October 9, 2006

Alpaca Farm

This weekend in Minnesota there was an open house program with local alpaca farms. All the farms opened their doors for the public to come meet the alpacas and learn a bit more about how they are raised and see their products all for free (if you can resist purchasing the wonderful products).

Serona sadly had to work on Saturday so the kids and I headed out to the nearest farm, about a 40 minute drive out into the country. The drive brought me back to Illinois where Serona and I lived for 5 years in a farming community. Corn fields, the smell of manure and wide open skies kind of have the same look and feel no matter where you are in the country. I was thankful that all three kids decided it was a perfect time for a nap and feel soundly asleep (which saved me from complaints of the smell especially) and I had over a half hour of listening to whatever music I wanted to (a rare opportunity for me).

We arrived at the farm and it was a very windy day. The kind of day where you second guess - did the wind really just rock my big car or am I imagining it? The kids were now thankful for the sweaters I made them bring - even though it was nearing 80 that day - it was breezy and therefore chilly out on the farm.

Neither the kids nor I had ever seen an alpaca before - so it was a neat opportunity. I of course have felt how soft alpaca wool is and now I know why after having the opportunity to pet them and feel the fur firsthand. I also thought they were very cute, rather skittish and frightened of us but cute. Sirah feel in love with them but was disappointed that they did not want to be pet much and would run away from the fence instead of towards it. We even got to pet a baby who was less than a month old and find out more about how they breed and are raised. While Sirah and I could have stayed for a long time, Ciaran's 5 year old boy patience was quickly wearing thin.

We headed inside the barn to see what else was interesting. To the kids sheer joy there were free cookies and hot cider. This bought us some time to look through and touch all the wonderful alpaca products. I was very good I did not buy any yarn at all. Though I did purchase a pair of gloves for both Sirah and Ciaran as they were only 4.00 (less than I would pay in a box store) and a really cute alpaca finger puppet that the kids fell in love with.

Rhiannon quickly gravitated towards the spinning wheel that was set up and being used in the back of the barn. She watched and asked questions and was thrilled when she was offered an opportunity to try it herself. Ciaran wandered over as well and was really paying attention to what was going on. The woman was very patient with the kids and let them take their time and really get a feel for it. At one point Ciaran just wanted to use the pedals so she took the wool off and let him just go to town on the pedals to get it out of his system. Then he asked if he could really try it and he did. While I would have loved an opportunity to try (it was offered to me) I knew better - Sirah could not handle that nor would Ciaran's patience last that long.

I knew we needed to leave on a high note so we headed out right after his turn was over and stopped back to see the alpacas one more time before heading to the car. I almost made it safely out without a breakdown but Sirah, being three, had a tantrum as we arrived at the car. I can not even recall what it was about but at least we were already to the car.

I settled in for what I figured would be a long car ride home as they realized how far we were, how much the farmland smelled and they would need the bathroom. Thankfully I had my ipod with me and the game of picking the next song and singing along seemed to keep them distracted for most of the ride home.

It was a fun way to spend an afternoon even if we spent as much, if not more, time in the car than at the farm. I figure you don't get to see alpacas and try your hand at spinning wool every day unless of course we decide to move to a farm and then alpacas might be one of the first things I would want to raise. Right next to the vineyard Serona will want to have.


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