It is a bright, sunny and very cold day at the farm and from my home office I have a panoramic view of the pastures where the cria are nestled beside their Mom’s for an afternoon nap. To the north, through the trees I can see our new barn being built. I am certainly a different person then I was ten years ago.
Having spent the majority of my adult life living in a semi detached home at Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton, raising my girls, I was a city girl and I loved every minute of it. Neighbours less then 25 feet away, always there to lend each other groceries or to end the day on the porch enjoying a drink and watching the kids playing pick up on the street. High heels, walking to get groceries, restaurants and movies it was a fast paced busy not so private life full of the sounds of the city. Then I met Steve.
Soon I was living on thirty acres in the town of Goodwood which has a bakery and a gas station. Yes I buy my wine at the local Co-op. My one maple tree has been replaced by acres of maples, birch and evergreens. A walk now is with the dog through our very own forest or to the bottom of the driveway to pick up our mail. Our neighbour is acres away, the sky is clear, the stars shine bright and my days are filled with commuting to work, gardening and enjoying the sounds of birds, foxes, coyotes….a country girl is born! Very soon I found the idea of a commute to the city for any reason of no interest. Baking, preserving, gardening, cheese making, maple syrup production now happily filled my days. The city girl has gone country. And then Steve met the Alpacas.
Gone is the commuting to work and the high heels have been replaced by a good, warm, sturdy pair of barn boots. My morning starts at the break of dawn, or earlier, I roll out of bed, put on the long underwear, the alpaca socks, the Carhart pants, two sweaters and my barn jacket topped off with a warm hat and mitts. It seems daunting each and every morning but Buddy, our Bernese Mountain Dog, is eager to get outside and play on our way to the barn. At the fence I am greeted by the two Great Pyrs, Smith and Wesson. Tails wagging, slightly tired from a night of guarding but always thrilled to see me. And then I hear them, the soft hums of the alpacas. Always first to the door is Axl Rose to the Occasion, nicknamed Axe Man (he broke Tanto’s leg) with his great smile, humming as he knows I am there for him. Lazily rising is Karizzma and Tanto. Feeding is expected immediately our the boys gets grumpy. We have our routine and as long as I adhere to it everyone is happy. Then it is time to feed the cria. Seven gorgeous six month old alpacas. I call out “babies” and they are all in a line behind me as I lead them to the stall for a private feeding. Curious, full of alpaca kisses, hums and nudging I love this part of the day. When I finally pull myself away from the crias I am off to feed the Mom’s. After a year of spending hours with them each day I know their personalities, can spot signs of distress, or just an alpaca needing some love. As I walk amongst them I realize I have their trust, they aren’t running away, nervous or stressed they are humming, stepping aside to let me pass or coming to greet me with a sniff or kiss. Everyone is calm it is just me the two legged one. I have become one of the herd. I am a farmer.