Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Alpaca Check In

My dad and I headed up to his 1,100 acre ranch outside of the small farming community of Winifred, Montana this past weekend.  This trip served several purposes for me - enjoy a rare opportunity alone with my father, take a break from the constant work back home and check in on some alpacas that we had sold to a local couple several months earlier.

We arrived at the Winifred apartments early enough in the evening to go down to the ranch and drop off the heavy equipment to we had towed three hours from Bozeman.  We drove around in the Kabota, traversing the dry juniper and Douglas fir terrain.  Rocky trails leading into Dog Creek slowed us only temporarily, but we made up time as we sped over the wide, vast plains of the Missouri Breaks.  The winter wheat was just starting to sprout, giving a welcoming Spring-like glow to the fields. Hundreds of acres of dirt and sprouts dropped off immediately over cliffs hundreds of feet below to rock and clay ravines.

The next day, we initiated our plan for the Spring clean up after the winter season.  I began on the lawn mower, slicing down the overgrown lawns of the old homestead.  Dad decided to improve the trail system some distance away by rearranging a mass amount of soil worthy of four-wheelers and a skid-steer to pass over.

Our time was cut short by an appointment at the tire shop and we headed into town.  We dropped off the Kabota, grabbed some lunch and drove around the back roads of the area, eventually crossing the Missouri River.

That night, it started to rain and then rained harder. The lightening looked like camera flashes in the windows.  Thunder rumbled in the walls.  I have always loved big storms, but I knew this would alter - if not end - our time at the ranch.  By morning, the weather had not let up.  There was no way to get into the ranch because of the miles gumbo roads now leading up to it.

This lead me to the opportunity to check in on 4 alpaca boys we had sold months before.  The couple had sheep and after meeting with us last fall, decided to add to their quadruped family.  In the wind and sleet, we caught them in the barn.  Drenched and not sure if they were happy to see me again, they looked around for who was going to make the next move.

I love my job as an alpaca farmer.  From having the babies and seeing them grow to creating textiles and going to shows to sell our fares, I enjoy almost every aspect of the alpaca lifestyle.  The hardest part for me is letting them go.  Not only because I really care about each of our 150 creatures, but I have a presumptive and idealistic thought that no one could care or love them like I do.  Impossible.

I am happy to say that these boys found a good home.  They share 50+/- acres of lush grass fields with 20+/- ewes and lambs.  They seemingly have taken on a semi-protective role for their new herd. They feed easily out of their new caretakers hand, which is always a good sign to me.

Dad and I trenched back to the Winifred apartments, changed out of our soaking clothes and prepared to take off for home a day early.  All of my missions in Winifred accomplished.  What a great way to start the Summer.

Check out our website at www.AlpacasOfMontana.com