We were caught! If was official. This was serious! We were in big trouble!
Within one week, we were served with an official notice posted on our gate, an official, (not friendly) phone call, and an official notice in the mailbox. The word "official" was stamped in red on each document.
It was required that within two weeks, we were to meet with the City Council Authorities and the County Animal Control officers in a closed door conference.
The issue was that it had come to their attention that we were keeping exotic aka wild animals on our property. Exotic to me means lions, tigers, bears and other terrifying beasts.
Really? ... to live with Royal?!
We were new to this area having sold our "big" farm to now live on a little farm in an equestrian community. This official city stuff was all new to us.
We were required to prepare our case before the officials, who naturally wore smart uniforms and over sized badges.
We were pretty sure we knew what animals lived on our farm, since we had to feed them. But just to be sure, we made a thorough check of the barn, all turnouts, storage units, the hay barn and garage. We couldn't find one "exotic" animal, anywhere.
I had a small idea of what exactly might be alarming them, so I prepared my dissertation to present, knowing I was dealing with a major case of ignorance at City Hall.
So in hopes of winning my case, I contacted the State Department of Agriculture. I prefer going to the top dog in these departments and somehow managed to work my way up to their hiding places. After presenting my case, they sent official documents to me which were of great help.
Next I contacted the UC Davis Veterinary School. Soon more helpful documents arrived on my desk.
Finally, I spoke with the California Fish and Game who stated this issue was absurd and more stacks of documents arrived. I felt I was on my way. I felt prepared to face the uniforms and the badges.
But one thing seemed missing. That old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". I soon located exactly the photo that would bring them to their knees. (so to speak)
The day arrived and so did we. Dressed in my business suit of prior years and caring my tattered briefcase, I was ready.
We were seated at a long table. I took the "power position" at the end of the table. Hey, I'm fighting for my animals! The officials spoke first ... firmly informing us that we had a time limit to remove "these dangerous animals" from our property.
I quietly let each one have their say.
Finally, they referred to just what the animal it was they were concerned about. My premonition was right, plus, we were the only ones in the county to have these creatures on our farm.
At that moment, I opened my briefcase, took out the documents sent to me, which made a mighty stack on the table. I told them the source of this information. I asked if they would like for me to read the information to them. Of course, they didn't.
Therefore, I passed around copies to each for their records.
Then I asked:
- Do you know anything about these animals? NO
- Have you been around these animals? NO
- Have you ever seen one of these animals? NO
The ohhh's and ahhh's where heard around the room. I proceeded ... this is called an "Alpaca".
"They are not exotic, or wild animals. They are quiet, non-destructive, do no harm to the earth with their feet ... and are nature's peace lovers".
The case was closed. But not for me. This was a city issue. I requested to make a presentation at the following meeting of the full City Council in front of residents in attendance for other issues.
Prepared with my speech and brochures for all present, I spoke to the entire room about the advantages of having alpacas. Having raised alpacas for nearly 20 years, this was the best commercial presentation that ever fell into my hands.
Even though this all took place some years ago, the memory remains vivid in my mind.
Needless to say, we still have a few of our wild, exotic alpacas humming their way around our hillside. Sometimes, life is just too great!
However, there is a Chapter Two to the City Hall saga. Oh, yah!