Living with Unicorns (sort of)by guest blogger Jodie Esch
My husband and I have an interesting hobby on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Six years ago we moved back to the country and decided to raise alpacas. Bizarre as this statement sounds, this wasn’t a random decision. We had researched alpaca ranches in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California and even Peru. Filled with dreams and plans for our mini-farm, we embarked on our journey.
My first objective was to raise animals we wouldn’t be eating. I couldn’t handle the thought of selling something that would turn into someone’s meal. And the animals needed to be easy-care, as I’m a writer in between the farm chores.
The alpaca is a domesticated species of the South American camelid and it resembles a small llama. Many people confuse the two animals, but alpacas have straight ears and llamas have banana-shaped ears. Alpacas are also smaller than llamas and are not used as pack animals. They are bred specifically for their fiber and are shorn once a year like sheep. Alpaca fiber is used to make knitted and woven items such as blankets, sweaters and hats. My husband learned to shear alpacas and he also creates alpaca duvets.
Every alpaca born on our farm receives a Spanish name and over the years I’ve had fun naming the cria (babies). Rafael, Diego and Paco were some of our males. Paco was ultra-cute and followed me around like a puppy. Neva and Esmerelda were sent to new owners across the country. Angelina, Carmalita and Martina were sold locally.
Today we have two young females, Serafina and Violeta. All of our alpacas have distinct personalities and unique ways of interacting with each other.
When I’m fatigued with writing and need a change of pace or simply want to clear my head, I head to the alpaca barn and fields. As I rake and clean up, I think about my work-in-progress. I write YA fiction and my main characters swim in teen angst. Going outside to visit our alpacas is a welcome relief.
I’m accepted into the herd and as I walk amongst them, watch their antics and listen to their unique humming sounds, I’m transported into their gentle way of being. Unexpectedly, alpacas have become a support to my writing.
Many thanks to the Wet Noodle Posse for inviting me to be their guest blogger today. As you can see, alpacas do an excellent imitation of a wet noodle!
Jodie Esch writes YA fiction and currently has a series underway. The first book, Liar, was awarded second place in The Sandy Writing Contest (childrens/YA category) sponsored by Readers in the Rockies in Crested Butte, Colorado. She was pleased to attend the conference and to have an opportunity to read an excerpt from Liar to an audience of readers and writers. In her spare time, Jodie loves reading, cooking and entertaining friends, and she blogs at Confessions of a Young Adult Author.