Tanglewood Farm

where alpacas are a passion, not just a business

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Escaping Apacas

After seeing all those people running and chasing the two Llamas that escaped several days ago, I had to think back to my own first days with my alpacas. I had just gotten my animals the day before, and I wanted them to come from the field into the enclosed area where their barn was. I had been told to get a 25 foot tape that Marty McGee uses and so I had that on hand. There was just one difficulty with that, I was the only person on the farm, and there was nobody to hold the other end of the tape.

I tried for two hours until I was exhausted, to get them to move where I wanted them to be. Then neighbors came to help, and it took another hour before we got them where they were supposed to be. I was very grateful, but that night I thought that I had to figure out something better, something that I could do by myself, so the next day I went to a large hardware store and looked around for ideas. My eyes spotted some neon colored nylon rope that came in 100 foot lengths, so I got some of that, and then thought I had better get two rolls of it. After some more hunting, I came across those reels that are used to wind up electric cords, etc. They have knobs on them so it is easy to roll up stuff like the rope on them.

As soon as I got home, set out to find out if my plan would work. I hooked one of my bucket hangers on the loose end of one of the ropes, tied the other two ends together, and wound up everything on the reel I had. The 200 ft of rope just fit on that reel, so then I proceeded to hook the bucket hanger onto the fencing by the barn and started to unroll the rope behind me as I went CALMLY toward my animals who were grazing about 175 feet from the barn. Slowly I walked behind them, with the brightly colored orange rope on the ground. I made it wiggle a bit, they eyed it and started to move away from it, in the direction I wanted them to go. Keeping the rope behind them, I slowly got them moving closer and closer to the barn until I finally had them in the fenced in area and could close the gate behind them.

The whole procedure lasted about seven minutes, and neither my animals nor I was winded from the effort. As I became more proficient with handling the rope, and my animals got used to it, I timed it down to about a minute. Later on, I used this method very efficiently when I wanted to move my animals from one barn to another pasture. No energy was wasted, and no stress was put on my animals.

This method came into very good use when I went to do a breeding at another farm to which I had to travel four hours one way. The female I was taking there had a cria at her side, so I took the cria with the dam since I was going to be gone overnight. I also took the reel with my 200 ft rope with me, as a precaution. We got the breeding done, and I put both dam and her cria back into my trailer, shut the door and then heard a thump from the other end of the trailer. Upon checking it out, I realized that the side door at the other end had not been shut all the way and being the smart girl that she was, mom had pushed it open and jumped out, with baby, of course, following suit. They both headed down the driveway toward the road. There were several people in the driveway and of course, they all started to run to catch them. I told them to stop and got my rope, calmly handed the one end to one person who was to stand still and just wait,while I walked, slowly toward my animals, circled them and dropped the rope behind them. Well, they knew the drill and did exactly what I wanted them to do, which was head back toward the fenced in area. Mission accomplished in under three minutes. I shut the side door on the trailer, got them both on leads and loaded back into the trailer. Now, whenever I leave to go anywhere, even if it is to the vet's, I take that reel and rope with me.