Northern Prairie Alpacas, LLC

Fiber from pasture to product

Deb & Les Wellinghoff
7470 Jakes Prairie Rd
Sullivan, MO 63080
573-627-2341
618-558-8390 cell
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Monday, November 28, 2016

It all started with that gate latch

11/28/2016 – It’s my birthday . . . . . my 60th . . . . . . . . and it will be one to remember as it started out with a bit of crazy excitement!

Thought I would treat myself to a slow start this morning since it is my birthday. Spent the morning catching up on some emails and finishing up some paperwork. It was getting late for me, about 7:30 am, so I thought I would head for the kitchen and treat myself to one more cup of coffee before getting dressed and heading for the barn to go through my normal barn routine. Simple enough right? Well keep reading!

As I stroll leisurely through the house and walk by the sliding glass door what do I see? Well, I see an alpaca running full throttle through the backyard and as I attempt to process this visual information I see 17 more screeching out the open gate behind her. Of course I do what any sane person would do; I fly out the door in my pajamas wearing only socks on my feet. I stop VERY quickly by the porch door where I see only one option, a pair of crocs (might I add these are NOT running shoes). Again, like any sane person, I start running for the front of the house with hopes of turning this stampeding herd around before it gets totally out of hand.

Let me again paint a little picture for you because there was no time for snapping any photos or getting a video that would have no doubt won Funniest Home Videos (if that show is still on TV). I am not now, nor have I EVER been, a runner of any kind. Actually I think the last time I did anything that resembled running I was probably in 3rd grade. While I am not in the best of shape today I am grateful that I am kind of “ok” in the healthy old(er) lady department. This is me, picture it in your mind’s eye . . . . PJ’s . . . . . crocs . . . . . . have not yet even thought about combing my wild hair or brushing my teeth . . . . . already screaming at hubby (it must be his fault right?) who is outside doing barn chores on the side of the farm that houses the male alpacas and oblivious to what is taking place . . . . running to the front of the house.

I have now made my way to the front of the house and believe it or not I have done it BEFORE the thundering herd of alpacas has rounded the corner. Run right into Iris (the most adventurous alpaca on this farm, she just happens to be deaf) who is leading the stampede; she is really having fun. I manage to turn the group around and see that husband is heading my way to lend a hand. Of course Iris decides that she is NOT ready for me to calmly herd this group together and back where they belong. Now we are on the MALE side of the farm and anyone who is still reading this story that has alpacas knows what that means. We have strong fences and very efficient gates, at least when they are closed, so no worry about the boys/girls getting together but there is still lots of fireworks going on now.

Issue some more orders in the direction of my husband completely ignoring the fact that he has very bad knees and should not be running to fetch the things I am yelling about. That is when ½ of the females decide they would really like to go visit the fence line where the macho males are housed. The other ½ want to follow Iris out to the road so I need to make a decision. My decision involves more yelling at my husband to move the three yearling boys out of the area where they are so I can use the really big gate to get the boy crazy females over by the macho males. Hubby is not the best at herding/moving alpacas but he did a stellar job just in time for me to get the crazy hormonal females into the male’s pasture. Lots of spitting, growling and a bit of orgling taking place there but all is well because those alpacas (yearling males, macho males, hormonal females) are all safely behind fences and NOT together. Progress for sure!

Now for the other ½ of the females that are no longer on our property but running down the road for the intersecting road that is quite busy in the morning. More yelling at husband telling him to go get the Ranger (for you non-farm folks that is a UTV which we loving call the 4 wheeler for old people). While I am running down the road knowing I cannot run fast enough to get on the other side of the farthest alpaca to head them in the correct direction . . . . . . . for you non-farmer folks herding is all about getting on the far side of the animal furthest away from you. I am able to get close enough to the back end of a running alpaca to get her attention and she turns around to look at me. Yes, I begin screaming again but this time I am screaming at the alpacas and clapping and waving my arms. Remember my attire . . . . . . . now I am in the street in my pj’s yelling PACA PACA PACA at the top of my lungs. I start running in the opposite direction while yelling and clapping and the remaining females start running behind me. But of course Iris, it is always Iris, decides she would much rather go the other direction. Fortunately hubby is racing around the outside of the herd in the Ranger and manages to turn Iris and her momma, Rae-Lynn, around and get them running along with the others behind me and through the open gate. Iris was the first one out of the gate for the great escape and the last one through the gate at the conclusion of the round up. That Iris just loves an open gate.

So that is how I started my day on my 60th birthday . . . . . . . . since all my beloved alpacas are safe and neither Les nor I suffered a heart attack in the process I am going to call it a good birthday. Less than an hour after the excitement began I was back in the house getting that next cup of coffee.