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City Girl, Country Girl (Ollie Series #1)

November 23, 2012

She’s a little bit country… and a little bit rock and roll, meet Jillian, the newest addition to the Blue Sky Alpacas family. She is the Operations and Communications Specialist here at Blue Sky Alpacas, so she is generally tackling a myriad of behind-the-scenes projects. However, Jillian will also be popping in from time to time here on the Blue’s Blog to give you a glimpse into being a new team member at Blue Sky Alpacas and to share more of her upcoming exciting adventure series!

(Thanks, Katie, for the intro!)

Over the last few months, my life has been a whirlwind of crazy, wonderful changes as I transition from being a city girl to a country girl. When people ask me what I’ve been up to, it’s a long story full of tidbits like “I have a new job at Blue Sky Alpacas!” and “My husband and I bought a house in the country!” and, most surprisingly, “I am buying an alpaca!!!! *flails*”

Most people just skip right over the job and the house and go right to flailing over the alpaca with me: “An alpaca?? Is that like a llama? Where will you keep it? YOU? ARE BUYING AN ALPACA?? I never thought I would know anyone who owns an alpaca.”

And then I tell them that I never thought I would know anyone who does, either, and I especially never thought that the person I know who owns one would be me.

The first person I knew who has alpacas is actually my neighbor, Linda, the owner of Blue Sky Alpacas. Since moving in, I have visited Linda and her alpacas (including Mr. Jones!) often:

Cassius, Reggie, Mr. Jones

Linda’s alpacas, from left to right: Cassius, Reggie, and Mr. Jones.

Recently, Linda told me that she will have room for a couple more alpacas soon… and that, as a result, I’d be welcome to board an alpaca of my very own with her existing alpacas! Cool!

But it would be a looong time before I found an alpaca to bring home, right?

Wrong.

Knowing I had the eventual goal of owning an alpaca, I began to research alpaca ownership. As a first step, my husband, Logan, and I went to an open house at Foggy Bottom Alpacas this past September. We went with the intention of “looking,” but you know how that goes.

Mark and Barb, who own Foggy Bottom Alpacas, and their daughter, Sara, who manages Foggy Bottom Alpacas as well as her own Over the Rainbow Alpaca Ranch, gave us the loveliest tour and spent a lot of time with us, patiently answering our numerous and frequent questions.

We ended our tour in the area where the female alpacas (called “dams”) hang out with their babies (called “crias”) and I saw a tiiiny little cria who stole my heart immediately:

Three-Day-Old Ollie

Three-day-old Ollie. (I know, right? That face! The ears! So fuzzy! So little!)

I asked Barb about the little one, and she told me that he is a boy named Oliver (which we all quickly shortened to Ollie). He was born on September 26 and already had quite a fun story in that his mom, Duchess, had quietly birthed him while all the caretakers were inside for lunch. Sara came out of the house and—surprise!—there Ollie was, sitting near the fence as if he’d always been there! After doing a double-take, Sara scooped him up, named him Oliver, and called the vet to have him checked over.

Since it is important for crias to gain at least a quarter to a half pound of weight a day, they are weighed daily for several months after birth to make sure they’re on track. (Even through adulthood, alpacas are such stoic animals that often times their weight—or lack thereof—may be the only indication that something is wrong.)

Overall, Ollie was very healthy, but, although he was standing and walking and playing, he was not gaining enough weight. Having had failure to thrive myself as a premature baby, I immediately felt a connection to Ollie. Not to mention the fact that we both have September birthdays!

As we chatted and watched the crias play, Barb mentioned that Ollie would likely be a fiber boy and not a breed sire, which meant that… *I* could be Ollie’s owner! 😀

But, would it work out? Would I really be able to buy Ollie and raise him as my very own? Would Ollie grow consistently and become a healthy little boy?

Ollie at Meal Time

Ollie with his mom, Duchess, at meal time. See how he eats with his tail up? So cute!

Stay tuned as the series on Ollie continues!

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