Even the alpacas whose place of origin is in the high mountains of Peru, are hunkering down inside their cozy barns and bungalows, and are nowhere to be seen.
Last week, during the milder weather the animals, in particular the two little boys, Mocha and Dio, were feeling a touch of spring fever. With the longer daylight hours and the sparse grass exposed in the pastures, the entire herd was spending most of each day outside in the pastures. One afternoon, Rich and I strolled around the end of the barn to find the boys neck wrestling, chest butting and generally frolicking in the barnyard. You can't help but laugh at those two frisky, young alpacas.
Mild mannered Mocha, a year older, outweighs young Dionysus, who is definitely the instigator in most cases. Because of his sweet nature, Mocha, never seems to play too roughly with the little guy. They seem to be good company for each other. It's a good thing that they do because it keeps them from agitating their mother, Mango, who is in the pasture with them. Soon that situation will have to change for two reasons. In another month it will be time to wean Dionysus. At about that same time I expect Mocha to begin showing serious signs of having male hormones. Both of them will have to be separated from Mango for obvious reasons and our only other male is herdsire, Nikko. Now that he has had a chance to "romance" the females, Nikko is under the impression that he is the "king" of the herd. He tends to be a little hostile toward the younger males and so they can't be put into the pasture with him lest he harm them. Since these two younger guys have been living in the same pasture for some months and are used to each other, we should be able to put them together in their own pasture.
A few weeks ago before my trip to Florida, I had the chance to do a spinning demonstration for a daycare/preschool center in a town where I taught for many years. I always enjoy teaching the little ones about alpacas and the uses for their fleece. I have samples of cleaned and carded, un-spun fleece, otherwise known as roving, for them to touch and play with and several knitted scarves and shawls for them to hold. I show them pictures of our alpacas and tell them a bit about the size and nature of the animals. Far and away the most fascinating part of the short demonstration for the kids is the spinning wheel and the magic of spinning fleece into yarn.
I always make a point of letting each child come to the wheel and make it go around. They seem to like the feel of pedaling first one foot then the other, much the same as their tricycles, and watching the wheel spin faster and faster. I hope it impresses some of them enough to want to give real yarn spinning a try when they are older.
At the end of every presentation I answer questions and then we pose together for pictures that I can post on the blog and they can hang in their classroom.