Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I'm in love with an alpaca

Actually, I'm love with a bunch (herd?) of them. I'm writing a story about an alpaca ranch, and a couple of months ago I Googled alpacas since I know nothing about them. (Still not sure what a bunch of them is called. Hmm.) In my search, Stargazer Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, run by Cynthia Fronk and John Heise, came up. Since it's so close to where I live, I contacted them to ask if I could visit. I was told they would be out doing shows, but they were having an open barn at the end of June.

So, last weekend, I went with my trusty cameraman (my hubby) and had a blast. The open barn was held on a Saturday and Sunday, and we went the latter. What a blessing! The day before they had about 25 people visit. When we showed up there was only one other couple who John was helping. As a result, we had Cindy's undivided attention for 2 hours. She was great. Very professional, but loads of fun. This lady knows her stuff!

The first beauties we met were Sonrisa, a very pregnant female, and Saffron, a new mommy to baby (cria) Peanut.

Most of the males (herdsires) were in a pen of their own away from the ladies. However, the young fella below was priviledged to be placed in a pen near some some fetching females. The purpose? To wake up those hormones. Here, he's trying to talk to the young ladies, probably something like, "Hey, chicky-baby. Wanna hang out at my paddock?"

We had a great time, learned about husbandry, behavior, and where green spit comes from. We also learned about communal poop. Hey, we're talkin' animals here, so we must mention poop! The animals all go in one place. (Note the dark spots in the pic above.) Females aren't as neat as males who like to go on each other's poop to cover up the scent and replace their own. Sounds like a guy, huh? And speaking of scent, I was pleasantly surprised that the ranch in general smelled. . .well. . .pleasant. With 50 animals on this ranch, one would think it would reek, but it actually smelled like hay, the whole place, inside and out.

This story isn't contracted yet, but I have high hopes. How does this teaser sound?

A man and a woman, both with abandonment issues, learn to forgive with the help of a melodious alpaca.

I'll announce it on my Website as soon as there is something concrete to report. Please pray!

Thank you, Cindy and John at Stargazer Ranch. You guys are the best!