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Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca? Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
When Alan proposes that they move to Spain and raise Alpacas, I laughed out loud! I suspect if they had waited until it all made sense, they would never have made the move, and that would have been unfortunate for them, and for those of us who are privileged to follow their story.
Many chapters start with the current animal count on their farm and I smiled each time as the collection increased. It seems that in Spain a soft hearted person will never lack for dogs or cats as strays are abundant. But the project of learning to breed and raise Alpacas is the most entertaining. The sorrow of losing several of the babies was heartbreaking, but the joy of those who thrive seems to make it all worth it. I loved the scene when Rafa got the bucket stuck on his head and Alan ended up covered in green slimy spit from Rafa's mom doing her best to protect her baby from Alan's rescue efforts.
Alan has done a nice job of sharing their lives without making it overly romantic, or desperate. His honesty in showing the trials as well as the joys keeps the reader from believing they could just pick up and make the same move. But for the truly adventurous, it all seems wonderful!
I enjoyed the neighbors and their willingness to step in and help, and to include Alan and Lorna in social events. Even though Alan and Lorna arrived with very little Spanish language, the neighbors still accepted them, and having that connection proved crucial to surviving.
The paragraphs at the end of chapters that were written from the perspective of the various animals was also a clever touch that truly added to the story.
All in all a great read especially for anyone who has ever thought of stepping off of the tread mill of life and into a simpler time. I look forward to the sequel!
Everything they do is just brainless. First believing that an alpaca that sold for a half million dollars wasn't a set up is idiotic. The breeders in any species hold an auction and work out in advance that no money for a high dollar bid will be exchanged. So the first animal goes for an unheard of record, and then the auctioneer can claim that all his progeny, siblings, half siblings, and other stock from those breeders should be worth as much. This high dollar animal also helps out the average price per animal for this auction. Then the auctions that follow may inflate the price for all the crappy animals breeders want unload on unsuspecting city dwellers who feel like they found the deal of the century.
I am so glad this book was free, I would feel like an idiot if I had purchased it. Add to their stupidity about the industry, not not how crucial fencing is, not knowing the native language for the vet, not knowing farmers don't name their livestock 'Santa' on breeding registration certificates, not knowing that one dog on any farm is more than enough is just an insult to real farmers and ranchers in any country.
It seemed like they were totally awash and helpless for the first two books. In 4 years of living there, they still didn't have a grasp of the language, their experience with the Alpacas only seemed minimally increased, too.
There just seemed to me that there was not a lot of common sense used on their part in raising the animals or living in a new country. They had access to the internet to either take online classes to learn the language or order books , cassettes or discs for instruction, as well as networking with a larger group of others - not just the ones met in the parties they went to - to get more ideas on what it's like living in that part of the world as an ex-pat and for more information on coping. The same for caring for the animals and getting questions answered on several problems.
My irritation probably arises from comparing our moving to a rural area from an urban area, starting with horses and building up to raising cattle, sheep, goats, pigs & chickens and how we coped the first couple of years with the 'city time vs country time' syndrome - it isn't just Spain, let me tell you! - with learning how to take care and do a lot of our own vet work, too. No language issues, but no internet either in 1984. We bought books, we talked with the vet and took all the classes we had access to at the local college (24 miles away). They didn't have a local college, but they did have internet.
They were very courageous for stepping out of the box and going for the new life. Many kudos to them for that. I just wish they had taken more use of the resources available to them and made an effort to learn the language and more about the care and feeding of the livestock.
Could be me, but I would have done a bit more research, joined an association, volunteered somewhere and tried out alpaca farming first hand before I did such a thing. So many places in the book you start going, "Duh, that's what you get." But then they admit this themselves so you can't really get too judgemental about it.