Alpacas and gypsies

Ian feeding his alpaca. Photo by David Lansing.

Ian took me around yesterday morning to have a look at some of the other residents on their estate, beginning with several alpacas. Cute little buggers. He made a little whistling sound and a juvenile camelid (alpacas belong to the same family as camels and llamas), newly shorn, mosied over to eat oats out of Ian’s hand.

I asked him about the shorn hair, which is quite valuable, and he said that at the moment it was in a heap in a garbage bag. “We’re not sure what to do with it,” he admitted. “We haven’t quite figured out how one goes about having a sweater or some socks made from alpaca hair. I mean, who do you give it to?”

Good point. I can’t imagine that there are a lot of women in their little village of Wiltshire with a thriving business weaving alpaca fibers. But then again, it can’t be terribly different from weaving wool, can it? Still, who would you give a bag of wool to and expect to get a sweater in return?

After feeding the alpacas, we went up the hill to the stables and Ian opened a rather large lock and pulled back the door. I asked why on earth he needed to lock up the stables way out here in the country. He said that shortly after they’d bought the estate, they’d had some saddles and other gear stolen. Evidently there’s an established band of gypsies in the area that will steal a car in one village then drive to another and just drive up to one country estate or another, stealing whatever is easily accessible. Not long after their saddles had been pilfered, the thieves returned, looking for more loot, and got stuck on the drive by the newly-installed electronic gates. So they just abandoned the car and fled into the woods.

I’ll bet they would have known what to do with a plastic bag full of alpaca hair.