Monday, April 3, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Alpacas

This weekend the last of our alpacas left our small ranch. We transported eight alpacas down to Oklahoma to a new owner. Outracing thunderstorms and tornado wall clouds, stopping at Braums on the way for a nostalgic burger and sundae and driving 730 miles in one day, we said good-bye to our daily life of alpacas. Today, new owners came to our place to take home our last two alpacas, our stock trailer, scale and miscellaneous items. We cleaned out the barn this morning and gave these new owners even more than they had purchased from us, at such a pitch was our purging fervor.

The odd thing is that we don't really feel the sadness everyone asks us about. While we will miss individual animals and many of the people we have met in the industry, the fact is that now with two small children, busy work lives, upcoming move and Mike's continued disc/nerve issues, we have felt overburdened. I felt joy today in how little was left in the barn and that I now do not have to feed anything more than two barn cats and our family everyday. I don't have to worry about worming schedules, shots, fly spray, breedings, pregnancy tests, transport to other farms, alpaca shows, marketing, business plans...
We loved the business, but we started it when we were childless. We had a lot more free time.

And yet, tonight when I looked out at the boys' pasture, it did seem odd not to see Cleveland munching on grass, rolling in the dust spot or spread out drying his body after the night's rains. Cleveland was the first baby born on our farm. He is now a proven sire and, after a restrictive diet, weighs in at 185 lbs. Cleve is the best of alpacas -- the poster child. He doesn't spit, kick or get flighty when perfect strangers want to love him and squeeze him and hug him. I was pleased when his new owner recognized his special qualities and declared she would never sell him. MeiLin fed him carrots, grass and stones (he passed on the the latter) through the fence since she was a year old. We'll miss him more than the others.

I feel lighter tonight. And, yet, just a little jealous of Cleve's new owner--she could be feeding him carrots and giving him a quick hug right now.

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