Category Archives: llamas

Alpaca a snack

Many years ago, when it was just Pisca, Karolina, and Noelle (plus Star but he was from a different location and was kind of on the outskirts of their clique), I set out to socialize these beautiful creatures. They’d been living at an alpaca farm with many others and when the owner was no longer able to afford them, all of them needed new homes. These three came to Winslow to live out their days in peace.

They were very people-shy and uninterested in human touch. One of the ways that I try helping at Winslow is to socialize animals who’ve given up on people. I worked very hard with Athena, the sheep who lived on a median strip on 495, and by the end, I was able to lie down with her. I continue to work with Justice, a once-feral goat, who now eats a treat from my mouth. And I’ve focused a lot of energy on these beauties.

Before Pisca passed of old age (r.i.p. little lady), she was pretty comfortable eating grain out of a bowl that I was holding. Karolina became comfortable enough to eat grain right out of my hand. And Noelle would grab a bite from the bowl now and again.

Once Fern and Charlotte, and then Leia and Sundae, arrived at Winslow, there were a lot more personalities floating around and trying to hand feed seven alpacas became less of a focus for me. Until last week.

I was going about my chores, getting ready to feed the donkeys who were loudly exclaiming that it was taking too long. Gabriele, the llama, was lurking around the barn during this, which was a little rare. He usually goes to his little house, perched in the alpaca enclosure, without much protest. As I grabbed the donkey food and was setting out to feed them, Gabrielle put his nose right into the bowl and started eating it. I feed him a couple of fortune cookies each week as a little bonding ritual so hand-feeding him was normal but he’d never just shoved his nose into a bowl while I was clearly on my way to do things.


The donkeys were like, “Hey! That’s ours!”


But Gabriele was like, “So? Mine now.” I gave in and let him munch, refilled the bowl, and went off with to the two cursing donkeys.

I came back and he was still there. It was clear that he wasn’t going to budge from his spot and I realized that it was because it was icy and he was not having any of it. Here I am on the other side trying to coax him to come over.


To be fair, it was pretty terrible out.

So, yes, I started bribing him.

I finally got him to trudge through the ice and continued feeding him from the bowl inside the enclosure. Good boys must be rewarded! This peaked Karolina’s interest and she started heading my way. Soon enough, she was eating out of the bowl while Gabriele was eating a handful out of my hand.

The rest of the alpacas watched curiously. “What is she doing?” they seemed to say. “She’s never done this before.” And they stood, stock-still, behind her contemplating this new arrangement. Noelle came forward to eat but Karolina kept squawking at her to back off. I kept encouraging Noelle to ignore her but her daughter won that round. She waited until Karolina was done and found all the leftovers on the ground.


Alpacas are wonderful, curious creatures. They have interesting quirks that I haven’t found in other animals. They blink differently, they argue with each other in amusing tones, and most fascinating to me, they scream at big dogs. I’d never heard anything like that the first time I heard it! I’ll see if I can dig up video.

Mostly, though, I’d like to get into a big snuggle pile with them. I’m not holding my breath that it’ll ever happen, but I’m definitely crossing my fingers!


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Filed under alpacas, donkeys, llamas, rescue, sanctuary, socialization, winslow farm

Extra day, extra work?

I went to the farm an extra day this week and worked in a different part. The twelve year old that trained me and a different fourteen year old were running the big barn where Deb had asked me to help out. Whereas the barn I do on Mondays only has four animals directly associated with it and a couple indirectly associated, this is the barn where all the ponies, the other horses, the mules, the llamas, the emus and a zillion goats live. These two girls had their routine down pat and every time I asked if I could help, I got a sing-song “Nah, I’ve got it” back.

Well, that’s not completely true; I did get to sweep off some mats. For those uninitiated in this task, there are rubber mats in the stalls that are usually underneath the food trough or close by. Horses are messy eaters and and they’ll eat the leftovers off the ground, so it’s necessary to sweep the mats to prevent them from eating sawdust and straw. At least, I think that’s the purpose of the mats. I’ve never actually asked. Another thing about sweeping the mats? It’s a total ocd nightmare! Little pieces of riffraff creep back on them no matter matter how much time you spend sweeping them off. Lacking the ability to just walk away, I can be found going over them with growing intensity until I finally stalk off, forcing myself not to look back and see a determined piece of straw triumphantly take back its spot. Because Lunar knows how much I love this task, she likes to follow me into her pen when she see the broom. While I sweep her mat, she kicks the sawdust right back where I’ve just swept it off. Big giant piles of it! I sweep it off. She kicks it on. I sweep it off. She kicks i-Arrrggghh!

I also offered to take the pee blankets out to hang on the fence. When I asked if I could help, I think that the girl bringing them out of the barn was worried that I might complain about getting dirty. Perhaps my coat is deceiving. I’ve certainly been spotted as an intruder on more than one occasion (many times by the same volunteer) and I’m pretty sure it’s because of how I’m dressed. My coat is a black, hooded, squall jacket that goes down past my knees and keeps me super warm and still looks new though I’ve had it for a while. All the other volunteers wear sweatshirts or ratty clothes. What they don’t realize about my coat is that it’s my “pet sitting jacket”. This means that it’s been a home to all sorts of animal fluids. Too much? Needless to say, handling a bunch of filthy blankets was no problem for me.

While I stood around the rest of the time, being useless, I took the opportunity to take some photos and videos. And away we go!

Out back, I watched for a while as the ponies horsed around (ha!). The whole lot of them kept running back and forth. Some were whinnying and kicking and the rest were running just to stay out of the way. Whenever I’ve passed through the area, they’re just stand there chomping on things, so this was an interesting deviation.

The lineage of ponies is as follows: there is a male, the little tan one, who has a daughter and a grandson in the barn. And then there’s another mare who little tan guy mated with that produced a daughter and they’re also in the barn. I’m not sure which of his relatives made him so angry though because they all look alike. At one point, I watched him back the biggest one into a corner and kick like crazy. Though it may have looked like his young successor had the upper-hand in the video, don’t be fooled. Grandpa can hold his own!

Here are the llamas. Watching them. In the exact same spot. With the exact same dazed look. The entire time. I love it!!

Look at the mug on this guy! Ooh, his ears are pinned back at me! I’m pretty sure we’ll be friends someday. Hopefully.


Emus are strange, strange creatures.

Just a smidge of info on this photo: to the left of the emu is a door made up of plastic sheets that are big and awkward and sort of need to be shoved through. These flaps hit him every time a goat or person goes in or out.

Grooming time! Goats lick their feet like cats do. This fact makes me happy.


As dinnertime draws near, many of the animals start wandering in. Due to the fact that there are about a million goats, they’re the most prevalent random shots of fur in this photo, but look closely and you can also see an emu and a pony. Maybe next time, I’ll get a photo that better represents the chaos, but I’ll have to stop spending all my time petting everyone first.


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Filed under behavior, emus, goats, horses, humor, llamas, photography, videos, winslow farm