Turns out I’m that person you know that ‘might take your sheep for you.’ Turns out I’m that person that gets an email a day to inquire whether I’ve got room for another cat. Or a goose. Or a cow.
Over the past couple of weeks, a rash of new animals has arrived.
Three new Cotswolds: Iris, Mocha & Latte (Iris & Mocha are actually Cotswold Romney crosses) have joined our Lavender & Hester in the pasture with the 25 Shetland sheep. They are just the sweetest girls, with collars and bells so they tinkle when they walk, and giant mutton-chop sideburns that run along their jaw, but also some sort of brow-nose-burns that give them a mucho-fuzzy-faced look. They are getting along well with the other animals, having no quarrels with the alpacas, the goats, the other sheep or even the horses. Apparently at their old home, they were accustomed to a companion-mini-donkey & horse and were handled frequently their whole lives. It shows. They are quite tame and we fell in love instantly. Sadly their previous owners had some changes in their life that had them searching for a new pasture for them tout de suite this past month, and our farm was discovered & sought out.
I’ve been corresponding with their owner, Alyssa, frequently to give updates and commend her on her fine rearing. I am hopefully reassuring her with the news and keeping the communication lines open so she is comfortable to contact me if she ever wants a report.
Next, two new white alpacas named Wilbur & Fluff-head joined our merry band. Apparently they have actual registered names of Helios & Powder, but as dignified as those names are, Wilbur & Fluff-head have already stuck. They’re from East Montpelier, VT, and they came via a beautiful trailer last weekend, a few hours after the Cotswolds arrived.
Bigger than the two alpacas we already own, white and ghostlike during the week of All Hallows’ Eve, they had/have presence in the pasture. Nessie, our Border Collie pup, has indoctrinated them into the world of dogs as they’d had limited exposure at their original home. She loves to greet them every morning by running around the tree near their pasture, running up to the fence to say hi, running away when they approach her. They should’ve been named “Patience” & “Tolerance.”
When you pull up to our home now, you are flanked by alpacas left, right and center.
Yesterday, 4 more alpacas arrived from Randolph, VT. When I was at the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival, as we were packing up and preparing to leave, a gentleman came over with a flyer with a beautiful photo and told us that “these alpacas needed a good home and we should call the owner.” I phoned Ben and we chatted about his crew. He’d had 6 to place, but by the time we’d conversed, he was in need of a home for 4. He sent me a video disc to introduce the herd and show me around the farm where they’ve lived for the past 8 years. I don’t own a trailer and so Ben, & his wife Tina, delivered them for us, catching us up on their history, their care, and their personalities, as well as allowing them a visit of our farm. We learned that Ben was having some back pain and recovering from surgery, no help from his skydiving adventures, which limited his ability to move hay bales and care for the animals on the day-to-day schedule. Recognizing that winter only makes farming harder, and no helpers left on a regular basis around their home, their family had had to make the difficult decision to part with their animals. He & Tina were obviously loving, good alpaca-parents for all of these past years, hand-raising the animals so that they are easy to care for, healthy and beautiful.
Fuzzy, fluffy plush toys, they stepped off the trailer, surveying with their gorgeous soulful eyes, making gentle mewing inquiries. I love alpacas, and I respect the way they are curious and tentative, conservative about sharing, patient to learn.
So now, in addition to Hayden & Indy, our two resident alpaca zen-masters, and Fluff-head & Wilbur, the new white boys, we’ve got: TB – a tall, dark drink of water, Poncho – the cinnamon-colored, in your face big boy, beautiful Olivia – a sweet lil creampuff and mama to 2-year old Jessie – the chocolate-y puff-ball.
I heard from Ben & Tina today that they had had a rather emotional time leaving the farm, and for that I am sorry. I know how much they loved their animals and what a difficult decision it is to make to have to part with your babies. I hope I do right by them and can keep up the good work. I think that I can.
You know the buck doesn’t stop here. You know there’ll be more stories, more hooved & feathered friends to find their way to this farm in the future. And I won’t even start about the goose that I’m on call for rescuing from the Orvis pond, or the calf that was supposed to arrive last Wednesday…
Don’t fret, reports will come, all in due time.
People are noticing the writing on my forehead, the sign I obviously carry around, the sky-writing above me that says “Bleeding Heart.” I stand strong in the face of such accusations because I know that I am of sound mind and also, I have faith that the size of my heart is surprisingly accommodating.
Of course there are physical limitations to being able to take in every rescue, help out every cause. Of course I am aware of managing resources.
However, it is a reassuring feeling to know how much love human beings are capable of.
And it is precisely why I stay hopeful.