Monthly Archives: October 2017

What I love about Alpacas

Directed Interdisciplinary Study I:

Studio Assignment 1: What I love about Alpacas
A stop motion puppet and poem about fibre farming

“Alpacas are the greatest”
is a thought I have had
while up late at night watching fun videos on YouTube
or when a great meme pops up on facebook.
They have sweet faces, and kind eyes
and are just a little bit weird.

I love alpacas,

I told my partner Keith one day
as we sat in Parc Laurier
sipping soy cappuccinos
and watching the world go by.

One day, lets have an Alpaca farm.
It made perfect sense, we agreed
for a fibre artist to have alpacas on a farm
and a farm seemed like a very nice
far away idea
from our apartment in the Plateau.

So when we moved too the country, perhaps
It is not very surprising
that we stopped by the side of the highway that one day
we drove past an alpaca farm

as moderately socially awkward city transplants
What was surprising is that we went right on up to the farmhouse door
to ask how we could help.

Alpacas are the greatest.
I love Alpacas – these were thoughts
based entirely on the way an Alpaca looks
or how soft its wool feels
thoughts based on the commodity, not the animal

One year later, here’s what I love about alpacas
Their ridiculous haircuts
That they don’t know how ridiculous they look
the heir on their back is called a blanket
they are tidy – will only poop in one part of the pen
You can use it for excellent fertilizer
They are gentle, kind
Alpacas are quiet, like deer
Their hairs are full of secrets
They don’t like strangers, and neither do I
They spit and kick, alpacas are not to be trifled with
they are sweet to each other
they are soft and furry

Here’s what I don’t like about alpacas:

they spit and kick – forget what i said before and get out of the way
They belong on mountains so you have to trim their toenails, and they’re supposed to gnaw on rocks so you have to sand their teeth with a dremmel.
Nobody tells you about the dremmel
They bums have poo dreads on them
You have to do all kind of crazy stuff like lance boils and give inoculations – things you would assume a vet MUST do, but no, that’s what farmers are up to in the barn
Coyotes want to eat them
But they’re still too big for one person to pick up
Loud noises scare them
They don’t like to be sheared

In conclusion – farming isn’t always quite what a city girl thinks it will be.
And standing in a barn in early may, freezing cold and wet and covered in hay and mostly digested grass spit

There is nothing I would like more

Than a soy cappuccino.

Sosuke the Duck (Script)

Sosuke was the smallest
of the 20 Indian Runner Ducklings

Their first night home Keith and I and the dog stare into the brooder, transfixed as they scurry

That’s when we notice he is limping

Did he get trampled by the others?
Had we handled him too rough?

I am afraid
but Keith cradles hits little body
heart fluttering against the palm of his hand
As soaks his leg in a warm epsom salt
bath in a soup bowl.

all life needs love

Keith says to me

and I vow to take the best care of him
because he is small and fluffy and yellow
but also because it scares me.

We separate him from the others,
but by morning he has hopped
on his good leg over the cardboard wall
to be with his friends

an avian vet is hard to come by
Sosuke is so small they take his XRays in
A machine meant for cats dental treatments

The next days are spent in the bathroom
For physio he swims in the tub

I treat him to peas, watermelon
and extra worms from the garden

at night i give him a clean beach towel
clap mosquitos out of the air
And sing him Beatles songs until he falls asleep.

The ducklings grow faster every day
Sosuke doesn’t grow as fast, but he does grow fonder.  learns his name.
And has one chirp he only uses for me

and while he can’t play in the garden
with the other ducklings
I give him a pool of water in the yard
and fashion a sort of swing so the can stand with the flock

Every day I work on engineering a wheelchair so he can one day roam the lawn
on his own

he loves to swim in the pond, splashing and diving for slugs

in the water his friends can’t tell he’s different
don’t pick on him

he’s just a duck eating bugs

When i pick him up
he flaps his wings
like he’s flying

one night there is a thunderstorm that knocks out our power

i spend the night in a sleeping bag on the barn floor wrapping the brooder in blankets and bringing him hot water bottles to stay warm

he doesn’t get better, though

we hear from the specialist that it’s perosis
a slipped tendon
his leg bends the wrong way
it’s congenital
he’ll never walk

but I don’t mind.

in the winter he’ll live in the house where it’s warm
in his little wheelchair we’ll visit the children’s hospital
a great therapy animal

life on the farm is exhausting
but joyful
the chores distract me from my
ruminating thoughts
and at the pond each day
among the bullrushes and lilies
Sosuke and I find peace

One day in august I come back from the city
and he’s sitting in his soft grass,
he isn’t moving his good leg anymore.

i sing him to sleep that night

in the morning we visit the pond one last time
before going to the vet

and that’s it

a lifetime in two months to the day

I drive home, with Keith in the passenger seat
holding his little body
in a cardboard box

we find a place in the pine forest
Where the light shines just so

our strength is not the body we are born in
but our zest for each moment we are given

There will be many animals on our farm
And many I’m sure will pass on

but none will I love as deeply, or remember as fondly
as Sosuke, my little runner duck who couldn’t.

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.


– Lord Byron