The most hilarious and fun activity we did during our Martha’s Vineyard vacation had nothing to do with a beach, or a seafood stall, nor anything you would even remotely associate with a New England island. No… the best activity of all was visiting an ALPACA FARM!
When a friend told me to track down “Island Alpaca” on the Vineyard, I thought she was pulling my leg. One associates alpacas with South America, not a random island in Massachusetts!
But I typed “Alpaca” into my smartphone map search, and sure enough, directions popped right up. We were guided to the center of Martha’s Vineyard, just minutes from our Edgartown hotel and the Oak Bluffs Gingerbread houses.
In the first of many lovely surprises in alpaca land, entrance was just a suggested donation of $5 in an honor system box. What enjoyment I got for that measly $5! Upon entering the farm, we observed two outdoor yards for the alpacas, and one giant indoor barn.
A farm worker greeted us and said we could feel free to caress the alpacas. The majestic beasts would have their summer shearing that Saturday, so we lucked out in encountering them in their maximal fluffiness. They were heaven to touch!
But what did our baby think of the alpacas? Well, he just stared. No cries, no smiles, just hypnotized staring. The alpacas stared back, chewing their hay reflectively. Would love grow between these adorable mammals by the end of our visit? Only time would tell.
The hairstyles of the alpacas varied widely, from afro puffs to spiked punk attitude. I wanted to climb on the back of every alpaca and bury my face deep in their fur! (I suppose buying out the gift shop’s alpaca wool clothing would have been the next best thing. To learn more about key alpaca vs. llama differences, click.)
Once I calmed down from giggling at the alpacas themselves, I began to read the alpaca sales signs around the farm, and commenced laughing again. Allow me to excerpt some of these informational signs for you.
One sign entitled, “The Alpaca Advantage: Pet Quality” declared the following: “Companionship, great entertainers, and a wonderful lifestyle… and the most quiet and environmentally friendly lawnmowers!
Alpacas give you terrific fleece that you can process into beautiful yarn for friends and family. They will leave “behind” the most fabulous fertilizer for you! They will also provide specific tax advantages as a fiber producer.” Oooo! Alluring reasons! And quality poop pun.
I began to yearn to own an alpaca. However, my husband and baby, ever thrifty, were not convinced. It was then that I saw a second sign with the heading, “Is it OK to own just one alpaca?”
Breathlessly, I read the answer, and my heart sank. “Generally, no. Alpacas have very strong herd instincts and need the companionship of at least one other alpaca to thrive.”
Oh my! I wanted my alpaca (if I owned one) to thrive! But at over $2,000 a pop, a two-alpaca-purchase would be pushing it. Just then, the farm worker hollered, “Rodrigo! Come here and meet the visitors!”
A snowball-fluffy alpaca bounded out of the shed to get a loving rubdown. “They respond when called by name?!” I gasped, awed. “Just a few of them,” replied the lady. Sigh… I will probably never have the big bucks to own an alpaca (or rather, two), but my love for the beasts expanded yet again.
As we headed back to our car, I smiled at the “Alpaca-Lover Parking” sign marking our spot. “That’s me!” I sang as we piled into the seats. Our baby raised his eyebrows, paused, then gave us a grin. Another alpaca lover was born!
Postscript: Several years later we discovered an alpaca farm in Western Massachusetts. Highly recommend all forms of alpaca love. The more fluffy fur, the better.
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The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!