All this talk of alpaca value and speculative bubbles made me, the pragmatic naturalist, think about coyotes. I asked Annie if they've had any problems with predators, as they live right on the border of a large nature preserve. There are coyotes aplenty around here, and the fencing is no more substantial (though a bit higher) than one would use for sheep. No problems, to my surprise. Part of the answer revealed itself to me when I reached out to stroke just the outer halo of fleece on a caramel-colored female. She instantly kicked out sideways with one hind leg, like a cow. I'm glad to report that she didn't even come close to connecting; she was just warning me. But I looked at her cloven toes, horny and hard, and thought, "I would not want to be on the receiving end of a lightning fast kick from that." Coyotes aren't dumb, and alpacas can be dangerous if they want to be. They're highly individualistic in their behavior, and the one I happened to touch doesn't like to be touched. Annie told me that one of their alpacas will let you hug her, as long as she's not caring for a cria. Overall, they'd much prefer you look but not touch. With the selective breeding going on, perhaps breeders will create a huggable alpaca before too long? This would be my thrust in selective breeding of alpacas. To heck with the fiber. But then, I'd breed chickens for pettability too, forget the eggs. This is why I am an artist and not a farmer.
Here's the other part of the "no coyote problem" answer: Allie, an English pointer, who runs circles around the fields and immediately came to check me out when I leaned across the fence.Good girl!! I love a dog with a job.
Despite the gray light, I was finding plenty of cool photo-ops. When Allie got in the car, I tried to take her picture and flipped out over the reflections instead. Look carefully and you can see me self-actualizing in this portrait of Allie, a huge sycamore, and your blogger. Ahh, happy accidents. Noticing them is the soul of good photography.
Another photo-op: an alpaca peeks into the barn to see if everyone's being fed in there.I've been writing and thinking about alpacas for days, downloading dozens of photos, researching online. About every hour or so I click on the link in the last post so I can hear the alpaca orgling. It makes me chuckle. It makes me glad I work at home, SARA. I will say that it's the perfect sound background for doing your taxes. I make a similar sound as I add up stacks of itty-bitty receipts.
E-mails have been flying back and forth between Annie and me, as I invited her to correct me when I got something wrong. I got more wrong than I got right, it turns out, but if you got everything right you wouldn't learn much, would you? Occasionally, I like writing about things I know nothing about. It gives me a fresh take on a subject, and it challenges me to learn as I go. But publishing such writing, even in this modest way, is another story. I feel a great responsibility to get it right, or as right as I can get it, from my basis of zero knowledge of the subject.