Sleet is a Beacon in the Night

We had been living at our new house in the country for about 3 month and were very new to this alpaca farming.  The barn was and still is always open, so the alpacas can come and go to the pasture as they please. They got into a rhythm to come in by night fall and everybody was settled in nicely.

boysarrived… it was a dark and stormy night! The alpacas were safely “tucked away” in the barn and cold rain was coming down hard. My daughter and I were driving back from skating practice down the old dirt road towards our farm. Half a mile before home there was a pick-up truck parked partially on the road with its high beam on and almost blinding me. My thought of course was .. who on earth would be doing something like that. How annoying and dangerous .. and so on until I was close enough to see that this was my husband’s pick-up truck. Oh, oh, this was bad news.

I pulled over and jumped into the cold rain and hollered out into the dark. My son, only 6 years old at the time, came running towards me, bundled up in some over-sized rain gear crying that the alpacas were out, and they can’t get them back, and they are always running away, and they are not listening, and that he was cold, and that he hated alpacas and ….. By that time my husband caught up to him and confirmed the story, in a much calmer way but with the same content. Anyway, the alpacas were out!  The two of them had been trying to herd them back to the barn, keeping an eye on the road, expecting us home soon. (This is 2004 – before cell phones!)

We parked both kids together at home and enlisted the help of a neighbour and went back out to the field. The alpacas were out on the neighbour’s fresh harvested corn field, chomping away. They stayed together as a herd, but kept running up and down the field between the road and the next not harvested corn field. It was so dark, we had a hard time to see them. There were 6 of them, all dark brown and black except Sleet. Sleet is a snow white alpaca and every once in a while we saw him “popping up” in the darkness. He was like a beacon in the night.

sleetmcduff2004The three of us were chasing these alpacas all over the place, trying to herd them back towards the barn. It did not work. Alpacas are fast and I was pretty close to my son’s mantra from earlier this evening. And then all of a sudden the herd turned around and ran back to the barn! Why? No idea! It sure was not our doing.

What did I learn that night? Gates can break in a nasty storm. Alpacas don’t really run away, they stay close to the barn and the rest their herd. They are fast and a little bit – cheeky?!