My mom and my sister took up knitting a few years ago.
They started with a class at the local library, and they have progressed into experts. My mom frequently takes classes at a specialty yarn shop, where she met Beth.
Beth owns the yarn shop and the Painted Spring Alpaca Farm.
Over the last year or so, I've heard my mom tell stories about Beth and her alpacas, and I've always wanted to ask if we could go visit. I never have.
A few weeks ago, my mom told me that Beth was having an Open House. I was excited, and I asked Grace if she'd like to go see the alpacas.
I saw 'pacas at the fair! she exclaimed.
"I know!" I told her. "We saw two little alpacas at the fair."
I saw one brown one and one black one. 'Pacas soft. They're so precious.
"Yes, they were. Would you like to go see some alpacas again? Maybe we'll even pet some!"
Today? We go see 'pacas today? My love 'pacas!
So that was that. We went to the alpaca Open House.
It was the perfect fall day, bright and sunny, but also crisp and cold and windy.
Beth has lots of alpacas. We cooed at pasture after pasture of the soft, beautiful animals. Grace was in love.
She ran from one fence to the next, climbing up and leaning to see the alpacas.
Look! One brown one! Three white ones! See the 'pacas, Mommy? Look! 'Pacas!
She spied a white baby nursing from her brown mother - Mommy, look! That baby is drinking her mommy's milk!
I know that Grace is bright, but it was amazing to listen while she observed the goings-on at the farm.
On one side of the barn, Beth and her husband had a little corral set up for this mother and (very new) baby alpaca. Hope, the new baby, was born in late September.
Visitors were permitted into the corral one family at a time to love and pet and pose with Hope and her mother.
First, we pet the mother. Her hair was soft, like an expensive fleece jacket.
Then we pet Hope.
I don't even have words to tell you how soft Hope's hair was. It was like cotton candy made from silk fibers. It was supple and downy and fuzzy.
Once we started petting her, Hope nudged us with her head.
Just like our cats at home, Hope wanted us to scratch her ears and her chin and her neck. We happily obliged.
While her mother sat, quietly monitoring us, Hope nuzzled and rubbed our hands. She loved the attention. If alpacas purred, she would totally have been.
Beth's husband, Neal, told us that alpacas aren't especially social with their caretakers. He said that the alpacas are nosy; they want to know what is happening. But he also said that they don't seek out attention or petting or brushing.
Unless they have small babies.
I thought that was interesting and odd. I thought animals with small babies were usually less docile than normal.
He also mentioned that the alpacas are a lot less friendly when they're pregnant. I totally identify with that.
I was a lot less friendly when I was pregnant, too.
On the other hand, I was not so docile when my baby was small, so maybe we're not that similar after all.
Update (10/24/09) - I received an email from Beth, the owner of the Painted Springs Farm, and I wanted to share it with you.
"I should clarify about the friendliness of alpacas after they have babies. There is only one alpaca who is lovey and happy to be fondled and petted about 2 weeks after her baby is born and you loved and petted her that day. 50% of them keep you as far away from their young as possible, the other 49.5% are indifferent and then you met Pink the .5%. She is so sweet after she has her baby that we aren't going to breed her again this fall. We are going to enjoy her lovely personality until spring when we will again breed her for another fantastic little baby like Hope.Personalities seem to run in the family. Her mother acts the same way and her sisters & babies so far are very sweet - until they get preggo."
On our way out of the barn, we ran into the farm's little shop. All sorts of alpaca wares were on sale - fibers, yarn, sweaters, socks, teddy bears, and mini alpacas.
After looking over all of the toy alpacas, Grace chose two to bring home with us.
They were instant best friends.
This one's the Mommy 'paca; this one's the baby 'paca.
Then the Mommy kissed the baby, and Grace kissed both of them.
My love 'pacas, Mommy. My love them.
(I had to ask her special permission to take the last photo. She watched carefully, just out of the shot, and then she scooped them up as soon as she saw my camera's flash.)