For many, keeping alpacas is a lifestyle choice and a foray into a more rural and slower-paced existence. For all of us, it introduces regular alpaca-smiles into our lives. Whenever you get a chance, spend some time with an alpaca.
With an alpaca business, sometimes you get lucky with positioning or timing and can make your alpaca business work smoothly and naturally with great rewards. For most of us mere mortals, we have to employ hard work, which is fine, as long as you know that’s what you are signing up for. Being deliberate and intentional about what you are doing, whatever it is, brings progress and rewards.
This morning as I was feeding my group of girls, I was aware of how they were responding — mainly standing around watching.
They were standing around watching because I was mucking out before feeding them. I usually do this – it seems like a good idea to clear the decks. And while they hold their ground, they do look at me slightly suspiciously when I have a brush in my hand. More so as I start moving the wheelbarrow, but – many of them now allow me to sweep near their feet without flinching. Sometimes they are in the way.
What is going on here is a balance between threat and treat. The alpacas want their food and know that it is coming and so will tolerate a certain level of Potential Threat to be sure they do not miss out on their share of the food.
Regularly my alpacas’ experience has been that I have provided the promised food – much more often than fulfilling any threat.
What is your experience when you are around alpacas? – do they trust you? – a simple example is that moving steadily with purpose is better than creeping around and making sudden movements. Do they stand their ground watching you with interest, or is that a hint of panic you see in their eyes?
Do they know what you are doing? Do they know what to expect? Have you got ‘positive history’ in the bank? It is worth making regular investments in that savings account.
Repetition is an essential part of learning, and whether you realise it or not, they are learning from you every day — familiarity breeds confidence (as well as that other thing). Confidence in both you and in them.
Build your confidence
My reflection this morning as I carried out my daily chores was that I was missing an opportunity. If I became more intentional, could I build something positive with this repetition? Regular small steps to make progress.
To be intentional, I would need to have a plan, a purpose and some goals – goals that were small, attainable and part of growth or development.
Progress goes in a Cycle – with reflecting; revising, and; repeating – the more you do something, the better it gets – at least it will get better if you are doing the reflect, revise and repeat parts. Don’t get good at doing the wrong thing.
It is your mindset that will make the most significant difference here – taking the lifetime-learner approach.
- It makes a difference to your situation as you learn
- You can have a fixed or flexible mindset – you never know what is coming next with alpacas, so a flexible and resilient approach will serve you well.
- Think about what you have and what you need and start creating that mindset for your future. Today is always a good day to start.
Basics of mucking out
- Wear gloves
- Always wear wellies
- Learn to use a broom – for those who need some help (and a smile) watch this video
- Combine with the brush a light wide shovel, like this
- You are not on your own – look for connections
- Be intentional – use daily chores as opportunities
- Keep learning
We need to recognise three things about expected alpaca behaviour. 1. There is a normal – for alpacas in general and each alpaca individually. 2. Expected behaviour has a cause as does unexpected behaviour. 3. You can help or hinder developing good expected behaviour.
If it feels like a fight and a struggle every day with your alpacas, there may be a different way. A different way of thinking, being and doing to bring you alpaca success.
Setting up an alpaca business needs planning and preparation. Diversification helps generate more income but it may take time to build. Selling your first alpacas is always a challenge.