Alpacas and flypaper don’t mix. Just ask King George, who just had to jump up and see what it was all about, and then it got all matted in his hair. Getting it out was a trick. While alpacas look huggable, because they are so fluffy, they are actually relatively aloof, and certainly prefer sporting flypaper sticking out of their dreadlocks to being fussed over. They are not like goats or dogs, who have been bred to snuggle for thousands of years. Alpacas will come close to you, and perhaps even kiss, but aren’t so into being touched. Hands wig them out. There’s even “Berserk Male Syndrome,” which is a condition for alpacas (and llamas) thought to be caused by too much early snuggling. Eventually, they can start to freak and become hyper-aggressive. So, be a reserved New Englander around alpacas.
Then, another flypaper incident this week also resulted in disaster. Shortly after I moved the flypaper out of the alpaca stall, I found it had fallen once again. This time, a star-crossed barn swallow succumbed to its treacherous stickiness. He was probably trying to be helpful, catching flies. If only he’d have caught more, I wouldn’t have had to resort to these awful insecticidal tactics. But I do have to manage the damned flies. The alpacas have designated two latrine sites, and one is in their stall. The flies just love that ... site.
Alpaca poop isn’t all bad. It’s actually a highly prized fertilizer. Technically, it can go right on your plants, without aging first, as it won’t “burn” plants. But there are pathogens in it, as well as likely traces of their monthly deworming medication (administered via syringe, which is another adventure…), so it’s better to compost it for a year, if used on edibles. Also, certain beagles (who shall remain nameless) will hopefully be less inclined to roll in/eat it once it comes to resemble dirt, rather than being so poignantly infused with the irresistible doggie perfume inherent in its farm-fresh form.
Something else about alpacas you should know: they don’t just spit at each other. That’s a myth. Trust me on this one. That might be their general intention, but if they get too excited about their food, they forget that you’re not another alpaca, and then phhhtttttppppptttt! And it’s not just saliva, it’s also gastric juices. So, I’ve learned not to give them their favorite treats when I’m dressed for work, and avoid looking them in the eye when I approach them when this special grain is present.
Barf-spit aside, they are lovely, Dr. Seuss kinds of creatures, who do impossible things with their necks and produce miraculously warm and soft fiber. Figuring out how to process it will be next spring’s puzzle. Now, I’m happy that they are munching down the grass in my paddock, and hopefully not eating the buttercup, which is toxic to them, or my various intentional plants and trees back there, such as my apothecary roses, medlar tree, blueberries, and so on. The paddock also houses my “experimental orchard.” While the alpacas do seem like the result of some awry science experiment, hopefully, the ecosystem back there will find a balance where all can coexist.