Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kids and Alpacas

You know your child spends too much time at the barn when his swimming instructor shows him how to swim holding his hand as a scoop and she asked him what you scoop (she was thinking ice cream) and he replies "poop". So Zack has been swimming while "scooping poop." (I bet his instructor is telling everyone she can about the kid she's teaching who scoops poop). The kids both love coming to the barn with me.

In general Alpacas are gentle animals and are safe around children. Alpacas only have bottom teeth (they have a hard plate on top) so they cannot bite like other animals. In addition, alpacas are not aggressive. Their first defence is to run, though they will also stomp (I have heard of them stomping a squirrel or similar size animal). Children can be more the issue, because alpacas are gentle animals they are also very protective. Any fast movement and the alpacas get away. Alpacas do not like to be touched, and they know how far away your hands will reach so they stay that far away. Our alpacas have been here for over a week and I have yet to touch them (other than when I haltered them when they first came). This is deliberate on my part. The reason being if you try to touch them they will back off and the more you do that, the more they will stay away from you. I want them to be friendly and to feel safe coming near me, so I do not annoy them by grabbing at them. We have taught our children this also. The kids take turns coming with me to feed the animals. But they know they are not to grab at the alpacas. They can measure out and bring the feed to the alpacas. If they want to touch an animal they can pick up the kittens and pet them and play with them. So far this has been working. Sometimes Zack has a hard time with moving too fast in the barn and scaring the alpacas, but for the most part the kids and alpacas are getting along very well.

It will be interesting to see how our alpacas handle it when we have our first visitors to the farm. One of my nieces said Victoria let her pet her. I hope they are friendly and allow visitors to pet them. That is part of the fun of visiting a farm.

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