In Praise of Alpacas


It’s never a great idea to admit to a passion for a particular breed of livestock, particularly when you are Welsh. I’ve never known how the international stereotype arose and probably never will, it falls under the heading of Things I Am Worried To Google, yet it perseveres even amongst our own kind.
Many years ago, a friend I shall refer to as Berwyn, because that is his name, told us he had broken a sheep’s leg over the weekend. Into the vacuum which followed, he rapidly explained he had fallen over a fence and onto the sheep. We were all very relieved to hear this explanation but I’m not sure any of us then present will ever remember Berwyn for anything other than breaking a sheep’s leg in definitely not dubious circumstances.

I am as fond of sheep as the next person, unless that person is Berwyn of course. I love the Hampshire Down and Lincoln breeds. The Lincolns are basically an Old English Sheepdog re-imagined as a sheep that you’ve permed, while the Hampshires are round, fluffy and slightly evil looking.
While I am able to summon an enthusiasm for sheep, such enthusiasm does not last for very long. Once the fact of their existence has been fully assimilated into my brain, I grow bored of them. Sheep do not do much other than catch pneumonia when the weather is excessively wet. They are also only worth keeping if you intend to kill and eat them at a later date. A sheep’s fleece is barely worth the money it costs to sheer it.

Instead, I have an enthusiasm for Alpacas. Alpacas are great. They’re look like Llamas, but instead of biting your head and spitting at you, they protect things. If they are pregnant, they conveniently only give birth between 10am and 3pm.
On The Yokel Show, which the BBC insists on referring to as Countryfile, Adam the farmer went down to visit some sheep on Portland Bill. In the field, the shepherd had three alpacas to protect the sheep from whatever calamities might have befallen them in an isolated field on the south coast. As soon as the alpacas clocked the threatening ginger figure advancing upon their charges, they immediately ran to form a defensive triangle around their dinner trough and looked at him with great suspicion. Oh yes, alpacas can look suspicious; that’s how great they are!
When not being convenient, protecting things or looking suspicious, alpacas remain busy growing their fur. An unprocessed alpaca fleece, I am reliably informed, goes for about £30 sterling (a sheep fleece is worth under a pound) and a freshly shorn alpaca remains one of the most comedic sights upon this earth.

Clearly, I need to find some sort of excuse to buy some alpacas. Having given this some careful thought, I have decided that what County Wexford sorely lacks is an Alpaca Rental Service.

As in the UK, it has become rather au fait around here to keep your own chickens. My neighbour (not the porn star, another one) is getting some chickens. My other neighbour already has some. My Dutch friend is getting some. My posh friends out on the Hook have some. Miranda at the garden centre had some for sale but when the bloke came to take them away for the winter, she gave him some money to let her keep them instead. Mammy has been desperate for some for years.
So, my plan runs thusly: You get chickens. You swiftly discover said chickens are vulnerable to foxes, dogs and other rural based predatory creatures. I come to your house and hand you a leaflet filled with threatening statistics regarding how many chickens a typical buzzard can carry away in a year and how this can be prevented through renting an Alpaca from me for a reasonable sum. You rent an Alpaca from me. Your chickens are kept safe, I have Alpacas, the world becomes as it deserves to be.

If only my bank manager could understand my vision.

In other news:
It’s been a rather damp day today. The newsagent, no doubt spurred on by the plethora or news surrounding him, observed this.
“It’s a wintery day,” he said.
I knew this. I had just been out it in. I made the reply Mammy made to me when I made a similar observation earlier that morning; “Yes, but it will bring the garden on a treat!”
“No,” he said, “It won’t. It’s. Too. Cold.”
He didn’t verbally add “now take your paper and go you hippy, Guardian reading optimist,” but I like to think it was implied by his stance.

2 comments:

Lindy said...

Down here in the Southern Hemisphere, where life is difficult because we are upside down, we have a similar stereotype regarding New Zealanders and sheep. It is near impossible for a Kiwi (our affectionate nickname for the citizens of NZ) to mention sheep without causing much unseemly sniggering and eyeball rolling. There are many many jokes. You, being Welsh, have probably heard them all.
I like your idea for an Alpaca Rental Business. They are adorable animals.

Theo said...

The Kiwis are keen on sheep because they are all Welsh. This is why they are so good at Rugby. Fact.