I have been obsessed with alpaca since I read an article in Alpenglow magazine a couple years back about an alpaca farm in Grand County. It mentioned something along the lines of how alpacas go to the bathroom in the same exact spot everyday starting from birth given the opportunity. Seriously, no one is trained that well; I was intrigued. I’m not sure you are familiar with all the little quirks of this Kramer-esque mammal, but get familiar, they’re Nature’s little gems.
There’s about 700 alpaca farms and close to 50,000 alpaca in the US, but not too many as pets, kids or husbands . . . yet! The 100 – 200 pound animal is just precious. They are afraid of humans, kids, babies, anyone. It’s amazing because you don’t have to watch your kid at every second around the pens, the alpaca will make sure to keep their distance—you can barely even feed them they’re so shy. And, the best part, they are basically silent. It’s almost eerie how quiet a pack of 50 alpaca can be midday. So a quiet, house broken, low-impact, good-looking companion, I’m sold.
Then I learned my new companion could also clothe me as well! When my girlfriend Nichole and I visited SunCrest Orchard Alpacas last month in Palisades, we were more than impressed with the sheering operation and the quality of the wool. I had read in that article how alpacas could pay for their cost of food each year by the value of their annual wool coat. However, I had no clue that only 3 percent of humans are allergic to alpaca wool and nearly 50 percent of humans are allergic to sheep wool. Wait, my new boyfriend could not only clothe people, but my friends wouldn’t be allergic. The alpaca was slowly justifying the replacement of my husband. My husband needs food, beer, etc. The alpaca eats basically grains, veggies and water.
However, the romance of a sweet owners of the farm gave me a reality check into the rewards of a spouse. When we asked SunCrest’s owner about the lifestyle of an alpaca farmer, he said he would trade the job for no other—the alpacas allowed he and his wife to work together everyday and they could spend each summer night sitting in lawn chairs amongst their animals in their backyard. (Picture the scene from Napoleon Dynamite with the mountains in the backdrop, identical!) It was pretty darn sweet and easily understandable how anyone would want to be with these majestic beings at dusk and with a cocktail. Ok, maybe the alpaca wouldn’t make for the best spouse, but a companion indeed!
SunCrest Orchards is a schlep from Denver! However, if you ever find yourself out on I-70 going West, nearing the border of Utah, pull off in Palisades and ask around about SunCrest Orchards or mention alpaca, people will know what you are talking about. The alpaca are always worth the sidetrip. (www.suncrestorchardalpacas.net)