Tuesday, 28 September 2010
A Visit to Alpaca Acres
Our last visit of the day was to Alpaca Acres, home of Ann & Dan Clayburn. They were the one farm not producing food, although they did say that alpaca meat can be eaten. Theirs, as almost all in North America, are sold as pets and breeding stock, along with fibre products. Currently they have 22 huacaya alpacas on the farm.
The set up is the usual one with alpacas - the males are kept apart from the females and babies, to maintain the calm good temper for which alpacas are known.
Alpacas have a very long gestation period - just a couple of weeks shy of a year. The babies (crias) are nursed for six months. They weigh about 15 to 20 pounds at birth. As adults, the females will weigh 150 to 180 pounds; males may get up to as much as 200 pounds. Babies are always born in the day time.
Dan shows us one of babies. Their wool is extremely long, thick and soft. It contains no lanolin, so it is non-allergenic. Some people use alpacas as herd protectors with sheep, but they are not generally as good at the job as llamas.
The alpacas graze 8 acres of grass in the summer and are fed hay in the winter, along with mineral supplemented pellets. Their manure is rich and does not need to be composted before being used. I was impressed that the alpacas choose a communal toilet spot, and use no other. They are friendly, sociable animals - Alpaca Acres won't sell single animals unless there are already other alpacas at their new home - and they are very tough and problem free. Vet visits are a rarity.
Some of the ribbons won by Alpaca Acres alpacas at shows and fairs are displayed in the garage along with unspun wool, spun yarn, and finished yarn products, mostly crochet although they also sell some socks made in Peru from a mixture of alpaca and synthetic fibres.
Piles of yarn, rovings and finished garments for sale.
Little amigurumi sit in a suitcase waiting to find a home.