Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The truth about alpacas
Intrepid, semi-anonymous reader R. asks, "What is it with the sisters Don and alpaca farms? Mystical kinship, like daemons in His Dark Materials perhaps?"
Well, R., let me tell you a story.
I have liked alpacas since I first started knitting. I think that they are really cute, which I will demonstrate with some photos of the last time we visited the alpacas:
I also really like their fibre, which is very different from sheep's wool. It's very soft, and super warm. It also had no lanolin (the heavy, oily substance that sheep naturally produce that softens their wool and is sometimes used in cosmetic products to soften your skin).
The family's obsession with alpacas actually dates back to the summer of 2007. That summer, my parents spent three months house and cat sitting on a tiny island off the coast of British Columbia.
(There were also some deer involved.)
Youngest sister and I were able to go out to visit them for three weeks at the end of the summer, and had a blast touring around the wee island, as well as visiting Vancouver Island. When we went off Island, we would take a ferry across, so any trips off really needed to be quite substantial. One day, we went driving to visit Coombs, BC, where there are goats on the roof, and my dad promised that each of us could choose one place to stop, with no questions asked and no protests from other passengers in the car.
One of the first places we drove past was an alpaca farm. I put in my request for a stop as soon as I saw it, but it was close to lunchtime and everyone wanted to eat, so I was told we could visit it on the way back. Youngest sister had never seen alpacas before, so she was quite excited; we could see about twenty of them grazing in the fields.
Coombs wound up being such a good time that we spent the whole day there, and by the time we were making our way back to the ferry dock, the alpaca farm was closed for the day. As we drove past, Dad slowed down so that we could have a good look at the alpacas.
"I want them to look at me," said youngest sister.
"You have to call the alpacas," said my dad. "If you yell, 'alpaca alpaca alpaca' really loud at them, they will look at you."
"Really?" said youngest guilelessly. She rolled down her window, stuck her head out, and yelled, "Alpaca alpaca alpaca!" very quickly.
Sure enough, all of the alpacas turned to look at her. It was quite funny. Perhaps you had to be there.
(A month later, when my parents were driving back the 4700 km. across Canada, they stopped in Drumheller, AB, to visit the dinosaurs. They drove past a field where some horses were grazing. My dad pulled over the van, snapped a picture of the horses, and then yelled "Alpaca alpaca alpaca!" and took another picture of the horses. In the second picture, the horses are all looking at the camera. My dad swears this is true.)
And that is the story of why the sisters Don are obsessed with alpacas--and that doesn't even get into the slew of awesome alpaca related puns that can be made.