Thursday, January 14, 2010

Favorite and Not Such Favorite Things

This morning, at the barn, I got SPIT ON! Full face, gobbed on glasses, spit on by Daewoo the Llama. This has me particularly offended because I am forever trying to dispell the bad publicity that llamas suffer from.

I often have people here at my open houses that ask of the alpacas, "Do they spit like llamas?" and then continue to tell me of the nasty, cantankerous beast that they met.

To which I start my well-rehearsed speech about llamas having a bad reputation in North America because most people have only met them in petting zoos where they are confined to a small pen or have been improperly socialized. Llamas and alpacas both spit at each other in competition for food, sex or for a first line of defense. Pregnant females will spit at an amorous male to tell him to 'Go take a cold shower, Buddy!'. A stressed alpaca - getting examined by the vet - may spit up in the air or at the wall she is facing to express her concern. During these times, we caretakers may get caught in the cross-fire. However, properly socialized and cared for llamas or alpacas should never spit at humans.

I would like to believe that Daewoo looked a bit sheepish listening to me rant at him while wiping my face and cleaning off my glasses. And I would like to believe that he was aiming at the female alpaca that was near to me. Even after I reminded him that he was not a llama of particular endearing qualities, that he had a lot of guard hair and bad teeth and that I wasn't sure that he was earning his keep around here, he didn't look too concerned. Llamas are a bit like cats...they think we are lesser beings than their 'royal selves' and could live without all of our emotional drama.

Here's a picture of Frankie the llama. He's quite large and currently, more appreciated than Daewoo, at least today.

Here's one of our male alpaca, Striker.

Llamas and alpacas are in the same family - camelid. The most obvious difference between the alpaca and llama in the pictures are the size, the shape of the ears (see Frankie's telltale banana shaped ears?), and the shape of the head. In person, you would notice an obvious difference in the fleece. Although llama fibre can be used for textiles, llamas were originally bred for pack animals and meat. Alpacas have been bred for their fleece quality for thousands of years.
Both are extraordinary, intelligent animals.

Being larger, llamas take on a guardian role with the alpaca. If we pasture a llama with our weanling alpacas, the llama will bond with weanlings. This is particularly useful with the male weanlings - as the llama will protect the young male from the older male alpacas when they are moved to the boys pasture. Our llamas are gelded males - otherwise, they could impregnate an alpaca and thus produce a poorly fleeced cross-breed.

In this picture, you can see the difference in the size between the alpaca and the llama. This particular alpaca, Carmel, is our largest alpaca but you can see that Frankie the Llama is quite a bit taller and is likely double his weight.

Happy Day! New books arrived at the library...and since I received the courier package...I got to open the box. It's like Christmas at the library!!!
I am probably the world's slowest-reading library clerk but I can still dream of having time to read all the interesting ones!!!

I'm back at the weaving studio. I've put a warp on for a couple scarves. The warp is a handdyed 2 ply of 100% alpaca with some stripes of my handspun, handdyed alpaca\merino blend from my stash. I am weaving the first scarf with a black alpaca\merino blend milled from my own black alpacas. The colours are beautiful and the warp feels incredibly soft.

I wove and undid the first 5 inches three times before finally hoping that I have the proper tension.

Weavers will note by the pin on the woven part and the little bowtie on the back view that I broke a warp thread. Another one happened shortly after.

I'm sure things will go smoother in the studio next time....

1 comment:

Azure Islands Designs said...

YUK...I know it isn't funny Norma, but I did chuckle just a bit...sorry about that!!! :0)

I find your post about the alpacas, llamas, and your work fascinating...learning about unique and interesting aspects of others lives has always been something I've enjoyed!!!

Both the alpacas and the llamas have their own appeal but the llama looks rather dignified, where as the alpaca looks cute and cuddly...I can see the superior attitude in Frankie's stance...

The weaving looks a bit complicated...wonderful results though!!!

A little warmer for a few days...but then that means snow...can't have everything I guess!