Reine-Aimée Nadon loves her alpacas, but it’s time to downsize, to reduce her herd. Because of her age and a recent surgery, which has reduced her physical abilities, Reine-Aimée is making a choice to concentrate strategically on a smaller, improved herd.
She describes how she worked at Theoret Bourgeois Funeral Home for 12 years, and after her husband Michel “Mike” Nadon passed away in 2016 she gradually decreased her hours. Now she intends to devote all of her time and strength to her alpacas. “The animals are very good to me …two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon,” but, “I’m not a young chick anymore!” At 69, she still brims over with enthusiasm for these delightful creatures that have been with her throughout her trials.
Reine-Aimée and her husband Mike started alpaca farming in 2010. She had retired from banking and took the part-time job at Theoret-Bourgeois Funeral Home. “My husband was contemplating retiring, and we’d always been animal lovers.” In 1999 the Nadons bought a farm on Thibeault Road, Sturgeon Falls, and stocked sheep and llamas. “I was up to 6 llamas for awhile. It started with a guard animal for the sheep, then I bought some females, and we got little ones… But then we decided we would concentrate on alpacas, because as much as I love my animals, the end product is that you’re going to kill that animal to get revenue out of it.”
Reine-Aimée doesn’t like killing animals. She was raised on a dairy farm so, as she says, “It was always in me, that flame [to farm] was in me – but I want to save the animals! Alpacas were the dream animal. We had purchased one not knowing anything about them.” She says of that choice, “Llamas are more a guard animal for the others, usually the alpacas. They are in the same family but bigger. The thing is when you get to sheering time, they are big!” So they sold the llamas and concentrated on alpacas. “We got a new barn, things were going really well, we bought 18 [alpacas] in one lot. They were from Arnprior – a young couple changing their minds, wanting to travel and do things. Farming is not for everyone, you’re tied 365 days a year.”
What is it about alpacas? Reine-Aimée’s voice holds loving laughter as she asserts, “They are so sweet! Their eyes, they are so precious, big eyelashes. To me, they seem to be looking into my soul. They are reasonable sized animals for me. I’ve been by myself for four years and I can take care of them.” At one time she was up to 65 animals, and currently has 55 animals.