Farm Life

Have you ever wondered what we do on an alpaca farm? This depends very much on the size of your farm and how active you can or want to be.

Daily Chores

2013-06-21 06.38.54We feed our alpacas every morning a grain mixture, prepared by a local feed mill, of Corn/Oats/Barley and Molasses. The alpaca love it and come running when they see me showing up with my little red bucket. While they eat, I count them (to be sure none was left behind), look them over and observe to be sure there is no unusual behaviour.

In the winter I fill the mangers with hay, in the summer they eat grass in the pasture. I might supplement with hay in the summer, depending on the pasture quality and if it is very cold in the winter I will feed them an extra ration of grain at night.


2014-05-18 17.06.07Once a year we shear the alpacas. On our farm, we focus on the fibre, so this is really our harvest time. We do this in the spring just to make sure they don’t get cold at night anymore, but also before the hot days of summer occur.

We tie them down just to keep them and our shearing crew safe. It does not hurt the alpaca and most of them just wait for it to be done and over with. While they are immobilized we also trim their toenails and vaccinate. Some need their teethe trimmed as well.


Ok - I will try again. Where are these legs supposed to go?Alpacas can breed anytime and for this reason, we keep the males and females in separate pastures and pens. The gestation period is 11 1/2 month and they give birth usually between 10 am and 3 pm – business hours! Of course in the wild, the crias would have to be up and running by nightfall to keep up with the herd and away from any predators.

Alpacas need very little help when they give birth and we observe from a distance just in case. Quite often we are not around to witness the birth. So the rule in our house is, whoever “finds” the new cria has the right to name it. Now I have a very powerful male called Spot – my son was 8 years old at that time and this is the name he chose.

What’s in a Name?

I do realize that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but that doesn’t mean that I believe that any of our alpacas should not have an individual name granted to each of them. By the time I write this post in 2019, most of our alpacas were born on our farm and each one is dubbed S.A.M.Y.’s Sir ____ or S.A.M.Y.’s Lady ____, depending on whether they are male or female. But the blank, that’s the name that’s hard to figure out.

Over the past 15 years, my family and I have developed a tradition for naming each wonderful cria (baby alpaca) born here. Now, our wonderful females have a habit of trying to hide when they are about to give birth. Also, no hours long labours here. Someone’s working in the barn for the day, leaves for 30 minutes to have lunch, and comes back out to find mama cleaning up her newborn. Therefore, we have figured out that whoever finds the baby, has the honour of naming it. This also means that in the 2 weeks before a due date, whenever one of us comes home from town, we leave everything in the car to rush out to the field to see if there’s a new cria. If we went out together, it’s a mad dash to the pasture. (I normally win this race because I am the fastest, Michael is slow and my parents are a little old now).

Mom and Aunti admiring Elizabeth

 Each of us seem to have developed a pattern with the names we have chosen over the years. My mom’s (Yvonne) names tend to be more traditional human names. Dawn, Katherine, Elizabeth, Joe, Henry, and Isabella are named by her. Mom also tries to insist on L names for our llamas: Leyla, Leo, Lara, and Lorenzo.

My Dad’s (Steve) likes to name his after real people. Winston is named after Winston Churchill, and Raleigh is technically Walter Raleigh or another exception Chivas Regal (Scotch Whisky).

Michael and I’s names tend to stick out a bit more. My names tend to be based on whatever story I’m immersed in at the time. Guinevere, Galahad, Anora, Aveline, inerva were all named by me. Michael so far has had the least chances of anybody to pick names so far, but Royce and Mercedes are two of his and are both named after cars.

Spot – quite obvious – he has a spot on his head!

Michael found his first cria, the one he got to name, when he was 11 years old. He knew the rules that had been established over naming rights and he had the perfect name and it didn’t matter how much we argued with him, Michael was steadfast, the name was Spot. Spot became alpha male when he grew up. That’s why we have Sir Spot ruling over all the other of nobility – Sir John, Lady Katherine, Sir Galahad…

We normally do stick with our naming traditions, but we’ve had a few exceptions over the years. Ned, aka Sir Nathaniel is named after one of my friends, Natalie. Ned was the first cria whose delivery we were present for and Natalie had been over the night before for a sleepover and was still there. We called her our good luck charm that day.

Daisy with mom Penny – named after her grandma

One of our other exceptions is little Daisy Ditch. Daisy’s grandmother had died a couple years before from natural causes on another farm, but we had been active with the owners in doing everything we could to save her, unfortunately it hadn’t been enough. Her grandmother’s name was Daisy, and it carries on with our Daisy.

Each of us has our own traditions when choosing the names we get to pick and almost always involves watching the newborn for a time to make sure our first choice will stick. But sometimes, our names have needed a slight tweak. Mom found a surprise baby in the middle of the night and after a quick check named her Angela. The name stuck until shearing day. We laid her down on the shearing matt, and Michael and I looked at the alpaca, looked at each other then back to our mother and said “Mom, you know SHE is a HE, right?” We had a good laugh and no longer fully trust Mom’s sex checks and insist that someone else double checks.

So that’s how our alpacas get their names. I wonder what they call us?

‘Till next time,