As far as Anne Gobes is concerned, nothing can brighten a day as much as gazing at a herd of alpacas.
“It’s really what pleases and excites me about having alpacas,” Gobes, president of the Maine Alpaca Association, said. “When people come to our farm and take pictures of the alpacas or just stand and look at them, they are just smiling and ecstatic.”
One look at the fuzzy, wide-eyed, mop-topped members of the camelid family and it’s easy to see why they can make people happy by their very presence.
Gobes and her husband Michael Ciccarelli raise 19 alpacas on their Cape Newagen Alpacas farm just outside Boothbay. Two days ago they welcomed the newest member of the herd: a bouncing, fuzzy girl.
Smaller than though often confused with their relative the llama, alpacas were bred for fiber and meat production. Llamas, on the other hand, are used primarily as pack animals.
A full-grown alpaca is between 110 and 190 pounds and can stand up to 3 feet at the shoulders. Despite their South American roots, they are perfectly happy living in Maine and often can be seen romping in or sleeping on the snow.
They are not, Gobes, said, lap animals or cuddle buddies.
“People often want to cuddle and get cozy with them,” Gobes said. “But they are like a beautiful sunset to be observed, and the nature of their beauty is wonderful.”
That is not say, she added, that alpacas can’t be socialized to be around humans and enjoy their company.
Which is exactly what Janice Bouchard of Bouchard Family Farms in Fort Kent is doing with the two new alpacas who arrived just this week.
Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.
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