Having had her baby a few weeks earlier, she had just been shorn of her fleece – to make gorgeous and expensive clothing – which had left her looking a bit like a punk rock sheep with a long neck.
I’ve tried to resist putting my friends’ herd of alpacas in a book, for one reason or another, but once I’d been to spend time with the herd, I could resist it no longer. So Emilia, in Is This Love? is going to have a starter herd for five pregnant females and, having recently found an interest in yoga, is going to call the babies after yoga moves, like Warrior II and Triangle. Emilia is the young wife of a rich industrialist, so can pretty much have what she wants, and she wants alpacas.
She’s also going to use the herd to irritate my new hero, Jed, who works for Emilia’s husband, Tom.
They make a soothing noise, as well, called humming. It’s not an impatient or condemnatory hum, it’s not even a musing one, but more of an approving, ‘Mmm!’ as if the alpacas, having looked at you, like what they see.
What came as an absolute surprise to me is that alpacas are guardians. Shepherds will buy a couple (they hate hanging out alone) and put them in with the sheep and the alpacas act as an early warning system when there’s a fox about. Very effective, apparently.
Alpacas come in all shades of fawn, gold, brown and black and the pregnancy of a female will last over eleven months, usually. (Can’t help but feel that they have a raw deal, there.) As you can see from the pic, they have little camel-like two-toed hoofs. Bless.