Guest Post by James Cave
There’s no doubt that alpacas are pretty much the coolest animals around. If you’re thinking about going into the alpaca farming business but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, a good way to get experience (and get to know these awesome creatures) is taking on some volunteer work on an alpaca farm.
Easier said than done, you may think, but there are plenty of alpaca farmers looking for people to help them out. You just have to know where to look.
Nothing to do with dogs, and everything to do with alpacas; WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms. Sites to look at are WWOOF International and WorkAway. These sites cover all the bases: from fruit picking in Australia to livestock herding in Europe.
Sites that offer WWOOFing opportunities are often the first port of call for alpaca farmers who are looking for volunteers because they know they’ll find people who are looking for farm based work, usually in exchange for accommodation.
You can find volunteer work on alpaca farms all year round; sometimes you may even find exciting opportunities abroad, giving you the chance to travel too.
Another slightly off the wall place to look is on house sitting websites. I’m speaking from experience, as last year I found a fairly small alpaca farm sit in the French Pyrenees. You may think you need experience for these “house sits”, but the term is misleading; usually the farmers will have set aside a few weeks to train you in running the farm and caring for the animals. It is their livelihood, after all.
I took on the sit with my partner, and we were provided with an intense three week training course. All the bases were covered, from alpaca nutrition to medical care. The result was a wonderful month learning about and caring for a herd of 18 alpacas, while picking up some much valued experience.
Since then I’ve seen more alpaca farm sits appearing on Trusted Housesitters, in countries as diverse as France and New Zealand. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the main house sit listing page to make sure you don’t miss out; I keep the box ticked for ‘farm animals’ to make it even easier to spot an alpaca farm sit when one does appear.
Call Farms Directly
The last idea will take a little bit of confidence. The old school way to find a volunteer opportunity is to call alpaca farms in your local area and ask. It may be that they’re not looking for volunteers, but they might be able to pass you details of a farmer they know who is.
Another way to get in touch with alpaca farmers is via their own websites. Some will mention whether or not they’re looking for volunteers, so you don’t need to be shy about sending an email or making a phone call.
Thanks for stopping by James! Lots of alpaca farmers could use some help. ~Katy