October 28, 2006
Spent the day at Blue Lake Alpacas, learning a little more about these little creatures. Amazingly, they are mostly farmed as an investment, not for their fibre (at least in this country) because they cost tens of thousands of dollars, but they are insurable, unlike stock market investments. The fibre is amazing quality; finer and less scratchy and more soft and warmer than sheep wool--but because there are only a 100,000 in the states, there is not enough demand to have a special alpaca mill to make the fibre the driving force for farming the alpacas. The aim is to create a million alpacas in the states to make the fibre worthwhile. In the meantime, it's an investment. Interesting, I thought! These creatures are similar to the llama (another camelid), but smaller, and less domesticated which means that they are easier to deal with (size wise), but they are more skitish. Today, we gave them injections--good practice for us, though I think we stressed the herd out by being so many in number (8 vet students). I learned lots, and had fun playing in the rain, the owners were SO nice (even gave us cookies and a little toy alpaca when we left!)--they really hoped to get us out there to increase the likelyhood of us learning more about alpacas because there are not really dedicated alpaca doctors, and most vets treat them like sheep or goats. But the difference is that alpacas are worth thousands of dollars as opposed to $10-60. Therefore, the owners are willing to pay for fixing them instead of sending them to slaughter! Cool.