Perks of being a photographer: sometimes, you get to hang out with about 50 alpacas. This past spring break, that is exactly what I did. I paid a visit to Kim and Brad DeLaney's Huacaya alpaca farm in Wilmington, Ohio, to work on an assignment that I had for my photojournalism class. The DeLaney's have been maintaining the alpaca farm for nine years, and neither of them had had any previous farming experience. However, I learned that alpacas, compared to typical farm animals like cows and horses, are relatively easy to maintain. The DeLaney's breed, show, and sell the alpcas as well as use their fleece to make products such as mittens, socks, and yarn.
I got to the farm a little before eight in the morning - the time at which Kim begins her morning routine of feeding the animals and cleaning up the farm. She began by feeding the chickens and telling me a story about a particular rooster that likes to cause problems. Next, she fed each group of alpacas. Suprisingly, the alpacas don't eat that much! I thought that was amazing considering their size, but Kim told me that in fact, alpacas are very skinny - it is their fleece that makes them look big. Each alpaca has about 5 inches deep of fleece on their body. She introduced me to several of the animals, telling me details about each one of them. In particular, I remember one called "Little Brown Boy," the runt of his group. Little Brown Boy wasn't expected to survive due to his size when he was born, but instead, he is living a good life. He needs to take a vitamin supplement each day to help with his growth, but other than that he is doing well. Another alpaca that I met was Emerson - an alpaca that the DeLaney's are currently boarding. I noticed parts of Emerson's personality, like the fact that he is quieter and more reserved than the other alpacas. When I left the farm, I felt like I really knew the personalities of some of the animals, which felt great to me because I love animals. As I watched Kim go about her daily routine, I noticed that the way she interacted with the alpacas and the barn cats was evidence of an admirable motherly bond.
The experience I had at KB Alpacas was incredible. Not only did I have the opportunity to improve my skills as a photojournalist, but I also learned a lot about what it takes to run a farm and about the alpacas themselves. Thanks so much Kim and Brad!