During February our backyard alpacas, Inti and Chimu, turned 10! Yes, that means we have been the crazy alpaca people for almost a decade now……
Alpacas aren’t your average backyard pets. People often ask why we have alpacas in our backyard, as it’s a little unusual. I’ve always loved alpacas and they make awesome pets. They don’t need a lot of space, they eat all our veggie scraps and turn it into garden-friendly manure, they are low maintenance, don’t make any noise and are very clean – they have their own toilet! We can also spin their fleece into lovely yarn and they are pretty cute and cuddly.
Way back in 2007, Anto and I did a course about keeping alpacas and decided we definitely wanted some. We picked out 2 cute little crias (baby alpacas) and spent the 6 months until they were weaned from their mother’s visiting them weekly, handling them a lot to get them used to humans and teaching them to walk on a lead.
Here are some of the very early pictures of Inti and Chimu out at the farm, they were so cute and little! As you can see I was not great at photography back then……….
We spent a lot of time teaching them to walk on their leads, teaching them basic commands and even getting them in and out of our car!
Once they were weaned from their mother’s milk, just after 6 months old, we bought them home to be our backyard pets. We had spent quite a bit of time fencing off areas we didn’t want them to get into (alpacas eat everything they can reach) and getting them a bedding and toilet area ready. Way back when we first brought them home we actually had grass…… that didn’t last long with Inti and Chimu on the case!
When they were little they used to come inside the house for visits. They weren’t a big fan of our tiles (or stairs) though, so these days they only wander in every now and then to have an unauthorised munch on one of our indoor plants. They are pretty good at opening the door with their teeth/nose when they want our attention though!
By 2008, Inti and Chimu were losing their cria-cute looks and were most definitely getting bigger (and fluffier in preparation for another Winter). We were still out walking the neighbourhood daily and they were well-fed and well-loved!
By 2009 they were well and truly fully-grown and living a life of luxury in our backyard. We had no grass to speak of, but they kept our plants well trimmed and we had to re-fence a few times as they grew taller and kept getting into our garden!
Life isn’t too hard for a backyard alpaca – daily walks and attention, straw and coats for when it’s cold and wet, and all the fruit and veggie scraps you can fit in!
In 2011, their lives got a whole lot more complicated. The first tiny human (Astrid) arrived, and walks were forevermore accompanied by a pram, infant in an ergo or a toddler pulling on their lead. By the time Soren arrived in 2013 they were used to small people running into the yard to give them pats and feed them peppermints and carrots!
These days, they even begrudgingly let Astrid and Soren drag them up the hill for walks and take them for runs. They have well and truly figured out that the kids give them a lot of treats and attention and aren’t so bad after all……
It turns out I’ve taken 2.5 thousand photos of the cute camelids over the years. They are probably some of the most well-photographed alpacas going around. Here are a few of my favourites from the last couple of years.
Now they are both 10 years old, and well and truly in the prime of their lives! Still cute as ever, if getting slightly more lazy as time goes by…… our walks are less energetic and more lazy grass-munching these days.
We hopefully will still be enjoying the pleasure of their company in another 10 years (alpacas generally live around 20 years). It hardly seems like 10 years ago we decided to bring home those cute little crias. I’m not sure our neighbourhood would be quite the same without the daily sightings of Inti and Chimu strolling around the streets!