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This year's National Alpaca Day, on Sunday, May 4, gave people the chance to visit alpaca farms, handle the animals and see what could be done with their fibre.
One of the farms that enjoyed hosting newcomers was Otaio Bridge Alpacas, owned by Ineke and Jacob van Neuren. They had plenty of cria (baby alpacas) on hand to boost the cuteness quotient.
''What a great day we had on Sunday,'' Mrs van Neuren said last week.
''The open day was a roaring success. People kept on coming and everyone had a great time - a real alpaca party!''We had three helpers and with the five of us we were kept busy all the time, talking alpaca, explaining fibre, cuddling cria, teaching felting, talking more alpaca.
''We lost track of the number of photos taken. And many fell in love with alpacas, as we all do.''
Mrs van Neuren said the day ended with an unexpected event.
''When everyone had gone and most things were tidied away, we finished the day with a new cria.
''One of our agisted girls had given birth late on a cold afternoon to a prem girl. Obviously she hadn't read the manual.
''So instead of putting our feet up, we nursed her through the night. Well worthwhile, she is doing fine.''
The van Neurens were happy to arrange another visit for those wanting to know more, or a first visit for anyone who could not get there on the open day.
''As you may have noticed, we are passionate about alpacas and love talking about them and their fibre,'' Mrs van Neuren said.
- by Sally Brooker