Our beloved alpacas, Inti and Chimu have been part of our family since 2007, well before we had kids. We built and moved into our house in 2005, got married in 2006, and then brought home the fluffy boys in 2007 to join our much loved cats, Mulder and Scully. We became the crazy alpaca people, who were seen walking their fluffy Camelids around the neighbourhood at all times of the day.
Inti and Chimu were well-known around the area, and we talked to thousands of people (from babies to oldies) over the years. Kids (and adults) love giving them pats and learning more about alpacas and llamas. If only I had a dollar for every time I have had to answer the same questions!
In September when we suddenly lost our beautiful Chimu, it devastated the whole family. Life will never be the same without him. The kids had never known life without Chimu in it 🙁
I am forever grateful that I have managed to capture many images of our alpacas over the years. It turns out I have a couple of thousand of Chimu. Anto laughed when I was crying the day I got the last photos I had of him off my camera card (not knowing at the time I took them they’d be the last). He reminded me most people don’t have that many photos of their kids let alone pets. Still, I wish there were more.
It has taken me a few months to feel up to putting together a little tribute to his life but, it has been lovely to sort through the many images and remember how much fun we’ve had and the importance he has played in our family over the years. So here it is, the wonderful adventures of Chimu (of course with his partner in crime, Inti)…….
I’ve always loved alpacas and I could never quite convince my Nan and Pa to have some on their farm. So in early 2007, I convinced Anto to come on a visit with me to an alpaca farm to learn more about alpacas. He somehow let me convince him that they would be an excellent addition to our family and a few weeks later we were picking out our crias (baby alpacas) that would be joining our family when they were weaned. Inti stole our heart with his playful personality and friendliness being a llapaca (cross between an alpaca and a llama) and Chimu was my pick for his gorgeous blue eyes and wicked grins.
We visited Inti and Chimu at their farm every weekend for several months, teaching them to walk on a lead and hop in and out of the car, and giving them plenty of carrot and sultana snacks.
Many cold and frosty mornings were spent out at Sutton with our quickly growing crias. They grew to recognise us and would come running when they saw us on a Saturday morning!
In early September 2007 our fluffy boys came home! They were fully weaned and happy to run around our then grassy backyard…… 2007 was the last time we had grass as they ate it all pretty fast 🙂
Despite putting in plenty of fences before they came home, we quickly discovered exactly which plants they liked to eat!!!
Inti and Chimu had the cutest fluffiest faces that first year, and were so little!
Of course once they were shorn for the first time in Summer, they were even smaller and looked completely different. We called them our alien babies…..
They were rather spoilt and had coats to keep them warm after shearing and plenty of treats.
Back in the day they used to come right into the house and skid around the tiled floors chasing our cats. They cats were not impressed! Inti and Chimu quickly learned that tiles were not their friend…..
As the 2007/2008 Summer rolled on, Inti and Chimu were growing fast and enjoying their daily walks (and runs). Yes there was a time when they weren’t lazy and loved to run alongside us!
They have always loved to roll in dirt. There is nothing better than getting scratchy dirt in your fleece, apparently. Chimu even created his own special rolling patch in the paddock across from our house.
It’s 2008 and both boys are still babies, and much smaller than Anto. There was a time we could pick them up and carry them around. They were very much at home in the yard and Chimu would sleep in the straw outside what would eventually become the kids rooms. A very relaxed alpaca…
In 2008 I was teaching myself photography so spent a lot of time taking photos of my beloved pets. The cats moved less than the alpacas, but the alpacas featured in plenty of my favourite photos taken in that year! I’ve always loved this one of little Chimu in the paddock near our house…….
Inti and Chimu, best friends forever…….
Yep, no grass left, but Chimu is always enjoying his backyard sunbakes!
It’s shearing time again and at almost 2 years old they look like grown up alpacas (almost)! When you are a city alpaca, you have to have city-hairstyles. The shearer always laughs at our request to leave their fringes….
With his Summer stylin hair cut, Chimu looked tiny again out on walks……
This is so typical of Chimu, chilling on a walk, eating grass……
It’s 2009 and we are still enjoying going on walks every day. They are now 2 years old and adult alpacas!
When you are Chimu, your days are full of sleeping in the backyard, often in piles of straw and rolling in dirt on walks!
In 2011 we welcomed our first human baby. Astrid was born in the Winter, and walks were now accompanied by the pram. The alpacas were not fazed in the slightest and immediately became protective of their newest family member.
They did not however want Astrid to have rides on them, despite Uncle Mikl trying!
In 2012, for some reason the number of photos of the alpacas decreased, while Astrid got the lion’s share of my time (and the camera) but we still spent plenty of time with her fluffy siblings. They didn’t want for attention one little bit!
Astrid spent her early years of life looking out her bedroom window seeing Inti and Chimu lazing about on the pavers (and even covered in frost!).
It was 2013. This was the year that toddler Astrid accompanied us on walks. We spent a lot of time out playing in the grass and trees as the alpacas had their daily exercise and munch on grass…….
Chimu had the most amazing eyes, like giant blue marbles!
Astrid was used to Chimu staring in her room, checking when she was sleeping and checking when she might be up for a play or walk!
Late 2013 and Soren, joined the family. The alpacas were completely unfussed by yet another small human being in their house!
Soon it was shearing time again. Astrid was big enough to watch (clear of spitting distance) and Soren just slept through the whole thing……
The alpacas were now back to sleek mode for our daily walks and plays in the grass…..
It’s 2014 and the alpacas are spending the heat of Summer laying about the backyard, being supervised by the kids.
On really hot days, we give them showers with the sprinklers. Chimu always loved a good soaking! He would dance in the spray and then when the sprinklers turned off, try to hop in his water bowl. Doing what we referred to as the ‘dance of the sugar plum alpaca’…..
The cool weather always brings longer outings. One of our favourite walks was up to the trig point on Narrabundah Hill. Chimu was happy to be lead by a toddler Astrid, while I lugged bubba Soren in the ergo…..
The alpacas love to be King of the Castle (or at least large hill)….. The views are always pretty majestic.
Then there is laying around in the backyard sunbaking or guarding the washing…… no they aren’t dead, that is just how you find an alpaca when they are sunning!
Chimu always had the best ‘bedraggled when wet’ look! He’d constantly grunt at us for making it rain and then look annoyed when the weather outside the yard was just as bad as at home!
The end of 2015 and we were heading overseas for a European Christmas so the kids were enjoying plenty of walks with the fluffies before we set off for our 6 weeks. Chimu was rocking the best hairstyle that late in the year!
Soren was now 2 and quite a fan of walking his furry friends. Chimu would accept being bossed around by small children and toddlers as he knew he could con peppermints out of them!
It was time for the annual de-fleecing! While we are pretty unpopular during the shearing, it really doesn’t hurt them. They particularly object to being tied to the table more than the actual shearing. Normally we are forgiven within 24 hours as it’s much nicer not being hot and itchy.
Once all that hot fleece is gone, you can look ridiculous and skinny but spend way more time sunbaking!
It’s late January 2016 and returned from freezing Europe, we are forgiven after a couple of days for abandoning them with a pet-sitterb and are allowed long evening walks in the Summer sunsets. Oh how we missed that cheeky smile, big blue eyes and crazy fringe!
Canberra Winters when you are an alpaca are no big deal. They love to sit outside on a frosty morning chewing and contemplating life. We are lucky that our Winter days are mostly sunny, so a minus 7 or 8 morning before a sunny day for walks is perfect alpaca weather!
Ever the loyal friend, Chimu was more than happy to be walked by 3 year old Soren. They were best friends. A boy and his alpaca……
When we weren’t’ having adventures together on walks, Soren had to keep an eye on what his mate was up to outside (generally sleeping in the sun)……
Summer walks and cow chasing are among Chimu’s favourite things. Shearing is most definitely his least favourite!!!
December short fleece means it’s sunbaking in straw heaven though…… How many people get this in their backyard? The kids have never known life without a backyard of straw, sleepy alpacas and a furry camelid to watch them eat breakfast or dinner!
In 2017 there is another hot Summer and visits from the school rabbit (which Chimu was quite a fan of).
We have been so lucky to have such amazing open spaces across from our house to go walking with the alpacas. We often wander around the neighbourhood streets, meeting and chatting to people but the alpacas have loved nothing more than wandering through the forest, chasing cows and being dragged by small children.
At home Inti and Chimu often open the door and wander in to say hello. Usually when they think their food bowl is on the empty side, or they just want some attention or think we may have forgotten their daily walk. You look up to see these big blue eyes staring back at you!
In Winter you can guage how cold it actually is by the amount of ice on the alpacas. It was always so much easier to see on Chimu’s dark brown fleece.
Soren has always loved rubbing noses with his Chimu and having secret conversations….
Chimu really did have the most amazing hairstyles and he could give us the ‘evil eye’ so well when he wasn’t happy about something!
Astrid has always loved her Chimu and he was her favourite to walk. Despite having the will of a cranky toddler and weighing at least 80kg, he would mostly do what the kids wanted him to and loyally follow them around.
No plants, bushes or flowers were ever safe near Chimu! He had an amazing appetite. Despite being much smaller than Inti he was always eating and would push Inti out of the way to get food or the best flowers!
Christmas photo tradition became traipsing through the forest with the alpacas while dressed in our finery. The family photos needed to include our furry friends too.
In 2018, we’d had Inti and Chimu in our lives for well over a decade. They were a fixture in the neighbourhood and so many people were used to seeing us wandering around the neighbourhood with the a couple of kids dragging some alpacas who wanted to munch on anything and everything!
We’d often take the kids out on their bikes while the alpacas munched. Long gone were the days when Inti and Chimu were energetic enough to run beside us while we rode but they enjoy a good wander while the kids ride up and down beside them.
It’s not just Australian native birds and animals that eat wattle and eucalyptus. The alpacas love them (and blackberry and conifers too).
Most years we would try and take the alpacas down to the school for a visit with our kids grades. We still hear from kids who remember them visiting in preschool or their primary school grade. Astrid and Soren think other kids are cool for having dogs, but they have the coolest pets around.
In late 2018, Zinnia was born and I’m sure I saw Chimu roll his eyes when he realised another tiny human had come to live in his domain. The alpacas still weren’t a fan of having babies or toddlers ride on them but they had resigned themselves to more children tearing around the yard rolling balls at them!
Zinnia was out for alpaca walks from 1 day old. She’d sleep through them all at first!
Christmas 2018, 3 crazy kids and 2 fluffy alpacas…….
I’ll never get used to not having my kitchen door opened by Chimu as he lets himself in the house for a treat or two. At night he’d come up to the door and his white fur glows in the dark, resembling a skull face. Amusing to us, terrifying to visitors or anyone stupid enough to break into our house or yard!
2019 involved plenty of walks with Zinnia in the ergo and the big kids dragging an alpaca or two.
Our garden may not feature much grass but we always have all the bushes trimmed perfectly to alpaca neck stretching height. They are excellent hedge trimmers and weeders!
In 2020 the world went pear-shaped. We started with the hottest Summer in memory and choking bushfire smoke for almost 3 months. The sky was orange and the air quality amongst the worst in the world. The alpacas did not enjoy the heat or the smoke. We were a little worried about how would cope with the poor air quality but we got through it and all breathed a little easier when the air cleared later Summer.
Of course it was out of one crisis and into another. Covid hit and we were in lockdown. Unlike the rest of our family the alpacas loved lockdown. We were home all the time and there was nothing on, so daily walks were long and leisurely!
Lockdown also meant plenty of time for us to do gardening and jobs around the house! Chimu always loved days when we were out in the yard, providing him tasty treats by weeding or pruning. We could generate giant piles of garden waste that both alpacas would happily munch down for us!
Zinnia was now a fully fledged toddler, and unlike the average 1 year old she didn’t see any reason why she couldn’t take her Inti and Chimu on walks herself.
Soren, lover of suits, requested his 7th birthday photos were with his furry friends. They loyally follow him wherever he goes, mostly because it may involve food (and occasionally kisses)…..
We did orginally plan the southside of our house to be an entertaining area, rather than an alpaca sunbaking and lounging zone……..
2020 might have been an awful year, but we took our annual Christmas photos with the alpacas, where Chimu dutifully chased cows for us. It wouldn’t be an outing without Chimu chasing a cow or two! These were the last photos with the whole family and both alpacas. Little did we know that 2021 was going to be worse than 2020.
We started 2021 with Summer sleek haircuts for the alpacas and some synchronised sunning. A usual sight out our windows but probably very strange to the average person!
Again in 2021 we had some extensive lockdowns. Again the alpacas thought it was wonderous. The kids were home all the time and we had so many walks to go on.
The kids spent time climbing trees and making tree forts, while the alpacas ate grass, communed with the cows and and got plenty of attention.
The alpacas were completely unfussed by everyone wearing masks all the time, and loved the fact that there were so many people were out and about to give them pats and attention.
As the long Winter lockdown dragged on we noticed Chimu seemed a little reluctant to go on long walks but he was still eating and happy. Little did we realise that we was actually unwell. Chimu being Chimu, he hid his decline so well that it was only in the last week of school term when we’d been taking countless videos and photos of him for the kids homeschool work that we noticed he was actually looking quite thin and not quite as spritely.
When you have as much fleece as Chimu does in the Winter it was hard to know he had gotten a little thin, and he was still eating voraciously and letting himself into the house for attention and treats.
In fact the little bugger was busted by Zinnia, well inside the house, helping himself to a sneaky treat or two just a few weeks before he died.
The last week of school term was a blur of homeschool hell and visits from the vet. No one realised how sick Chimu actually was. He passed away just before dawn on the 18th of September 2021. Anto and I had been checking on him all night and his best friend Inti watched over him all night long. Sadly he was sicker than we realised and left us, well before any of us were ready.
It was the first day of the school holidays and a cold and wet morning when we had to break it to the kids that their beloved friend was gone. Our hearts were all broken and we will never forget the important part he has played in our family. Treasured and loved forever.
We had Chimu cremated and once restrictions easing allowed, family gathered for scattering of some of his ashes in the pine trees across the road where we walked and played. Inti came along to help say goodbye, and Astrid and Soren both read pieces they had written for Chimu.
Even three months on we are all still so very sad about losing our beloved Chimu. Astrid and Soren had grown up with the alpacas as they had with my cats Mulder and Scully. We lost both cats in 2017 and it was difficult for the kids and they still miss them terribly. Losing Chimu seemed even harder for them as they were a little bit older and had an even stronger bond. For Zinnia this has been her first experience of death and she has struggled to understand and process it too.
Writing letters to Chimu (like we did with the cats when they died) has helped and we have printed their favourite photos of Chimu to keep in their rooms.
Here are some of the kids pieces they wrote to Chimu.
I’m sorry that you died. I loved you. Don’t tell Inti but I loved you more than him. I loved your fluffy fur. I loved that you let me put on your halter and eat mints out of my hand. I liked taking you on walks. Especially when we went to the tree forts and you stood around eating. I liked giving you cuddles. I liked it when you slept outside my old room.
I wish you were still alive. I miss you heaps. I wish that you hadn’t died and you were still running around in the backyard where I could play with you. I liked it when you visited school with Inti. I like looking at photos of when you were little. I wish I knew you then but you got to know me when I was little. I will always remember you.
I am sorry Chimu that you died, I loved you so much, and you were so beautiful. I am so sad that you died.. Chimu you were so beautiful. I loved you letting me take your halter and lead off. I loved it when you let me lead you on walks. I feel so sad that you died. I wish you could still be alive because you were one of my best friends.
One of my favourite memories is when we take you and Inti out for Christmas and birthday photos. I liked it when you stand around eating while I play in the tree forts. I liked it when you would eat mints out of my hand. I loved it when you come and look through the door when I’m eating, to see what I am doing.
I loved giving you pats. I am very sad that you were very sick and died . I liked you looking through my bedroom window when you went to the toilet. You liked to see what I was doing in my room. I wish that you were still alive but I will always be there for you. And I feel like you can still hear me. I was very sad when you died. So sad I didn’t want to do anything. I have never loved anything as much as you.
I miss you and love you. I want you to come back now. You are my friend.
Chimu 16.2.07 – 18.9.21
Our beautiful blue-eyed, fluffy guts. We don’t know what we will do without you. Fourteen and half years wasn’t enough fun and adventure with you.
The kids have grown up with you, from the day they were born, they learnt to walk dragging you along, and slept with you outside their bedroom windows keeping them safe.
You opened the kitchen door and let yourself in for snacks, and constantly ate our veggie garden and washing. We all miss you so much, along with your partner in crime Inti, who you bossed around for 14.5 years despite being half his size.
Inti watched over you in your final moments and kept you safe and understands you are gone but he misses you terribly, as do we. I will never forget holding you, and stroking your giant fluffy neck as tears rolled down it from those beautiful blue eyes, only a few hours before you left us.
I knew then you were sicker than you let on. We didn’t realise how little time we had left with you but the thousands of photos and infinite memories will live on for all of us.
A very treasured member of our family and you bought so much joy to all the people who saw you out on your daily walks. Life and our backyard will never be the same. RIP Chimu
A life well-lived and never forgotten. I’m glad we chose you to be part of our family and I know you loved life in our Camelid Castle.