This morning we said good-bye to our friend, Marc, the most stubborn, opinionated, irritating alpaca ever to walk this earth, one who we loved with all our hearts, and who will be sorely missed.
To understand our journey together, you need to know the history. Almost nineteen years ago, I saw an article in the local paper about alpacas. I’d never seen an alpaca, never. I’d seen llamas, but not alpacas. There was a local farm that offered that families could come visit and hang out with the alpacas for free. So we went.
And I met alpacas. And I fell in love. I mean, LOVE! They were beautiful, and interesting, and just captured my heart.
So for almost two years, we researched, visited farms, put aside little bits of money, and finally bought two alpacas, with third thrown in as a rescue animal. There was fluffy white Saber, feeble-but-brilliant-and-loving Chad, and baby Marc. They arrived at our house on a freezing cold January day, we didn’t even have a real barn for them, and they moved into our vegetable garden area because it had a rudimentary fence around it.
Over the next months, we (okay, Paul) built a little barn, put up real fencing, and got to know our new friends. And the love affair stayed the same. I just plain loved being with them, watching them, listening to them. Once we sheared them, I learned to spin, and another love was born.
Year after year, our little herd changed as members passed away, but Marc stayed the constant.
One year, we went to Grand Manaan on vacation, and while we were gone, there was a bear attack, and one of the other alpacas was killed — but Marc and his buddy Erv jumped the fence, and ran almost a mile away to safety. When the bear came back a couple nights later, Marc jumped the fence again, and ran to find his protector, Paul. From that day on, Paul was Marc’s buddy. Oh, yes, they fought — you should have seen the daily battle over when Marc would try to take all the grain from the other alpacas, and Paul would keep him away. But when Marc got out last New Year’s Eve, and got lost — we hadn’t realized he’d developed night blindness — it was only Paul who he would follow home. And then there was the repeated garlic incidents — Marc would get out of his pasture and go roll in the garlic beds and eat scapes, and you all know how important the garlic is to us as a family. Then there was the time that Marc protected me when our ram had gotten upset, and went after me, hitting me and injuring me, and when the ram pulled back to hit me again, Marc got between us.
Oh yeah, he had his wussy moments too. He’d scream like a baby when it was time to shear him. And a squirrel could spook him and he’d give that eerie alpaca scream to let us know something was wrong.
And eat, that animal could eat. He’d gobble his food, always looking for more, and would make sure he’d get more than the others. Apples and kale were the favorites, although squash plants were high on the list too. Just Saturday we took him some apples, and stood and laughed watching him eat them, taking a bite from each one, almost as if making sure that the others wouldn’t want them after he’d bitten them — like siblings licking cookies…
So today, we mourn his passing — knowing that he had a long, healthy, happy, joy filled, protected life — but we will miss him still. He was the first to the gate to see us, loved to have his neck scratched, could kick like a maniac, and always made us laugh. How lucky we are to have had him in our lives for so long!
In his honor, here’s a little collage of pictures of him.