Due to the large number of couples who enter the alpaca business, we thought it would be fun to address the communication challenges (and opportunities) that come with this rewarding work/life arrangement.


Alpaca relationships

"Hey Honey - move that girl over there."

Okay. So you know exactly what you're saying and it certainly seems crystal clear to you. The problem is there are four girls in the general vicinity of where you pointed, and two stalls "there." But you're expecting action from your partner and when he/she gets the wrong girl....and puts her in the wrong "there". That's when it gets interesting.

How can we avoid this misunderstanding? Start by seeing the picture your partner sees. Slow down and explain what you need in a couple steps. For example, if you want to move the one brown girl amongst a group of white ones.... Say that. Of course you are really lucky if your partner knows the alpacas by name, but I'm just not that fortunate.

Then there is the "there" part of the request. We have numbers on our stalls and have also have numbered our pastures. So "there" can be easily clarified for us and we would highly recommend numbering those items. Take it from us; we've been "there."

Alpaca haltering

Showing Your Partner How to Halter

I (Kristie) am a big believer in the "Tell-Show-Do-Review" process for helping someone learn something new. I used to be a trainer in corporate America, so I take this stuff pretty seriously, but I also know that not everyone learns the same way. Especially my dear husband.

I had just come home from a Camelidynamics class where I learned the "proper" method of haltering. I proceeded to describe to Brion why halter fit is so important. Brion's eyes began to glaze over. So I quickly took the halter, held it sideways, placed it gently over Brion's hand that was pretending to be an alpaca head.

Then I talked to him about NOT putting his arm or hand around the alpaca's neck. I decided that I just needed to get on with it. I moved on to the "Show" part of the process and showed him haltering directly on the alpaca. He felt comfortable to then "Do" it himself. After watching him, I thought it was just best to hone in on one of the things he could do that would make the process easier on the alpaca.

Yes, it was difficult for the perfectionist in me not to tell him all the wrong things he did. But you know, the alpaca was pretty good, and so was Brion! I, of course, need to continue working on me.

Proper alpaca poop cleaning

Proper POOP Cleaning (At Least From My Perspective)

So why do we pick up poop in the barn and pastures anyway? Number one, it helps with parasite control. Two, it looks better. And three, it's much nicer for us to work around. We both take it very seriously for all those reasons. However, how we do the task is sometimes a point of contention.

I (Kristie) like to get every bean, every day. Brion on the other hand would rather clean up the bigger piles and leave a few beans here and there. I tend to think that how we keep the barn and pastures is a reflection on how well I clean our home. Okay, I know that's crazy, but we truly believe it is a reflection of how well we care for our alpacas. But, I also know I need to lighten up a bit.

Then there's the opinion of what tools to use. Brion will use any excuse to use a tool. The more high powered, the better. So using a blow torch after picking up the poop piles to assure we're eliminating any parasites is nirvana for Brion. Well, now I've exagerated, just like I do when I'm attempting to get every last bean in the pasture. But one thing I must admit is ... thank goodness he helps me at all. So, thank you Brion for all the help you do give.