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Meet The Newest Members Of The Henderson Family – Our Pet Alpacas :)

Well, WE DID IT. A few weeks ago we adopted these few alpacas and we have a lot to talk about. They are hilarious, so cute, funny, have long weird necks, hilarious hair, and act like they are being surprised every single second. It’s been a month since we got them (I wanted to make sure they were the right fit before I announced it) so there is a lot to break down. The biggest question that we have, is WAIT, WHY DO YOU HAVE ALPACAS??? Like why these animals??? And I totally get that. They aren’t the normal city-clicker/hipsters-moves-to-the-country farm animal choice, so it seems odd to a lot of people. But y’all LOOK AT THEM.

Why Did You Adopt Three Alpacas?

So many reasons. Here you go:

  1. Alpacas are just so funny and awkward so they bring us a ton of daily joy and laughter. They are characters just by existing. It’s like having Kramer as your neighbor. I’m sure other people feel this way about other animals but we just feel so connected to these silly fellows.
  2. They are extremely low maintenance (comparatively) and obviously require daily feeding, watering and we like to pet them, but the timing is flexible and they don’t do anything that is annoying (yet). Sure, we have to do the necessary vaccinations, annual shearing, and make sure their toenails aren’t too long, but we are up for it and the kids are heavily involved. But they simply don’t need that much from humans. In fact, a lot of alpacas would prefer humans not be around them and can be really skittish, which is why we were so connected to these three (well, mostly just two of them).
  3. You have to adopt three (at least 2) because they are herd animals. So just one wasn’t an option.

Where Did You Get These Alpacas?

We went to probably eight farms in the last two years to research, felt them out and confirmed this was the right decision. We originally wanted girls because their temperament can be more mellow. But we never fell in love with any that we were allowed to adopt (many simply weren’t for sale or they were like $15k because they were 4-H prized). We ended up adopting these boys from Alpacas of Oregon which is a farm that does alpacas tours, so these guys were very much used to being pet by humans. Some of the farms we went to they would just run to a corner when humans came in (understandably) which isn’t what we wanted in pets. The little black guy, Milo, was really the reason we went for them. He is a year and a half and EXTREMELY affectionate with the kids (and with all humans). We stayed at the farm for over an hour petting him, and afterwards the kids wouldn’t stop talking about him. It was the extra motivation that we were looking for. He is such a sweet boy. He does this nose bop things with the kids that they interpret as kissing, and they nose bop him every day. Bert is funny but not as affectionate, and Otis is getting there but definitely the least affectionate out of the three (which is more typical).

Why Three Boys And Not Girls?

Well you can’t mix genders – the boys just can’t control themselves and it gets gnarly. We were definitely leaning towards girls, but we fell in love with Milo and then it was all over. I’m sure had we kept looking we could have found three ladies, and in a perfect situation we’d have a pregnant mom and her best friend, but we wouldn’t know if its a girl or boy and if it was a boy we’d have to give away when they are a year (or around breeding age because they can’t be with girls). Anyway, that’s all to say that we fell in love with Milo, he needed a best friend (Otis) and then Bert was just so hilarious looking so we added him in.

How’s It Going With The Kids?

Now? Pretty darn great. I was nervous about this whole thing and Brian was really the lead on all of this. We had a deal with the farm that we’d foster for two weeks to make sure it was the right fit for us and them (and our dogs – which can be a real thing). The day that we got them I was so excited and then I got a pit in my stomach that night. What if we made a mistake and I just have more responsibility? What if it becomes another thing for us to battle over with the kids? What if they never warm up to us and we don’t ever connect? They were admittedly pretty freaked out the first few days (like a puppy would be) and I felt really bad. Was this the right decision? But every day they got more comfortable. The kids spent hours out there at first with them, talking to them so sweetly, taking care of their water and poop. They LOVE them, and the boys love our kids way more than us (it’s a size thing we think) so it makes them feel ownership over them (which was one of our goals, obviously).

Nothing will be perfect, but as of now the kids know that they have to put on their poop pounders every morning and night to go out and feed/water, shovel poop and pet the boys. They have so far done it without complaining (we have to ask a few times because we are their parents and they can’t seem to hear us the first time no matter what). It makes me SO HAPPY to look out the window and see them in their wellies shoveling the poop into a wheel barrow without us (which is less gross than other poop TBH and they only poop in one pile).

How’s It Going With The Dogs?

Ok, so this was the big question mark and we were very nervous. Alpacas #1 threat isn’t coyotes (which we also have), it’s domesticated dogs. Not totally sure why but we were told to keep them apart because the dogs can hurt/kill the alpaca and vice versa (some farms have them mixed in so it’s very confusing). Brian installed a no climb fence in the split rail to keep them all out. When the pups first saw them they barked like crazy out the window. Hours later we invited the out and they were obviously very excited and curious, and barky in a friendl- ish way. The alpacas were a tiny bit scared, but seemed ok. We are EXTREMELY cautious about the gates/fences and tell every kid that comes over the rules immediately – that the dogs could kill the alpacas so you HAVE to shut the gate right behind you. I def feel a tiny bit nervous still which I think is probably good. The dogs most of the day now barely notice them, but probably once every other day they bark at them and we have to put them inside.

Are You going To Show Them, Breed Them, Or Sell Their Poop Or Fur?

We don’t know! The poop is worth a lot to cannabis farmers, the fiber could definitely be used to make sweaters (Birdie really wants to learn), we have zero desire to breed them, and we aren’t sure what the commitment level would be to do 4-H and show them (so I think not).

If Not, Then Why Did You Get Them?

Well, chickens give eggs, goats give goat milk – I get it. But we love animals. Our new pets don’t necessarily do anything and we definitely talked about this a lot. Is this us wanting something unique to post on social media? Nope. I’m far too old for that these days. Where we landed is that they enrich our lives with joy and help teach our kids more responsibility. Listen, we don’t make our kids take piano lessons because I think they are going to be concert pianists, nor do we have our dogs to make money off of them (although we could, those dogs are GREAT on camera) – these new pets, like most things we do as parents – are here to add value to our kids’ lives and hopefully guide them to be good citizens through daily practice, right? These funny animals make life more fun, add a lot to our home and family experience. And that’s enough 🙂

It’s also just fun and exciting to have a new challenge, for us and the kids. We had a pasture and a barn, we bought a farmette for a reason. We weren’t going to NOT have animals (and this isn’t where we are stopping). These are a good first step and then who knows, maybe we’ll do the whole shebang.

As you know, we intentionally slowed down our lives a couple years ago (involving moving home to Portland) and while animals add responsibility (and we haven’t even had them during the winter months) somehow this kind of responsibility doesn’t feel stressful – shoveling their poop, like changing a diaper or walking the pups, is just what you do. It’s the good kind of stress, not the bad kind. It’s the good stuff that takes up time and it gets us outside and moving our bodies. I mean, I hope…

So folks, meet the boys. And while I’ll organically post about them when I feel like it, Brian is far more excited to keep the world updated on all things alpaca on his instagram (OH LORDY LORDY, LOOK WHOSE ACTUALLY JOINING SOCIAL MEDIA???). So head over there to see more alpaca videos.

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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ali
8 months ago

The camera loves Bert!

Paula
8 months ago
Reply to  ali

And it looks like Milo loves the camera! He’s got his poses down pat.

Summer
8 months ago

Oh my gosh, how much fun. My husband and I live outside of PDX and dream of having a farm situation like you have. Your kids are learning so many meaningful skills!
silly question but I know nothing – do they sleep indoors when it rains? If so, will we get a barn tour (I’m hoping hahah)?

Philippa
8 months ago

They definitely are darn cute. And they’ve got a good home with you, with people taking care of them and lots of space. As far as being a pet goes, they probably couldn’t have it any better. So, enjoy!

Kate
8 months ago

They seem like a good option for your city farmette! Love the photo of them looking over the fence!

Amy
8 months ago

Congratulations on your goofy, funny new boys! I know you will all have a wonderful life together.

Louisa
8 months ago

“The boys love our kids way more than us” — I first read this as ‘the alpacas love my children more than Brian and I do” 🙂 Then I realized what you meant!

Shannon
8 months ago

This is so fun and exciting for your fam. Also, these guys somehow seem so “on brand” for you, in the best possible way: quirky, unexpected and ridiculously charming. Enjoy!

🥰 Rusty
8 months ago

I’ve been SO excited to see these babies! GORGEOUS!!!💓💓💓
OMG! That photo with Bert’s head peeking above the fence!!!🤣😂🤣 I had to zoom in and then wholeheartedly belly laugh. Bert looks a bit like a Dr Zeus Lorax tree! (In the best possible way)
I rell ya….Brian looks like the Cheshire cat with happiness, buuuuut Charlie is obviously really connected to them in the huggiest, lovely way. So, so great to see. Birdie is getting so tall! I remember when you brought her home as a baby!! Whaaaaat?!?
Well, homesteaders, me thinks this is only the beginning. 🚜 I’m looking forward to following along as the menagerie grows.
Principal Henderson just became Farmer Henderson and he clearly loves it!

Julie
8 months ago

Looks like a really fun joyfilled experience. Have fun! (ps. the young man who checked out my groceries this week looks exactly like Bert. This new hair craze for teens is hilarious.)

Nora
8 months ago

Awwwww!!! So exciting!

8 months ago

Just followed Brian, can’t WAIT for alpaca content, but as a crazy chicken lady… CHICKENS MUST BE NEXT! Do you know how cute chicken coops can be??? How low effort the deep litter method is??? How much they’ll love free ranging with your alpacas???? Let me know if you need help!

Norah
8 months ago

Cuuuuuuuute 🙂

A.B.
8 months ago

Bert has a face for movie greatness. They need an IG account.

N.
8 months ago

Love this update! I grew up riding horses and learned SO much from having the responsibility of taking care of them. Like, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or if it’s raining or if it’s freezing cold — you have to take care of those animals. I think there’s also something to be said about being comfortable with getting dirty/messy for the sake of something you love. Enjoy your new additions!

Rory
8 months ago

I’d think you can use the poop for compost/fertilizer in your own garden. Since they will need shearing from an expert, you could probably sell the wool. Alpacas are cute and sweet. A friend who shows her in the Illinois State Fair has literally transported them in the back of a van. they get in and lie down!

Meghan
8 months ago

We have a kid who just showed her llama at her first county fair for 4H and she loved it so much. The fair is a big time commitment for the week but those kids have so much fun (the adults maybe not as much 😆). There are other llama /alpaca shows that aren’t nearly as time intensive though. Welcome to the camelid community!

Sherri
8 months ago

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but please read up on berserk syndrome. Too much hands on can cause this in both llamas and alpacas. Just something to be aware of. I would not encourage the nose bop thing. I know they are adorable and look so cuddly, but too much hands on can cause problems down the road.

Sherri
8 months ago
Reply to  Sherri

I would like to add that haltering, brushing, taking for walks, all of that is great. Cathy Spalding, very well known in the llama and alpaca community, wrote a very good article on this syndrome. I have included a link. http://gentlespiritllamas.com/html/articles/berserk/berserk1.htm

🥰 Rusty
8 months ago
Reply to  Sherri

Yikes!😳
That sounds really scary.

Sherri
8 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

It was definitely not my intention to scare anyone. It was purely a FYI. It definitely can be prevented if you are intentional with your interactions. I was just a bit worried with the bop thing is why I even brought this up.

Terra
8 months ago
Reply to  Sherri

Holy moly!

Monique Wright Interior Design
8 months ago

That’s so cool.

I took my kids on a tour of AOO last year, and they loved it! I was promptly schooled on the difference between llamas and alpacas, haha. I also purchased a rather expensive alpaca stuffie/toy made with real alpaca fur – that thankfully is still in rotation for getting attention from my 8-yr-old. 😆

Sarah F
8 months ago

I love them already! So cute and funny and I love their fizzy hair. We have horses or enjoyment as well. Taking care of them definitely feels good, even when it’s hard work.

Leslie
8 months ago

We had a couple of alpacas for about a year when my partner used them as pack animals when he was out wildcrafting in the mountains. They were not from a pet farm so were not that socialized. They would never let you pet them. They would stand perfectly still until the very moment you were about to touch them and then just turn out of reach. It became a game to see if you could finally trick them into a pet and you never could. It was quite the rodeo trying to catch them and get them into their halters. But they were endlessly amusing. They used to wrestle quit a bit and do all sorts of quirky things. One of the oddest was when a neighbor rented a herd of goats to mow down their fields. They were about 2 acres away but could be seen because the area was rolling hills and they were at the top of one of the hills. These two guys stood frozen, just staring at the herd for a week. I guess they were just terrified. Not big brains but definitely an entertaining species. Have fun!

Sandi
8 months ago

So very cute! I hand spin yarn, and design and knit sweaters, and I know of wool mills where you could ship the fleece for cleaning after you have them sheared. If you’re interested in having yarn spun from your alpaca’s fleece after they are shorn next year, either for Birdie to knit or to commission a hand-knit sweater, I’d be open to a conversation.

Lane
8 months ago

So fun. Nice additions to your farm.

Patricia
8 months ago

I’ve shoveled llama poop (kept as watch llamas for sheep). And it was not stinky or gross. Alpacas, being littler and cuter, must be even more … well, is pleasant the right word for poop?

Sona
8 months ago

OMG, Bert makes me smile so much!!!!

Leah
8 months ago

LOVE! Sooooo cute 😊

Karen
8 months ago

I am so excited for you and your family. What a beautiful addition and I look forward to hearing more about Milo, Otis and Bert!

Anne Sweeney
8 months ago

What a great choice! I love Alpacas and I can tell your kids are smitten. I have wanted them but have horses in just under 4 acres so can’t fit them the way we are setup. But we got chickens. My kids grew up with doing barn chores and working with animals. By their teens they were less enthusiastic but now as young adults they will make comments about how lucky they were to have grown up like that. And they are all dog lovers as we had many many in our home over the years. My kids are adopted and I felt connecting with animals would be a very healing thing for them. Have fun!!!!!

Gwen
8 months ago

this post brought me so much joy! they are adorable! Burt is so funny looking but gosh I love him!

Anna
8 months ago

Wait, I am OBSESSED with Bert.

8 months ago

*FOLLOWS @BRIANHENDO IMMEDIATELY

Vid
8 months ago

lol y’all really love the phrase “a real thing”
cute alpacas!

8 months ago

Adopting alpacas brought unexpected joy, bonding, and meaningful life enrichment.