Monday, October 11, 2010

Dams and cria, moms and babies

I struggle sometimes when writing my blog to know if I should use the farm term for things, or the layman's terms. Such as dam for mom, and cria for baby. I know to alpaca farmers, these are common terms. And, to many who grew up in farming communities or even on a farm, they grew up with these terms (maybe not cria, as alpaca farms were not around when I was a kid, but most of the other terms would be familiar). But, as someone who grew up in suburbia, these aren't such common terms. If four years ago I read a blog about dams and cria I would have had to figure out what they meant through the context of the post. So, I often use these terms interchangeably, or put one in parentheses. I know some of my readers are farmers, some fellow alpaca farmers, but others are city folk, or someone just googling a topic and came across my blog. I try to make sure anyone reading can understand what I am talking about.

The funniest example of why I often use various terms happened with the word fiber. To an alpaca farmer, an avid spinner and knitters, we know what fiber is, that wonderful product that alpacas grow on them that we can make into luxurious yarn. One often refers to themselves as a fiber-aholic. But, to a former city folk person (I mean me here) it's taken some adjustment to think of it as fiber. And I can tell when I talk to some people that "fiber" does not make them think of yarn at all. I often will use the words "like wool" or "fur". I know that may make some alpaca farmers cringe, but the truth is that when I was a city person, "fur" or "wool" would have made a lot more sense to me. To me it's more important that people understand what I'm talking about, than that I use the exact appropriate term. When I talk to people in person, I can tailor the words to what makes sense to them. Even if I use the words "like wool" or "fur" I will add in fiber so that they know in the alpaca world it is called fiber. As people learn more about alpacas, I slip into using more of the correct terms and drop the layman's terms. But, I talk to more people outside of the alpaca community, so sometimes I slip and use laymen terms when in a crowd of alpaca owners. Oh the gasps one can hear. The funny story happened to J. A person at work asked him what he does with his alpacas. He stated that he has them "for their fiber." Her reply "you mean you eat them?" Yeah, wool or fur would have made a lot more sense to her.

Back to my topic of dams (moms) and cria (babies). I always find it neat to see how the dams and cria will lay near each other. I took these pictures this past weekend, on a day I fed them later than usual. They know when it's meal time, and if I'm late to get out there, they will lay by the gate in wait of their food. On this morning, I found them laying there in sets, dam and cria together. Note Maddie, the black and white mom, with Twilight, her black and white cria right next to her, and Victoria with Challenger next to her (both are reddish brown in color), then Sancha (white) with Copper (brown) nearby:

Kateri and her cria, Chaska, were off by themselves:

When I went out there to get some better pictures, that's when they all started to get up. They know if I'm there, that means grain time:

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