. When she does that, I really have to brace myself. I’m pretty sure that I will end up in the mud at some point, but I still take every opportunity I can to shower her with love.

I think I mentioned that I am responsible for feeding the lovely alpacas now. YAY!!! Nothing exciting to report on them. They still won’t let me near but just spending extra time with them is good enough for me.

Another wonderful addition to my time was my pit-stop in the bird house. I walked in and spotted the turkey and he sort of started on the other side of the room, a bit of a bump and feather movement. I slowly approached him and squatted a few feet away. Very slowly, he side-stepped his way toward me until he was close enough to pet. I reached out my hand and he kind of tilted his body into it. Then he started making tiny noises of what I am assuming was joy. Last week, when I was petting him, I used extremely tentative strokes, barely touching his feathers. This time, I leaned into them more and pet him for longer. I even pet his bumpy little head while he continued to coo. I can’t wait to see him again.

The other major highlight of the day was Gulliver. After our petting session last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect from him. When we’re in the barn, he usually watches me from his pen while he waits for his food. Other than that he’s pretty self-contained and focused on eating. Most of the time, he won’t even turn around if I enter his pen. (A bit of “Maybe if I ignore her, she’ll go away”?) I noticed, however, that he was watching me a lot this week. I nonchalantly went over, chatting quietly and slipped an arm over the door. I started scratching his head without facing him and felt him lean into my hand. I started focusing my attention directly at him and he continued to offer his head to me and even started gazing up at me. At one point, I got distracted by Athena who was right behind me being beautiful and Gulliver chewed a bit on my elbow to regain my attention. He even licked my elbow once! The way he tilted his head to the side and leaned into the petting reminded me of a cat or a dog. In all honesty, I was surprised (and, of course, delighted) by that behavior. And he never stepped away to let me know he was done.

Whereas last week, I wasn’t sure if he was just putting up with me or if he actually liked me, there’s no question in my mind now. While I appreciate all of the relationships with animals that I am lucky enough to be a part of, there is an extra bit of gratification that comes with winning an animal over. I welcome Gulliver into that club.

Well, hello there, lady!

Karlina!

This time, he wasn’t just watching me because he thought I was a weirdo!

Handsome (blurry) man!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, dogs, goats, gulliver, horses, lunar, mourning, photography, turkey, winslow farm

It keeps getting better!

Being away from the farm for a week was treacherous, so my excitement had doubled – impossible, I know! – by the time I got there on Monday. I visited some bunnies and the swan and made my way to the corral. Waterford was hanging out so I waited around for Deb and watched as he chowed down on a tree stump. He was excited to see me and between bites we had a great chat with lots of snorts and head scratches.

Niko spotted me from the barn and made her way across the snow. Eager for hugs, she hopped onto my shoulder perch and purred like a crazy person. Pandy appeared out of nowhere, running and wagging her tail. We played a great game of pine cone. One of the roosters even walked right up to me and hung out!

But after my time spent caring for a sick Lunar two weeks ago, I’d have to say that the most exciting part was when she spotted me from the barn and came over and planted her head over the fence. She nuzzled against me and stayed close by. I took the opportunity to hug her as often as possible. We’ve definitely bonded and it feels pretty amazing.

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Here are the best shots from the afternoon. One of these days, I’m going to get there early with the Nikon, which will spare us all from the slightly fuzzy shots that my Cybershot produces when I don’t use a flash.  Animals + Flash = Not so much. Also if you’d like to see a picture enlarged, just click on it (and then click back, it doesn’t open a new window).

And we’re back…

Niko’s face! See how she squints? She’s undergone multiple eye surgeries and continues to be a super, super friendly cat. She’s the cutest!!

By the time I pulled out my camera, Lunar had scared off Waterford. Which struck me as odd since he is super crazy – in the way I like best, of course, but still, I figured he’d nod at her and keep going. Nope. So instead, I took a shot of the poor tree stump that he went to town on. The trail of red pulp goes far and wide outside the borders of this picture and he certainly was the happiest piggy ever while annihilating the wood.

This is the now-friendly rooster with whom every encounter thus far has consisted of me waving and saying hello and him completely ignoring me. Unless I walked by him on a path. In those cases, he’d jet the other way.

The friendship grows. They’re still learning about each other and that always has its ups and downs, but they seem fond of each other; a great start.

Look at her beautiful smile!!! Still no progress with petting Lovely Athena, but I’ll never give up.

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I’ve mentioned my fascination with the alpacas before and it continues to grow. While getting the barn prepared for dinner, I looked out the door and all three beauties were silently standing there, peering around. Just as quietly, they walked off. They are such gentle hushed animals. Aside from hearing their hooves while leaping about, I’ve heard very little from them. And when they do softly utter a call, it is a surreal alien cry. My mouth actually gaped open when I overheard one of them talking to a sibling. They’re like cartoon characters! Fluffy bodies with HUGE eyes, great, great ears, and spectacular sound effects.  I cannot get enough of them!!!

I left everyone in the barn contentedly munching away and headed over to visit the sweet herd in their corral. This was the first time I’d entered the gate. A brand new barn was built in honor of their arrival and it’s really nice inside: sawdust on the floor, mangers to the side and it smells awesome! Fresh wood scent is always a treat. They have room to play inside the fence and their house looks out on the pond behind the farm. It’s beyond idyllic.

They were huddled outside, eying me, but not in a panicked way and I did not attempt to pet them. Like many of the residents at Winslow, these three had a traumatic past and I want them to be comfortable with me before I try to make contact. It’s something I do with every animal I meet and time lines on this vary.  After spending some time with them, I don’t doubt that they like me as their body language was friendly. Not fleeing was also a good sign, and they had the room to do so. I attempted a few steps closer and they moved a few steps away. So they’re not ready. It’s this same instinct – not to rush up, not to speak loudly, not to reach out, not to repeat attempts in the same visit – that guides me with Athena. If she didn’t trust me at all, she’d never enter the barn or sniff my hand with her nose touching me. But she also senses when I’m reaching out to pet her and moves away from my hand. I will gently continue trying each week and wait for her to respond. The same goes for any timid animal. In their own time, perhaps the alpacas will come around like Delilah did. Or perhaps I will just love them from afar. Either way works for me.

I hope you enjoy their precious faces as much as I do.

Look at those eyes! And those EARS! Even the sawdust look is complementary.

I absolutely think alpacas are one of the coolest breeds of anything I’ve ever seen, including all the amazing species found on nature shows and up close during my personal adventures.

Group shot! Smiling for the camera!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, behavior, cats, dogs, horses, lunar, niko, photography, piggies, roosters, sheep, spirit, swan, waterford, winslow farm