“The Pacas are Coming!” – National Alpaca Farm Days

Pirate flags
Pirate flags

Well, Talk Like a Pirate Day 2016 is over and we are getting back to some semblance of normalcy,  i.e. using a commonly understood  dialect and not AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHTICULATING in the little-used (no mystery why), limited pirate vocabulary  that comes out every September 19th around this house.

I tried to give myself a  break and recycle the original 2015 post. (How much more can one add to the “imaginative” facets that make up this “beloved” holiday? And, as those of you who received 3 emails from me found out, I don’t know how to repost.)

I kept at it and did manage to get something published after over 2 frustrating hours and numerous attempts. So much for giving myself a break!

During the fiasco I received advice from some of you and instructions and encouragement on trying this  reposting routine again.  I blame you (Melinda and Clive are you reading this?) if I lose half my followers. I can expect just so much tolerance and patience from them. So, here goes… (I know, Hariod – you hate ellipses, but surely you can see how well it fits in this situation?)

Roxie reading the Pacas Are Coming!
Roxie reading the Pacas Are Coming!

Last September, I wrote about National Farm Alpaca Day. I really love alpacas and my latest book, The Pacas Are Coming! ZuZu and the Crias   is all about them with lots of photos (much to Roxie’s chagrin).  I’m going to try to repost this again with this new intro and another featured image. Don’t hate me!

ZuZu thought you’d like to know: “The pacas are coming! The pacas are coming!” 

In the January chapter of A Berkshire Tale, the little tabby overhears the farmer and his son talking about bringing new animals to the farm. “They eat grass and hay and some grain, so it won’t be much of a bother…They’re  gentle creatures. I think they’ll do well with the other animals…People love alpacas with their humming and their beautiful fleece.”IMG_4765

The kitten runs up to the loft. “Mama, Mama, the pacas are coming. The pacas are coming!”

“Packas, ZuZu? And what are packas, little one?” her mother asked.

“I’m not sure, Mama. But people love them and they’re gentle creatures, and they hum and have fleas…”

“They have fleas? I don’t think the farmer would bring animals with fleas into the barn, ZuZu.”

“But Mama, they’re beautiful fleas. The farmer said so,” explained the kitten. “I can’t wait to see them. This is the best day of my whole life! Uh, Mama?”IMG_2183

“Yes, ZuZu?”

“How long is it ’til Saturday?”

“For you, little one, I’m afraid it will be an eternity,” her mother sighed.FullSizeRender 47

This weekend, I’ll be heading to Shadow Pines Alpaca Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island, about ten minutes from our home in  South Kingstown. Bob and Vivian Ball are having an Open House September 24-25 from 11AM-3PM to celebrate National Alpaca Farm Days.

The last time I was at Shadow Pines  was in late May on shearing day.

Alpacas, along with vicunas, guanacos and llamas, are part of the camelid family found in South America. There are two breed-types of alpacas: huacaya and suri. The suri alpacas have long, silky, lustrous  fleece. The  photo above is of Charlie and Buzz. They are huacaya and their fleece is fluffy and crimpy. Charlie and Buzz are the alpacas from A Berkshire Tale. In the book their names are Ginger and Twyla and their mother is Dora. The mothers are called dams, the babies are called crias. Alpaca fleece is highly valued and the process used to shear these animals is quite interesting to see.

This is Buzz.  He’s afraid. When alpacas are angry or stressed, they hum and spit, so a cover sometimes has to be placed over their muzzles during shearing. The alpacas are much more comfortable during the warm months of summer without all that fleece and it grows  back in time for our cold winters here in Rhode Island.

You can learn more about alpacas at http://www.alpacainfo.com/alpaca-farm-days

If you’ve never visited an alpaca farm, check out this site for more information and to find a farm near you. I love visiting Shadow Pines  Farm. Bob and Vivian are welcoming and the animals are friendly and photogenic. It’s a great place for an adult/child like me to spend a day letting my imagination spin more adventures for ZuZu and her friends.




61 thoughts on ““The Pacas are Coming!” – National Alpaca Farm Days

    1. After reading an article about alpacas, I became enthralled. I knew they had to have a chapter in A Berkshire Tale because I wanted to share them with children and adults who didn’t know much about them. Dora, Ginger and Twyla are introduced in the January chapter and continue to play a part throughout the whole ZuZu series.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The younger ones don’t have any experience with shearing and can become agitated. They try to soothe them and keep them as calm as possible. Professional shearers are hired and they’re unbelievably fast. Brings new meaning to “Put a sock on it!”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I have tons of photos of them. I needed to illustrate A Berkshire Tale, so I apped the photos to make them look like paintingsin the book. I now have an illustrator who will do drawings for the succeeding stories in the ZuZu Series. But I’ll continue to take photos so that she’ll know what I am looking for.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I somehow think alpacas and cats would be good buddies. I like your idea of reworking the photos to look like paintings. They’re good subjects to draw with those beautiful eyes and eyelashes too.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I also love Alpacas for the amazing yarn they produce. A knitting friend of mine has visited a local alpaca farm several times and come home with baskets and baskets of….manure. She swears by it for her vegetable garden. Maybe your friends will let you bring home a little gift from the alpacas? Now off to find some animals to visit in my neck of the woods!

    (I loved you Zuzu story. I feel the pain of the mama. “For you…an eternity.”)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. They are gorgeous. I have a friend who has llamas and they also hum. At night when they are all in for the night they hum to each other. And when a baby is born they all stand around it singing a welcome. They also have a lovely system (not sure if it happens with alpacas) where one of the females in the herd becomes nanny to the baby which allows the mum some time to herself. Good system!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My friend Helen has llamas and she helped me with facts for the alpaca chapter until I found Shadow Pines Farm. These animals are really endearing. Their herd instinct is something that humans could learn from, especially taking care of each other’s children. Have a great weekend, Mary.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Good morning Clare!
    During my knitting phase, my hubby joked that he was waiting for me to turn our backyard into a home for alpacas and sheep so I could dye and spin my own yarn! Imagine those poor animals living in suburban Southern Ca. lol! I enjoyed your post so much. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Zuzu this is a wonderful piece … I loved the extract from your book and I adored the pictures. The Bean (who you would not like – she is my dog) has met Packas here in France. She is most suspicious. Now that I am better informed I will be able to reassure her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If your daughters will humor you a bit and cooperate, then I’ll keep writing these ZuZu stories. Next year’s will be a Christmas one set in Stockbridge during the Annual Norman Rockwell Weekend. I think you’d like the celebration. It’s the first weekend in December.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t but doubtless I’ll attract some adopted Grandies like the flotsam of children that call me second mumma – there are many. And I’m sure I would love that celebration. All things being equal I should be here again from early summer for a year or two so this time I shall keep notes and a planner and make sure I do more of the things I would like to 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow lot going on here, so I hope I remember. Firstly, I love the little kitten story. Very cute and you probably have lots of little dots loving to hear the tale of ZuZu. Its a great read. A real bedtime story. When it finished I was a little upset as I was already drawn in. ( Zu Zu isn’t a kitten now though?)
    The other part of the blog with the information on was interesting as well. I love Llamas/Alpacas and it was interesting to read about them. I pity the poor naked one. I hope it isn’t too cold at night for him/her.
    Cold winters and hot summers. I say… is that really fair?
    Finally…. shame on you for the link with the jokes. Alpaca Socks? Really????
    Lovely read all in all.. thank you very much
    and I must look out for more ZuZu tales

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jackie, You should have been there in May when the shearing was going on! I have video. Their fleece has grown back now and I’ll take some photos on Sunday when I go to visit the farm. This story is an excerpt from one of the 10 ZuZu tales in A Berkshire Tale. They’re all charming bedtime stories which follow the first year in the life of a little kitten. I just made the January chapter into its own little book- The Pacas Are Coming! ZuZu and the Crias -because the kids love it so much when I go to schools to read. I used the same text, but lots more, bigger photos. I’m going up to the Berkshires in November and December to take some photos for next year’s ZuZu Christmas Book. I need there to be snow.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Jackie – I’m working on doing a Youtube presentation of Carnivorous Conundrum. I think it would be great to film reading it at the actual Roger Williams Botanical Garden. It is quite beautiful there and would make an interesting background for the little verse poem. (I still have to get the poem in hard copy form so if people want to buy it after seeing the video, I can send and inscribed copy to them.)


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