Check It Out: Chance alpaca encounter weaves into list

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Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Reno, Nev., where we attended the National Championship Reno Air Races. This is an annual event, and we have been enthusiastic spectators for many years. For anyone who has an interest in aviation — and enjoys watching fast motor sports — the Reno Air Races are not to be missed.

In case you sense an aviation-themed column about to enfold, brace yourself, I’m about to make a course reversal (yep, that’s pilot talk). As my husband and I were making our way back home from Reno, we drove through Terrebonne, Ore. If you’re not familiar with Terrebonne, it’s located just north of Redmond, Ore., on U.S. Route 97. As we neared Terrebonne, my hubby mentioned we would be driving by an alpaca farm, and incidentally, the farm had a small store and allowed visitors to mingle with the alpacas. Wait, what?? Driving by? One look at my face and my beloved knew that we would be making an unscheduled stop at the alpaca farm.

The Crescent Moon Ranch, described by its owners as “Oregon’s Premier Alpaca Destination,” left this alpaca fan feeling all warm and fuzzy. Coincidentally (or not) alpacas are warm and fuzzy, too. The Crescent Moon Boutique had plenty of alpaca-oriented things to hold and wear, and I have to say that I was completely surprised at the softness of the wool. Several purchases later, we headed outside to wander among the alpacas. We were told that one of the alpaca mamas had just given birth on Saturday and to look out for a baby wearing a bell. A bell? On an alpaca? Yes, her mother is partially blind, and the bell helps the new mom to know where her baby is. Awww. It didn’t take long for us to spot a fuzzy, dark brown cria (the term for a baby alpaca) cushed next to her mom (when an alpaca is ‘cushing’ it’s sitting on the ground with all four legs tucked underneath). Learning new words? Awesome sauce! Looking at a three-day-old baby alpaca? Adorable sauce! All warm and melty inside, I took a few photographs, said goodbye to our charming companions, and we continued our journey home. Aviation and alpacas in one trip? Priceless.

For all the alpaca and llama lovers reading this column, please take a moment to peruse the following list of reading suggestions. Included are titles written for wee-sized camelid admirers (but delightful reading for all ages); guides for raising your very own alpacas and/or llamas; a knitting instruction book using “natural fibers from alpaca to yak” (yak? Yikes!); and a pet photography manual that happily includes tips for capturing photographic memories of the family alpaca and llama. Llotta llove going on.

• “Alpaca Keeping: Raising Alpacas — Step by Step Guide Book: Farming, Care, Diet, Health and Breeding,” by Harry Fields.

• “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat,” by Anna Dewdney.

• “Maria Had a Little Llama = Maria Tenia una Llamita,” by Angela Dominguez.

• “The Natural Knitter: How to Choose, Use, and Knit Natural Fibers from Alpaca to Yak,” by Barbara Albright.

• “Pet Photography for Fun: Let’s Have Fun Photographing Dogs, Cats, Horses, Alpacas, Llamas and Everything Else!” by Susan Ley.

• “Rojo: The Perfectly Imperfect Llama,” by Shannon Joy.

• “Storey’s Guide to Raising Llamas,” by Gale Birutta.