Last weekend, the Neanderthol went to an all-nighter at a friend’s home, about twenty miles away. The next morning, we had the pleasure of collecting him from the remains of the party, which was made much less onerous by the virtue of this friend owning three lovely alpacas, kept in a fairly large paddock next to the house.
Now, I haven’t had the pleasure of being up-close and personal with these delightful creatures before, although I’ve wondered how amenable to human companionship they might be when online friends have posted pictures of their animals on social media websites. One of the earliest bonding activities that the Creative Group at Bedlam Farm held wan an impromptu internet party (in the absence of our founder, Jon Katz), that involved some rather dubious images of various animals (pets) in party hats, which then became pirate hats – one of the most amusing was Faith’s alpacas in full party regalia, complete with extending blow-outs (amongst other things). I recall laughing ’til I cried many times on that first party evening, which I think was when the general description of the group as ‘Farmies’ also began. But I digress… (tell me you’re not surprised!).
So, when Toby’s friend, Anastasia, offered to allow me to get into the field WITH the alpacas, I naturally jumped at the chance to get some really nice close-ups of her terrific trio and their trusty nursemaid, Enid, the sheep.
Enid, it turns out, was much less intimidating than I had imagined. I have no idea what level of intimidation I had actually envisioned would be forthcoming from a sheep, but lets just say, for now at least, that I was a tad wary of her. I think it’s entirely possible that I was infinitely more intimidating to her, but I don’t like to dwell too much on the idea that I might be scary to other creatures. She was lovely, really. Not grumpy or passive-aggressive at all. Not really.
With the gate secured behind me, I ventured, possibly rather too speedily for Enid’s liking, further into the paddock, my eyes locked on the object of my longing- three gorgeous looking alpacas munching calmly in the far corner of the field. All four animals, Desmond, Maurice and Max as well as Enid looked up pretty quickly, noting that one of those human bods had trespassed into their territory. They eyed me, quizzically, for a few moments until Enid stamped her front foot, warning me that she considered me a threat. I slowed my pace and tried smiling, that oddly human gesture that means (to other humans usually) ‘I’m friendly! I just want to meet you is all… nobody needs to get antsy or anxious, things will be fine!’ but of course, the animals didn’t really know this. The alpacas shifted slightly in their positions, all watching me intently as I furthered my approach.
I checked my ‘making-contact-with-alien-species’ armoury of appropriate tactics. Along with the smile, I slowed my pace to a near-stationary creeping-crawl (but, upright, on two legs of course – I’m not a cat!), adopted a medium-pitch timbre in my voice and slowly held out my left hand, in the universal gesture of friendship. As long as I recognised that ‘universal’ in this case meant diddly-squat.
The alpacas were at these closer quarters, much smaller than I had imagined. Maybe it was camels I had in my mind’s eye – clearly, these animals were not as much of a threat to me as I had feared.
Maurice, although initially rather skittish, soon found his curiosity piqued.
I raised my camera and began clicking away, noting the plenteous supply of apples on the tree behind the animals, possible just a little to tantalisingly high for them to reach. They seemed happy to pose for me, showing me their best sides, coming in a little closer, but then skipping away if I held my hand out too eagerly. Clearly, with these guys, less is more! Enid moved off once she realised I wasn’t intending to harm her boys. I like that sheep.
The alpacas and I danced a somewhat torpid tango as I edged closer to the apple tree. I plucked a juicy drupe and offered it to Max and then to Maurice. Desmond was almost convinced that he could take my offering, but then he changed his mind at the last moment. It wasn’t to be.
They were happy to allow me in their paddock, but it would clearly take a good while to gain their trust sufficiently for them to eat out of my hand. I was genuinely boued by the encounter though – I think I’d like to get to know these little chaps a bit more. I hope I’ll be able to!
Thanks for reading again!