Thursday is my day in the alpaca barn, my turn to do farm chores. Of course chores get done every day, but Thursday is my day, and today I think the alpacas are excited to see me!
When we first had alpacas, I did all the chores. My husband was busy working a real job. Years passed, life happened, and Matt found himself with time to do farm chores. We took turns for awhile but before long, he was doing them every day. This freed me up to develop and grow our alpaca business, process fiber, run the store, teach classes, work on the website, crochet, knit, spin, felt, weave. It worked, for awhile. He found that there just really isn’t much stress in the barn, and that was very appealing to him. I found that I missed caring for the alpacas. So we’ve made some changes and now Thursday is my day … and I am loving it!
I love it most on sunny days, but that was not the case today. It seems to have turned to mud season … ugh!
Certainly, not a job everyone would love, but I do. Getting outside, caring for animals that count on me to bring them hay, feed, and fresh water is a privilege, really. Clearing my mind of all except the task in front of me, is therapeutic, and a welcome relief from some of the tasks of running a business that weigh me down.
I don’t waste any time putting their feed out, spreading it out in numerous different feed dishes to keep the arguing (and stress level) over who eats first and who stands where to eat, to a minimum. Yes, alpacas do spit (mostly at each other), and feeding time is when you will see it. Hence, this is the reason the inside of our barn is covered with spit.
This is Mabelle, waiting patiently. I like to put the alpacas out of the barn, then put their feed in their dishes, and then let them in. This way I have a chance to touch each one, and they have a chance to learn to trust me enough to walk that close.
This is Savannah, Amelia, and Amelia’s sister, Annalise. Sorry if there mouths are full, but it is feeding time. I put out hay in different locations, both inside and out, in Rubbermaid wheelbarrows that can be moved to different places as needed.
I start clean-up, working amongst the alpacas, wanting them to feel comfortable with me in their midst, and also because I just like being with them. In the winter, chores are actually a bit easier because we layer fresh straw over the manure each day, a system called deep bedding. The water and urine seep down to the lower layers of straw and the straw on top keeps the animals dry. Find out more caring for Alpacas in Winter. Did you know there actually is a Manure Management Handbook? I discovered it just today. It actually is quite interesting.
I add fresh water to the water troughs and heated buckets, that we switched to mid-winter, because the floating heater in the boys’ water trough gave out. The chickens get feed and water.
Fitzgerald, our angora rabbit, and the latest addition to Alpaca Meadows, gets some leafy greens, and fresh water. More about him later.
Chores don’t take that long, just depends on how much time I want to spend. It’s very peaceful in the alpaca barn. Sometimes I just enjoy sitting on a bale of straw watching the alpacas interact. Caring for the animals on our farm, as well as the two that are inside, seeing that their simple needs are met, is the least I can do for them compared to the joy they give back to me.
I finish up my chores each week by working with one or two of the alpacas, on halter training, and going on walks out of the pasture back through our woods and hay field. I worked with Martha today, three years old, but still resisting having a halter on and being led anywhere. I’m making progress, but it takes time to build trust. Today Amelia (left) and her sister Annalise go for a walk with me through the hay field. They are somewhat tentative, but have each other so it’s not quite as scarey. The walk back to the barn is at a much quicker pace.