Saturday, August 10, 2013

Alpaca Farm Life Question: What is Hardest Part?

This week has been the answer to the question of what is the hardest part of living an alpaca farm life?  The answer is easy really.  It is losing an animal.  This week I lost two lovely creatures.  A cria lost its valiant effort at living after only a few days and I lost my sweet barn kitty the following day.  It never gets easy losing these sweet animals.  It breaks my heart each and every time.  The next question I get asked is, "How do I do it when I do lose an animal?"  That question is a little harder to answer.  These animals have taught me so much about life and living it to the fullest.  And, they have taught me much about grief.  My Master's Thesis I wrote was on the topic of grief.  How I wish I could rewrite that now because I understand it at such a more depthful way after owning and experiencing it WITH these alpacas.  I highlight "with" because it truly is with them.  They grieve for the lost of their friends and babies too.  By observing their grief, it has helped me deal with my own grief so much better. 

Our American culture doesn't handle grief overly well.  We don't teach and educate ourselves and our children about it yet it is something we are 100% guaranteed we are going to face in life and face it many times.  It seems like this culture does its utmost to avoid any idea of death and grief.  I had to experience grief for the first time at a young age when I lost my father.  Yet, it hasn't been until getting alpacas that I better know how to deal with grief.  Before, I wanted to avoid the feelings grief brings about.  It is painful and gut wrenching yet if it is avoided, it is prolonged and comes out usually in unhealthier ways.  I recall losing my first cria.  I was so devastated.  I didn't think I could do this business after that.  I sat in the pasture with Dulcinea, the mother, and bawled my eyes out.  I wanted to comfort her yet, it wasn't possible. I  was so lost in my sadness that I couldn't stop crying.  Then, I watched as Dulcie stood up and walked to me and she placed her forehead on mine and left it there for a few brief moments.  We shared our grief together and in that moment of shared pain of loss, I knew I wanted to keep doing this life.  It was such an amazingly intimate, genuine and special moment to share with my alpaca.  If I wasn't willing to accept the pain, then I'd miss all these incredibly special moments that are rare and a true gift.  And with each loss I have had (which have been thankfully been few), I have gained so much from witnessing how the alpacas have grieved and what they have offered me in these intimate moments.  They have been more real and genuine than what I experience with most humans and I wouldn't give those moments up for anything including avoiding the pain of losing them. 

For now, I try and learn and see if there is something I can do better next time, I allow myself to feel really sad, and because I have to still care for the animals that are still here alive and well, I get up and rake, haul hay, and fill up water bins and I treasure watching the cria romp and play and fill the farm with life again.  I also give myself a few extra moments to be with my special animals like Jamilah who is my best alpaca teacher.  Or I spend a few more minutes playing with my therapy dog, Harper who is so good at her job!  And, I have surrounded myself with great two-leggers who have come through and walked through the pain of loss right along with me.  If you want to be in this business, surround yourself with great friends.  You need ones that are willing to share in the laughter as well as the pain and I am so blessed to have some really special friends that do just that.  That is how I make it through the losses and hopefully, I'm a better person for it.

Weaver Kitty Such A Great Barn Kitty and Buddy

Rest In Peace Dandy

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