Monday, 17 December 2012

Alpaca time!!!



In the middle of the vineyards in the countryside of Western Germany, there sits a little farm complete with thirty alpacas.  How they got there; who knows?  Somehow I got lucky and got to spend five weeks working with them!



When I first signed up to the Workaway website, I got pretty obsessed, sent out way too many messages and got way too many replies.  Staying on the Ashton's farm in France for so long made all my travel plans change, so I arrived at the alpaca farm in Altenbamberg around four months later than originally planned!





Julie

Billie


Billie and her daughter Julie owned the farm, but didn't always have enough time to look after the alpacas themselves.








So that's where we came in:
John and Steven, a couple from the USA.  They had moved to Germany to find work teaching English, however it didn't quite work out as planned and they were left with no money and an expiring visa.  Billie took pity on them and said they could stay as long as they needed.
Amy, from New Zealand, came a couple of weeks later and fitted in perfectly... even with that funny accent.



Our jobs for the day were to let the alpacas into their fields, feed and give them water, and then clean out the stables ready for them coming back inside in the evening.  Sometimes we would just stare at them for half an hour or so... they were fascinating creatures, totally timid and freaked out like crazy if you tried to touch them.


Me feeding Purple Percy!
Purple Percy was different though.  Being purple in the alpaca world is like being ginger in the human world.  You're an outsider... so you turn to others who show you kindness.  In this instance it meant Percy wasn't so afraid of us.
<<< Evidence is in this picture!

Other jobs we did included cutting down thousands of bramble bushes (and a few rose bushes by accident), stacking hundreds of logs for the fire, and taking the dogs Mellow and Petu on walks (which was pretty impossible when they walked at completely different paces)!


Just to add to our workload, we asked at the local vineyard for a job picking grapes. Of course, the answer was yes and so for about two weeks we were working more or less ten hours per day. A group of Polish people were shipped over to do the work too, which means that wages were low, and it didn't help that there is no minimum wage in Germany! 6.50 euros per hour. The bad back at the end of every day made the money seem even less. But this feeling was countacted when the grape lady would give us a couple bottles of wine at the end of some nights; we would head to the top of the hills and sit down, bottle in hand, discussing the world and watching the distant wind turbines turn round and round. Beautiful!


At the Medieval Fest


At the farm; we were often treated to some kind of party. Germans like to call them "fests".... whether it be Hof Fest, or Medieval Fest, or Let's-have-a-BBQ-and-call-it-a-fest Fest. Mainly they involved lots of beer drinking, sausage eating, music, dogs or horses or any kind of animal jumping around, and on the odd occasion a bongo drum playing session!






I stayed at the farm for a total of around five weeks before moving on. I wish I could write more here about my time there, but I just don't have enough time on the internet anymore, and I'm getting so far behind on my blog posts! All I will say is that Billie and Julie were incredibly kind and fun to be around; and I made some lasting friendships with John, Steven, and Amy... so my experience is definitely one I will never forget!