When Jake Kanawaién:ton Cree decided to start an alpaca farm this summer, he intended to buy three animals. He ended up bringing home five including one who has become a family favourite.
Its name is Loki. Destined for the butcher’s block due to the poor fibre quality of its fleece, the alpaca’s situation tugged at Cree’s heartstrings.
“He’s albino, he’s deaf, and he’s adorable,” said Jake.
“He’s a curious loving little boy. He likes being petted. He likes to just come up and hang out with you.”
After deciding to take a break from his job as a teacher, Cree started the Skywatcher Alpaca Farm in August at his home in Kanesatake, a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community northwest of Montreal.
The cute camelids have caught a lot of attention in the community with many people patiently waiting for the farm to be open to visitors. It’s the goal Cree has for the future.
He wants to learn to turn their fleece into yarn and eventually open a shop for farmed goods, but for now he’s just enjoying the adventure with his new herd.
In addition to Loki, there’s Stanley, Delmar, Spike, and Thor — who Cree said hasn’t quite lived up to his name, being one of the shyest of the bunch. Felix, a four-year-old llama, is also a part of the farm. Each has his own personality and quirks, said Cree, but all enjoy grazing in the pasture and snacking on apple chunks.
“The way to an alpaca’s heart is through their stomachs,” he said.
Spike, who has become the defender of the herd, was also an unexpected addition to the family.
“I remember walking through the pasture trying to find one more to take home and he was way across the pasture and all of a sudden he looked up and stared right at me and I stared right back at him. That’s my boy!” said Cree.
“I named him after my dog who passed away two years ago. He’s like the guardian. He’ll watch over them. He sees something in the distance, he’ll warn the other guys.”
The alpacas’ sense of curiosity is what Cree enjoys the most about them.
“When we were building the shed, they were always staring at us, looking at the tools, checking out what we were doing. It’s just that curiosity that I love seeing in these animals,” he said.
“When you’re with them, it’s like you don’t really have a care in the world.”
But caring for alpacas hasn’t come without obstacles. Between finding proper fencing and an experienced vet, Cree said he’s ready for to face more challenges.
“They’re just fluffy cute little guys,” he said.
“For me to take them, I just want to give them the best life possible. I want to give more land to grow on and live a long life with me. I know it’s going to be a lot of work.”
While this is the first time that his family has owned alpacas, Cree grew up surrounded by animals. There’s been cats, dogs, cows, ponies, and chickens. John Anehwario Cree, Jake’s father, also grows corn, beans, and other vegetables every year. He said the alpacas are just the latest addition to the family’s long standing tradition of farming.
“It’s a part of our culture to raise animals,” said John Anehwario Cree.
“They’re curious. They’re fun. They have certain attitudes, the way they act and stuff like that. It’s nice having them around.”