“I’ve been working on it all day,” says Bianca Vriend as she stands among her alpacas. “I used to have 43, now I have 40.” In recent weeks, the bluetongue virus has caused a lot of sadness and significantly less income at the alpaca farm in Schellinkhout. Because the care of the animals comes first. “Everything that is not necessary falls silent.”
Once the recordings are actually over, emotions take over for a while. Bianca Vriend from Schellinkhout fights back tears when it comes to bluetongue again. That damn virus that has controlled her life for over a month. “You are so powerless. You do everything you can and sometimes that is not enough. That is very frustrating.”
Half an hour earlier, the owner of alpaca farm Kitalpha Alpacas stands among 40 of her favorite animals. She had 43, but since the end of September she had to say goodbye to three copies. “The first died four hours after she started coughing. Then you think: what is going on here? But with the second it happened even faster. She died within an hour of the first symptoms. Euthanasia was actually no longer necessary “It happened that fast.”
Ointment and gauzes
Bianca says she doesn’t know how she survived the first weeks. “The stress level is very high. I couldn’t eat and went to the stable with heavy feelings.” She is on her guard, always. “It takes you all day long. Your heart skips a beat with every cough,” she says. Because in addition to the three deceased animals, three more became ill.
She also lost a sheep to bluetongue and is intensively caring for another sheep – recovering from the virus. “The knees broke. The top was completely gone, down to the bone. Now we put ointment and gauze on it every day. This is how we try to patch it up again.”
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Bianca Vriend is a busy jack of all trades. Because in addition to the animals, she also has her own spinning mill and a shop on the Dorpsweg in Schellinkhout. Here she sells clothing made from alpaca wool. The store is filled with sweaters, socks, cardigans, scarves and hats. All made from the ultra-soft wool. Only: during these intensive times this store is more closed than open. “If you spend all day caring for your animals, everything that is not necessary falls silent. And the store is not a necessity if you are trying to keep something or someone alive.”
She is disappointed with the situation, but can do little else. “This certainly saves income. To make matters worse, a Christmas market where we always stand will not take place. We also have a bed & breakfast and rent out two rooms. I let those bookings go ahead as much as possible. Because your guests plan their outing or I don’t want to take away our holidays, but also because we have to pay for groceries every week. Hopefully the bluetongue will be gone soon. That’s better for everyone.”