"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Adios Alpacas


Austen and Miguel



Benji

I had too many animals on the farm. Something had to go, and it was the alpacas. I freely admit, I went a little crazy on Craigslist during my first year here. I wish I had enough land to indulge all my animal fantasies, but I just don't. Turns out, five acres is not as big as I thought it was when I moved here. It's only natural I would misjudge. I spent my early and middle childhood on a 3.5 acre mini-farm, and it always seemed pretty big to me! We crammed three horses and a dozen goats on that place, not to mention a score or so of chickens.

But I've learned that the number of animals I have acquired here - 2 ponies, nine goats, three alpacas, and about twenty-five chickens - just isn't sustainable in the long run. This has been a very dry year, and I've flat run out of grass. I don't have the funds to be buying hay nine or ten months of the year. Also, there's the little matter of the county's sustainability plan.

Those of us with animals are supposed to have no more than 1 "animal unit" per acre of usable pasture, which excludes non-permeable surfaces, wetlands, or steep slopes. What's an animal unit? Well, I'll tell you. It's one cow, or one 1000 lb. horse, or 3.1 sheep, or 1.4 llamas, or 100 chickens. I added up my animal units (assuming that a goat was the same as a sheep, and that an alpaca was slightly less than a llama) and I came up with 4.1. That's actually just under the limit, considering that I have about 4.25 acres of usable land. However, it feels unsustainable, considering the quality of my land and what has happened in this year's drought.

Realistically, the ponies are the least practical animals I have, but I LOVE them and won't consider getting rid of them. The alpacas are the next most useless (no food products, just hair). So, even though they are funny and silly and decorative and even though Rowan has done wonders with their fleece, we had to say goodbye to them.

They did net me $50 each. That's more than I paid for them.

4 comments:

Olive said...

Alpacas here in OZ are much more expensive, although I suppose the difference in the currency exchange rate brings it down a little. I love my alpacas and I find it hard to let any of them go, so I decided to have a cria free year this (next) year. I'm not getting any younger and I am unable to handle them myself so I expect the time is fast approaching when we will have to find them a new home. Shearing day is just too traumatic !!

Aimee said...

Until recently, alpacas were very expensive here, too. In fact, about fifteen years ago they were selling for many thousands of dollars. Even today, if you have champion registered alpacas, they are worth a pretty penny. But in my state, there is a glut of alpacas on the market right now. A very large alpaca farm recently went out of business. At first, they were selling the alpacas for a couple hundred each; at the end, they were giving them away. That was only a couple months ago, so I consider myself to have gotten any cash at all for them.

Aimee said...

Until recently, alpacas were very expensive here, too. In fact, about fifteen years ago they were selling for many thousands of dollars. Even today, if you have champion registered alpacas, they are worth a pretty penny. But in my state, there is a glut of alpacas on the market right now. A very large alpaca farm recently went out of business. At first, they were selling the alpacas for a couple hundred each; at the end, they were giving them away. That was only a couple months ago, so I consider myself lucky to have gotten any cash at all for them.

AnyEdge said...

A pony should literally pull its weight on a farm, right? Why are these ponies not plowing? Talk about your sustainability....