Friday, September 12, 2008

Alpacas and Poetry

En route to the Fryeburg Fair, we made a visit to The New Millennium Alpaca Farm in Lancaster, New Hampshire. There we learned about the animals and the business of alpaca farming from some good neighbors who were taking care of business on the farm while the owners were otherwise occupied. While we've always thought they were "cute" animals, we had no idea of the values associated with the breeding, fiber production, and sales of the animals, so this was a real eye opener. The herd sire of the farm is "Jedi Knight." With a name like that, and a farm guarantee of ribbon winning results for other breeders who breed their quality females to this stud, how can you go wrong, Skywalker! While Alpaca prices and fees from stud service rate all over the place, we were surprised to learn that some of these "cute little critters" were worth 10's of thousands of dollars, and the web site linked above is, as of this writing, listing animals for sale from 750.00 to nearly 20,000.00 and that is not to say that some of the animals are not valued significantly higher.

With an 11 month gestation period, the young are born only once a year, and because this is New England, births are timed to fall into the time of the year when the young have a chance to grow an adequate coat to protect them from the cold through the winter. Apparently, exposure to cold climate (which the alpacas can handle without too much difficulty) is not a prerequisite for quality fiber, since they can be raised nearly anywhere and in any climate. Quality is more a function of breeding than of climate conditions. This little guy was the youngest in the herd at the time of our visit and he was wearing a little jacket to keep him warm when we arrived. It was a bit chilly for a new baby. Neighbor and fellow alpaca farmer Eric Rosseland of Harmony Grove Alpacas was kind enough to show us around the farm, fill us in on the basics and help us with the photo ops.

The farm had a range of different color animals and they seemed to get along quite well. Note the little one right smack dab in the middle of the feeding frenzy as the fresh bale of hay was dropped in the pen.

From the pastoral setting of the farm, to the quiet countryside home of one of the best known poets of all time: Robert Frost. While the official biography of Frost says he lived much of his time in Vermont and Massachusetts, he also had a homestead in New Hampshire and this is that "place."

The simple house sits in a small field surrounded by mountains and forest land. Pathways cut into the field and wood lead the visitor around the property to wooden plaques of some of his most noteworthy poetry which have been posted for your contemplation. On our visit, the old cellar doors stood open and inviting as though the poet himself were present- and in a way, I suppose that is the truth as the home is inhabited by a resident poet, although it most assuredly is not Frost, who" slipped the surly bonds of earth" as Reagan once said of the shuttle astronauts, in 1963.

Above, one of the paths around the property and below, one of my favorite verses, although not my most favorite.If you have the time, read The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost, posted below for your consideration. In a world filled with sameness, we value the "less traveled road" but often live our lives in such fear as renders us unable to travel it. I hope I can in some small measure wind up at the end of my road never wishing I had traveled in a different direction. The choices are many and consequences impending. And we shall not know where we arrive until the end of the journey.

Here, then, is my Favorite Frost poem:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

1 comment:

sarah om said...

Hi Greg--

Loved your post about Robert Frost, and especially your comments about the poem--they made me tear up.

Hope you are both well and enjoying being back in the states.