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Saying Goodbye to Grandma Amber

In 2019 our insurance agent reached out to us and asked if we could assist a widow named Angela. Angela has recently lost her husband and she needed help taking care of the alpaca herd he left behind.

My husband and I drove up to meet Angela and her alpacas shortly after. I remember it being cold and snowy, but an even stronger memory is the conversation my husband and I had on our hour drive to Angela’s house. We were relatively new alpaca owners and we had no idea what to expect on this little adventure.

When we arrived at Angela’s house she was waiting for us with cookies and a friend to assist. Angela was grieving the loss of her husband, she was trying to manage a herd of alpacas, and she was doing both while working full-time with a ton of other responsibilities. And yet she still found time to bake cookies to thank us for helping. We immediately knew Angela was a pretty awesome person and we needed to do what we could to help her.

Over the next few months, we would help Angela with medical care of the herd like toe trimming and monthly shots. Each time we would visit we could see how much Angela loved these alpacas and how much Angela was exhausted trying to keep up with life swirling around her. We finally convinced Angela to let us rehome the alpacas for her, and once she did, we set about finding good homes for everyone.

Well, everyone except for Grandma Amber.

Grandma Amber was old, needed a coat to make it through winter, and was going to need extra TLC for her remaining years. Rehoming her wasn’t going to be a suitable option so we adopted her into our herd.

Old Amber had a unique personality and we immediately fell in love with her because she was a mix of friendly, calm, sassy, and a big old spoonful of quirky.

Amber became a favorite of farm visitors. More than anything, I think it was because Amber always did what Amber wanted. She’d hog fans, pools, and the feeding bowl – while doing so with grace and wisdom. She was a frequent wearer of hay on her head, and may at times, she’d have a lovely foam coming out her mouth. During farm tours, she’d slobber all over visitors while they fed her, which always provided entertainment and a good laugh.

We loved Amber for every ounce of her spunk and sweetness.

But that isn’t what was most special about Amber. She was smart. I always say alpacas are intelligent, but Amber was at the top of this intelligence curve. And she had a memory like no other.

Amber was born in 2003 at Big Willow in Mesick and her original owners were Don and Mary Jane Weiber. Big Willow was a well-known farm back in the day and they were well respected in the local community and the alpaca industry. A year or so back Mary Jane visited our farm, and my husband was so excited to meet her and tell her that Amber was on our farm living out her golden years. Mary Jane asked to see her and when they walked into our ladies’ barn and Mary Jane said her name, Amber jumped up and rushed to her. Almost twenty years had passed since Amber was born on Mary Jane’s farm, and yet, no time had passed for her. She knew Mary Jane and knew she loved her.

Flash forward to the last few months and Grandma Amber was now approaching her twenty-first birthday. She had slowed significantly and was starting to have more and more bad days. We knew she was living on grace and we knew our time with her was ending. We pledged to make sure she was comfortable and we did what we could to keep that promise. From keeping her wrapped up in a horse coat to making sure she was tucked up in the heated barn on cold nights, we made sure Amber was as comfortable as possible.

Today was a day when it was obvious our time with sweet old Amber had come to an end. During our morning coffee, my husband and I both watched the barn cameras to monitor her movement and activity. And we knew today was the day. I headed out to sit with her while my husband prepped for what he knew was coming. And then we said goodbye.

We are thankful to Mary Jane for creating such a beautiful soul and we are thankful to Angela for trusting us to care for Amber in her later years. Amber blessed our lives and we know she blessed the lives of all those who visited our farm and met her during tours.

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