Seduce: to win over; attract

Yarn seduces me with her siren call. "Pick me! Pick me!" I am hopelessly enchanted by yarn and am delighted by the endless choices.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Visit to the Farm

... an Alpaca Farm!
The SA Knifty Knitters monthly meeting was a visit to a local Alpaca Farm.

After a warm welcome from our hostess Vanessa, we wandered down to meet the girls. We were invited to hand feed them. They love having a treat and some of the girls get pushy, lol.
Alpacas eat grass which they prefer over grass hay and get a grain supplement.

While we were feeding them, Vanessa explained alpacas are camelid-cousins to camels, llamas, guanacos, and vicunas. Of the camelid species, the alpaca and the vicuna are the most valuable fiber bearing animal. Alpacas are thought to be descendants of the vicuna.

We also learned there are two types of alpaca:
Huacaya, the teddy bear alpaca. They have a crimped and very dense fleece.
Suri, the alpaca with dreadlocks. The Suri are very rare.

She then showed us how warm the bodies are with all that fleece they have now by spreading their fleece apart and having us feel the body. They are shorn once a year, usually in the spring.

After visiting with "the girls," we walked over to meet "Willie and the boys"
(no, I don't know which one is Willie but we can ask Vanessa. She has named all the boys after country singers)

After visiting with "the boys," Vanessa showed us some of the fleeces and the next steps in processing the fiber (more on that tomorrow)

It was a very educational trip, a lovely day, and wonderful visit with the friendly alpacas.

Ten things I learned about alpacas after our visit:
1. Keep the females and males separated
2. They cannot be artificially inseminated, they ovulate when they are bred
3. They have one baby a year, gestation is about 11 months
4. They have a life span of about 15-20 years
5. They have three stomachs and chew their cud similar to a cow
6. They have communal dung piles
7. They like to roll in the grass and dirt but their fleece isn't all that dirty
8. Their fleece has no lanolin and can grow from 3-5 inches
9. How hot their bodies get just before sheering time because of how long their fleece gets
10. They have no top teeth. (I know this first hand because I did hold some grain for them to eat)

(Did I mention how much I love to knit with alpaca?! It is one of my favorite fibers. And when blended with silk... heavenly!!)

Thank you Vanessa for taking the time to show us your alpacas!


Wendy said...

That looks like so much fun! Did you get any souvenirs from the farm?

Pom Pom said...

Oh my goodness! I want to hug one around the neck! They have the cutest faces. We have an alpaca farm around here. I've heard about it but never been. I must go!

CollectIn Texas Gal said...

Wow...a field trip! Did you get to shear a bit...then you could spin alot...then you could teach me to spin. Nice pictures....looked like lots of fun.

SusanB-knits said...

No, we didn't get any souvenirs, no we didn't do any sheering... lol. It was fun just to see and touch the animals. And to learn about them!