"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Wednesday 9 October 2013

The paddock inhabitants...

Remember I told you that way back in March / April Ronnie saw information on an auction in the local Farmers Weekly.

As you know we deliberated, hesitated, decided, and then fell in love, and have been busy preparing to receive the latest additions to our family.

So, with no further ado I'd like to introduce you all to the two (and a half) newest members of our family...
Can you see them - lying in the far corner of the
paddock by the gate?
Miranda and Kris.

They are alpacas :)
Mianda and Kris - our alpacas.
Aren't they beautiful :)
Miranda, the brown one on the right, is a 6½ year old pregnant female, and Kris, the white one the left, is a 2½ year old male.  The cria (baby Alpaca) is due at the end of February / beginning of March next year.

We are now one of only approximately 400 alpaca breeders in South Africa.

They are incredible animals.  Elegant, inquisitive, gentle and agile.  They are also very eco-friendly - they don't rip the grass out by the roots when they graze, and their padded feet don't dig into the soil. Plus, they wont cause us to run out of water - at roughly 5trs of water each per day they don't drink as much as cows and sheep - and we are supplying them from our rain water tanks too :)  Finally, mucking out their paddock is a breeze - they use a communal midden - and always use the same spot :)
RMan in action - 1/2 a wheelbarrow load after
ony 5½ days.  The empty midden can be seen on
the lower right corner
 Lots of goodies for my compost heap...!!!

Yummy compost in the making... :)
Miranda is the gentle one, and Kris is the tough, hasty male - he is so forceful when he eats from his tub that he almost knocks it out of my hands.  Miranda will happily take grated carrot from my outstretched hand - her mouth is warm, soft and, oh!, so very gentle.  Kris isn't interested in human contact yet, so his carrot gets added to his tub.
C'mon Kris, let me see your eyes...
They have both come from large-ish herds, so this is their first time "on their own". Alpaca males and females are generally kept apart, except when they are breeding. Normally, a pregnant female wouldn't allow a male in the same paddock as her - she will "spit" at him.  But, because they are "out of their comfort zone", and also as Kris is still too young to mate, we have been advised by the breeder to allow them to remain in the same paddock until January next year.
Even crouching down and trying to take a
pic wasn't successful LOL
But, it's not all bad - his Beatle fringe
helps to keep the flies out of his eyes...
The spent the first few days gazing mournfully and humming continuously at the gate through which their breeder and her vehicle had exited.  The "hum" noise that they make sounds like they are asking a question - "Hmmmmm"?
This is where Miranda spends all her time -
in the corner where she first entered the
It has taken a week, but they are slowly coming round to us.  Now, when we enter their paddock with their tubs of the lucerne pellets and maintenance meal  mixture, they rush up to us - they recognise that the tubs contain goodies :)
Where are all my buddies...?
Also, the trough that RMan devised is being used :)
Both Miranda and Kris chomped at the contents
of the feeding trough as soon as we filled it
But, we have been told that Miranda will continue to "miss" her herd of females - she will remain at the gate looking for them - rain, wind and shine - until her cria is born next year.  Then she will settle down :)
A hastily errected pergola at her favourite spot - to
provide some shade when it is required
As we are already experiencing some pretty warm days, we decided that we would make her a basic pergola out of the balance of the wood we got from the sawmill - at her preferred spot -so that she has access to shade - she is not venturing to the shade of the trees in her paddock.  Apparently, the farm from which they originated, in Noordhoek in Cape Town, is so shady that they have to be given Vit A, B, D and E supplements.  Vit D won't be a problem here...
This is Miranda's paddock - the first paddock we made
- unti we found out that male and female apaca's
need to be kept separate.
In summer we have temperatures in excess of 35°C (95°F) and do not that much shade unti our trees grow, so lack of sun (Vit D) is not going to be a problem.
This is the view of the second paddock -
Kris' future home.  The first paddock is in
the background behind the stables
As for the "stable" which RMan made - we managed to halter Miranda the first night, and, as we led her to the stable, Kris happily followed.  Since then Miranda doesn't want to know about a halter - so we are giving her some time before we "insist".  Let the poor things acclimatize properly.  It's only fair. But, there is nothing sadder looking than a thoroughly drenched alpaca! 45mm of rain over the weekend left them looking like they needed hanging on the line to dry out...

RMan and I are very chuffed - and very thrilled with the new members of our family.  They bring a smile to our faces every time we look at them :)

Now all I have to do is find a spinning wheel, so that I can spin their wool when they are sheared in November...


To give you more info on alpaca's I am quoting from http://www.alpacas.co.nz/Alpaca%20Information.htm hereunder:
Easily farmed on a small block, with stocking rates of about 5 to the acre.
Low impact stock. With soft, padded feet, the alpaca has an extremely low impact on fragile landforms.
Low level carriers of internal parasites.
Stimulated ovulators, thus they can be mated at any time of the year.
Accustomed to using a communal dung site.
Parasite infestation is therefore low.
Alpaca dung is a rich fertilizer perfect for growing fruits and vegetables. Alpaca droppings are almost odourless, and are low in nitrogen.
Grazers and chew their cud. They have a split upper lip which prevents them from damaging the vegetation's roots
Consistently trouble free when birthing. The birth of a new cria usually occurs during daylight hours, on a fine day.
Long-lived -- approximately 20 years.
Naturally docile and are typically "mustered" by calling them. Dogs are not required.
Modified ruminant with a three-compartment stomach. They convert grass and hay to energy very efficiently, eating less than other farm animals.
Small and easy to handle.
Intelligent, which makes them pleasant to be around and easy to train.
Adaptable to varied habitat, successfully being raised around the world from 15,000 feet to sea level.

Not slaughtered outside of their native South America, thus allowing us to profit from them without killing them.
Not susceptible to footrot.
Not subject to lice infestations
Not prone to blowfly strike.
Not in need of tail docking.


  1. There's a couple in this county who raise Alpacas. I see the Alpacas sometimes when I go up across the state line because I drive by their place. Everything I have ever heard about them has been positive. I think the folks that raise them use their wool to earn a little extra income. They seem perfect for your set up there.

    Are there no predators you have to worry about there? Alpacas would be easy prey for a pack of small predators or a big one. I don't know much about the animals in your area.

    1. Harry - Apparently there are too okay on our area, but we have never seen them. Given the number of dogs in the vicinity, I don't know if they are a threat...

      But the paddock is right outside our bedroom window, so if there was a middle of the night fracas, I reckon RMan would be able to get there pretty speedily. Apparently alpacas made a serious noise if they are under threat.

    2. Ruddy predictive text - I wrote "two rooikat in our area..."

  2. That Kris has a most adorable face. I could kiss it. If I were so inclined to going around kissing alpacas!
    Congrats on the new additions. They are lovely! Can't wait to see the young one.

    1. Kris - Thanks.

      Yeah - dunno if I'd want to kiss Kris' face - riled alpaca's spit (mainly at other alpaca's - and that spit sometimes includes stomach acid...

      Kris' coat is in a better condition, because Miranda has been breeding for the past 5 years - takes it's toll on the condition of her coat, as most of the goodness she eats rather goes to the cria than to improving her fur.

  3. Oh.

    How adorable!!!! What an exciting time for you. I just sat here and told 2nd Man that someday, we just might just have to have a couple ourselves. We have wanted to have some farm animals once we are at that point in farm development and everything I've read about cows, pigs, etc was just countered by what you wrote. They sound like easy going animals to have. Awesome information, can't wait to follow along. Welcome Miranda and Kris (and baby to be)!

    1. L.

      They are, aren't they :)

      There are currently over 53 000 alpaca's in the USA - google and see if you can find a breeder near you, and why not pay them a visit - to whet your appetite... :)

    2. Oh, they would have me at hello, I have NO DOUBT, ha. I AM going to google them though and see if there are some around here. For reference of course, ha.

    3. 1st Man - I think you mean Hmmmmlo - their humming is magical :)

  4. I figured, from your clues, that it was llamas or alpacas! Yay. Looks like they've got a good home there now. You'll be having a heard and selling fleece before you know it. Good job, you two. Looking forward to many more updates. :-D

    1. doggone auto-correct -- 'HERD' not heard, you blinking computer!

  5. Ha... Dino also guessed Alpaca's and we've been waiting with baited breath!! So amazing Dani, I've been passionate about these adorable creatures ever since I came across them and have always wanted some! I spent a day, a couple of years ago, with some ladies who taught me how to spin on a spinning wheel... I LOVED it, such fun and not easy to master initially but you get the hang of it after a few hours. More reasons to move to Rietkuil... Alpaca's, spinning and knitting! Congratulation on your new family members, they are too beautiful!! xxx

    1. Clever Dino :) Was it the "fringe" that gave it away...?

      They, seriousy, are the most amazing creatures - I can't find the words to express exactly what I want to say, so will have to leave it at that.

      Yeah, Rae, I'm trying EVERYTHING I can to get you guys to move LOL And now I aslo NEED you to teach me how to spin, if I ever find a spindle...

      How is it going, or not, with the sale of your farm?

  6. How cute are they! Do they spit? or is that a yak. are you keeping them for wool?

  7. Sol - Welcome and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

    Yeah - they do spit, but only at each other" as far as I know.

    Their wool is incredible - warmer even than lambs wool or cashmere, and they are an excellent investment :)

  8. Alpacas! What an excellent choice, well done! I'm so excited for you. I would love to have some alpacas. I really enjoyed having a llama and still miss him. Also glad to read you're going to learn to spin. :)

    1. Leigh - LOL

      Why do you not have your Llama anymore? Yeah, spinning, still need to find the spindle...

  9. Just came by to see how the Alpacas were working out. I hope they are still doing well and cruising along trouble free!

    1. Harry - They're doing great - thanks for asking :)

      Am snowed under with work at the mo' - so can't post an update until I have a gap...

  10. I LOVE ALPACAS! My most favorite fact about them is about their birthing situation - always during a window of time in the middle of the day. I like that. The more I get to know about alpacas, the more I adore them. I have always thought that when I get my land, I will have three females for fiber and fun.
    I'm so happy for you guys!! They are beautiful!

    1. Lindsey - Thank you.

      Yeah, we have been told that they normally birth in the morning, and mostly in Spring - so that the baby cria has chance to gain a coat before winter... :)

      Seriously, they are the cutest animals :)

  11. So exciting!! I have alpacas on my list and have tagged a 'yet to fully fenced' paddock for them. Last year we went to a local alpaca breeding farm on National Alpaca Day (yes, you read that right). It was fascinating to learn all about them and since then they've been on my medium term plan. Can't wait! A lot of people in our area have them and I get so excited whenever we drive past a paddock with alpacas. So I'm thrilled for you Dani

    1. EB - A National Apaca Day - brilliant :)

      Thank you - yeah, they have given us so much enjoyment already - they are the first thing that RMan looks at in the morning, and the last thing he peers at at night before he goes to bed... (I can go to bed with cream slathered all over my face now, he doesn't see a thing LOLOLOL)


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