Well, Patrick and I visited Jerry Braatz's alpaca farm out in Tabernacle today, and we greatly enjoyed ourselves. I learned a lot about raising alpacas and even more about their fleece. Jerry walked us around all the enclosures and introduced us to some of the alpacas (they all have names like Lord Sterling and Delonna) and we got to touch them. He was incredibly nice.
My main goal in going was to procure some basic information on alpacas in general, and the likelihood of plausibly keeping two or three as pets. He said two males would be fine, as long as they had a shelter and food.
One of the fields we spent a lot of time in was the one that held all of the young males that they weren't sure about yet. That is, sure if they are stud material or not. These guys were very curious and a few walked right up to me and smelled me a bit before walking away again.
Apparently, all alpacas are that way. They're insatiably curious. If you open a gate into another field, they have to go explore it. If you leave your hat on the ground, they'll stare at it for a while (We had a demonstration of this) and it drives them crazy. You can see the gears turning in their heads. What is it? Is it tasty? Will it bite? Can I kick it, will it hurt? Eventually they'll come up, sniff it, and sooner or later pick it up and walk away with it. They're social, too, like all herd animals. Jerry said if you kept only one alpaca they won't last six months. I'd believe it.
Patrick finally got to pet one, and he was in heaven. He was almost as excited about the trip as I was. I bought some fleece in a lovely dark brown color, which turned out to be Delonna's blanket. (That's the fleece that comes off their back and sides.) She has a wonderful crimp in her fleece, and there's a few bits that are slightly lighter than others, so it's not a solid shade of brown.
I managed to harvest quite a bit of general knowledge on the raising and breeding of alpacas, though my dad doesn't want so much to breed as to keep them as pets. I'm hoping it will be enough to get him started on his own research (though I'm sure he's already done some) and Jerry said he'd be glad to have my dad come down and visit and talk about alpacas. He really was quite friendly and helpful.
I had a great time, I'm glad I got to go. Hope your week starts out as well as mine has.
"Life's like a movie, write your own ending.
Keep believing, keep pretending
We've done just what we've set out to do."
~The Muppet Movie reprise of Rainbow Connection