Tuesday, September 10, 2019

365: Alpaca Day

September 9 is Alpaca Day. Our natural course of action to celebrate was to visit alpacas. In preparation for the day, I struggled harder than I imagined to find an alpaca. The Cincinnati Zoo has one, but it is locked up. Parky’s Farm has one, but I couldn’t find any definitive information about petting that alpaca. There are alpaca farms that were closed all around the area, as tours seem to be mostly a weekend thing. But then, I found my saving grace, Anne, at Alpaca Paradise Farm in Goshen. I read that I could text her, so I shot her a quick text about what I was looking to do. Anne responsed quickly, and we made plans to meet today.
Alpaca Paradise is in Goshen, Ohio about 30 or so minutes from downtown Cincinnati. It was a little bit of a hike, but it was well worth the drive. Katie and Q drove with us. When we got there, we were greeted by a small house with green pastures behind it. Anne greeted us and the babies, and she took us back to meet her alpacas.
The alpacas were breathtaking creatures. They were docile and kind in their interactions, and it was obvious that Anne loves them and that they love Anne back. Anne gave us carrots to feed the alpacas. I was worried at first about Jude feeding them, but I modeled how to do it one time and then him and Quinn zipped around the barn feeding carrots to excited alpacas.
I was also concerned that Jude and Quinn would be afraid of the alpacas because they were big and different. It turned out to be quite the opposite. The kids loved the alpacas, and so did the adults. While I did keep a watchful eye on the kids, the alpacas never gave me a reason to feel any concern. They gave the kids kisses on their heads. They sniffed their hands. They walked around them if they were standing in the way. The alpacas loved the babies.
Anne was incredibly knowledgable about alpacas and cheerily talked about them and answered any question we had about them. I will list some of my favorite alpaca facts:

1. Alpacas didn't come to the US until the late 80s.
2. Alpacas don't have top teeth.
3. Alpacas gestation is around a year.
4. Alpacas' coat is called 'fleece'.
Something I found quite beautiful about Alpaca Paradise is that there were generations of the same lines of alpacas there. My favorite pair,  Little Brown and Indy, were a mom and son duo. Indy had the biggest personality, but he ultimately stuck pretty close to his mom. He also still nurses (at 16 months when the average nursing period is 6 months). I feel like Little Brown and Indy are the Jude and Mama of the alpaca world.
We got to watch the alpacas get hosed down after we fed them. Alpacas love to get hosed down, and when Anne called for them and showed them the hose, they all came out one by one running toward it to get a hose down.
The tour is free, but there is a gift shop that you won't be able to pass up and it's a great way to support Anne and her gang. The items range from higher prices alpaca fleece creations all the way down to $2 finger puppets. If gift shops aren't your thing, donations are also accepted.
While it doesn't seem like the first thing that you would bring a toddler or small child to do, it is a truly unique experience that I feel confident that all children (and adults!) will love. Anne runs tours on Fridays and Saturdays, but if those days do not work out, you can contact her to see if she can fit you in another time. You can also rent out an alpaca for a wedding reception, graduation party, or birthday party. For more information about tours, booking, or the farm, you can visit their website or contact Anne at anandaowens@hotmail.com.

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