For my birthday last November my partners parents adopted me an Alpaca for my birthday. I have no idea where or how my Alpaca/Llama obsession started but it is a thing. As part of my Alpaca Adoption I got to go and walk my adopted Alpaca.
Obviously I was extremely excited about this opportunity and my partner and I have been discussing visiting an Alpaca Farm for a while now. I have to admit though I was slightly nervous about the walk mainly because I can’t walk very far or stand for very long at all nowadays but my partner convinced me that we would do the walk (in my wheelchair of course) and he would ensure I could get around. After all the worst that could happen is we do a small walk and then I just sit with the Alpaca until the end of the session, which sounds pretty good to me too!
So on Saturday 2nd September we went to the Alpaca Farm! We got to the Farm and parked up and made our way down to the start where we saw most of the Alpacas the farm has 50 Alpacas! They also have a 2 month old cria (cria being the word for a baby Alpaca) and obviously he was adorable! We had a quick talk about Alpacas and then moved on to saying hello! We went through the gate to the next field where they were getting ready to let out the male Alpacas they were all ready with there hulti’s. We were only walking the male Alpacas as all the females are pregnant therefore can’t be walked.
There were a few pairs (Alpacas were walked in pairs) that like me had adopted an Alpaca therefore they organised making sure we could walk our Alpaca. For reasons I shall explain at the end of the blog there was another family wanting to walk my adopted Alpaca Guadeloupe, therefore it was agreed that we would swap half way around the walk. This is something they do anyway to allow everyone to meet a few different Alpacas. There were 40 of us on this particular walk.
Alpacas are quite nervous creatures, the farm owners were telling us stories of how certain handbags made the Alpacas feel uneasy. Unfortunately for me this meant that most of the Alpacas were afraid of my wheelchair! I have to be honest though in the last week I’ve had 3 or 4 dogs bark at me when they’ve seen me so this wasn’t a huge surprise. Although the dog thing hasn’t ever happened before…
This meant that we just had to slowly introduce the Alpacas to me, they were only weary when at a close distance therefore someone walked Guadeloupe beside me and slowly he got closer and I managed to walk him. We stopped fairly frequently under shade to hear some more about Alpacas and Guadeloupe didn’t particularly like therefore he’d more around a lot but eventually calm down with a stroke along his neck and back. Note: Alpacas don’t like being touched on the head as it reminds them of flies.
We continued our walked by I had to hand Guadeloupe back to a member of staff whilst we got my wheelchair through some wet grass, it was only a small amount compared to the rest of the walk which was absolutely fine and completely dry. We were lucky that it was a really lovely hot day! With support of my partner I got up, out of my wheelchair and walked him (Guadeloupe not my partner) to a little gap in the river to cool himself down. What staff hadn’t told me is that Guadeloupe isn’t found of going to the river however, I managed to encourage him closer than he’s been before! (I definitely felt like that was a win for me).
We walked slightly further and then we swapped Alpacas. Now because I didn’t get walk Guadeloupe for the whole walk they swapped him for his brother! Casco! Casco was a beautiful colour with an excellent coat, he has even won a few award (2nd place I believe but that’s still good!) again we had to introduce him to my wheelchair but unlike Guadeloupe, Casco didn’t mind getting up close and personal when we stood still, he quite enjoyed a stroke but when we got moving things didn’t quite go to plan…
I decided to hand him back to a staff member, a very lovely lady we had been talking to on and off. As we continue to walk with him slightly behind us the Alpaca who had been behind us – one that was trying to escape his pen so was taken on the walk by a member of staff who took pity on him decide he was quite interested. He was a lovely white coated Alpaca and came up for a good sniff! He sniffed my chair ALL OVER and me! Then proceeded to walk beside me instead of the lady walking him. Several times whilst walking and when we finished the walk he tried to curl his neck down and up towards me. I was told he was trying to give me a cuddle, which was fine by me!
Once we finished the walk we took them Alpacas off their halti’s and let them loose we gave them a feed and said our goodbyes. I have such a great time and it had been such a lovely day. Nothing was going to ruin the experience for me I was extremely grateful for my partner James and for getting me around the field – because grass isn’t easy in a wheelchair! We then went off to the garden centre next door for a well needed refreshing drink, a sausage roll and of course a cake! By the time we were heading home I was most definitely tired. I made myself comfy in the car we headed home.
Now I wish I could end this happily here but there are few more things I wish to tell you about our day. Before I do I’d like to make it clear that I had a great day! Walking some Alpacas around a field may not seem like much but what can I say? I’m easily please!
I left booking of our day up to my partner he got in contact with the owner and was asked to send an email. They booked in a date and time (they only run one session a day anyway) James then mentioned that I would be in my wheelchair to which he was told that wouldn’t be possible due to the grass and ground on the field. We then responded with could I do a small amount of the walk and then sit with some of the Alpacas in the field or at the pen. We were told that this would be fine but if we had any problems with what we were going to do his staff would not be available to help.
I hadn’t exactly expected the Farm to be disability friendly but a little more consideration and manners would not have gone a miss. When we arrived at the farm on the Saturday we were told we weren’t on the list by the owner himself? We then provided evidence of the email chain and we were told he would squeeze us in as someone has cancelled but that we hadn’t booked! As you. Can imagine I wasn’t please given it was there in black and white!
After this everything seemed fine until we were ‘sharing out the Alpacas’ and I over heard a conversation. The owner was explaining to the other family how we would have to share Guadeloupe because “two people had shown up without booking and they have also adopted Guadeloupe but (he) couldn’t say anything because she (I) is in a wheelchair.”
As you could probably imagine I was not pleased by this, my blood was boiling! I was preparing myself to say something to shame this man in front of 40 other people but instead I took a few breaths I told James what I had heard and told him this; “I have really been looking forward to this and I don’t want to ruin my experience so I am going to ignore him and enjoy the day.”
I don’t regret this decision although I regret not saying anything to him at the end but as I said I had the best day, why ruin it? I a debating writing a letter not necessarily to complain but to inform him that his behaviour and attitude to disability, to a disabled person. That what he did is not ok and should not be tolerated.
After all we should stick up for ourselves and what is right. Just because you have a disability, medical condition, personality trait etc that makes you different does not mean you deserve to be treated any differently to a “normal” person.