The rain came down softly but persistently as I stepped out of the car in my orange Hunter Wellies. It had been raining all morning but that wasn’t going to stop us on this adventure. We had arrived at a small farm in Wales to walk Alpacas!
Gayle, the owner of Snowdonia Alpacas met us as we arrived, giving us the safety rundown before we got on to the good stuff. Once we had washed hands and received out safety brief, we headed into the alpaca pen where she told us a brief history of the alpaca animals. Full of knowledge Gayle told us all about what they eat, how they are bred, their personality types and all about the fiber their coats produce. In general, I think she could write a book on alpacas.
After we learned all about them, we got to feed the alpacas their snacks! For the next few minutes we had several alpacas eating museli-like feed mix from our hands. Their furry noses tickled my hands, constantly looking for more food.
When snack time was finished, the alpacas were haltered and we got a quick lesson in leading them around. Walking an alpaca wasn’t unlike leading a horse but much much smaller. Kind of a combination between a horse and a well trained doggo. We then proceeded in a line following Gayle to tour her farm. We stopped to meet the rheas, which are giant flightless birds that help eat pests on the farm. Every animal on her farm has it’s purpose, Gayle explained. We then ventured to see the piglets and two different types of sheep. Stopping to feed some and learn all about the differences between hilltop breeds and other breeds of sheep, of which she has both. We even got to feed the sheep too, though she warned us that we’d get wet legs if we went in the field, so I decided to stay outside. My jeans were the one thing I was wearing that wasn’t waterproof.
As we walked through the farm we learned about self sustaining farming and all she does to make the area as natural and beautiful as possible. She even focuses on things as small as bringing certain bugs back into her farm’s ecosystem so they can do their important parts. It was all very fascinating and if she doesn’t write a book about alpacas and their wool, Gayle should write a book about self sustaining farming.
After the walk we returned the alpacas to their pen for a nice rest and said our goodbyes. Over the two hours we were there we learned so much information. I had no idea I was in for such a lesson that day, but I’d definitely recommend anyone visiting Wales (when you’re allowed to again, that is), to check her out. Especially, if you take my advice and head to Portmeirion as she’s less than half an hour away.
Here are some fun facts we learned about Alpacas:
Alpacas are the smaller, (IMHO) cuter, and less spitty cousin to the llama. That’s right, alpacas don’t really spit too often unless you’re doing things that truly upset them like mess with their baby.
A breed created by humans for their wool, there aren’t really any “wild” alpacas.
Alpacas can come in a range of over 20 different colors!
A crimped coat is the best on alpacas as it tends to naturally want to wind into wool.
They don’t have teeth on the top of their mouth so even if they mistake your finger for a snack, it won’t hurt you.
Alpacas are INCREDIBLY soft.
The best wool comes from baby alpacas, but they aren’t sheered until they are one.