Alpacas in Winter

Alpaca fiber is oh, so, so warm and socks, hats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters made from alpaca, are the best!  Alpacas have their fiber to keep them warm, and honestly they mind the heat much more than the cold. However, there are times and conditions when our alpacas appreciate a little help keeping warm.

Alpacas in Winter

Our rule of thumb is that we close the alpacas in the barn, when we hit single digit temperatures.  Even alpacas appreciate being able to get out of cold, harsh winds and pelting rain or snow.  We line the inside walls of their shelter with bales of straw, stacked three or four high, to cut down on the drafts as well as have handy for layering on top of the manure.  Other than the cold and the snow, alpaca care is actually a little easier in the winter because we don’t clean up the manure in the barn.  Rather we spread straw on top of the manure.  Heat is generated from the lower layers of composting manure and straw.

Alpacas in Winter

Feed ahead of the weather.  In winter, we always have plenty of hay available and when it is cold, our alpacas easily eat twice as much.  They seem to know when a change in the weather is coming.

Alpacas in Winter

Older alpacas and little ones can have trouble staying warm.  There actually is Winter Wear which can help immensely especially if an alpaca is sick or compromised in some way.

Alpacas in Winter

Below are some tips written by Ben Fisco of Humminghill Suri Alpaca Farm on “Raising Alpacas in Harsh Winter Climates”.  Read the entire article here.

  1. Breed for spring and autumn births.
  2. Use layered, thick, dry bedding in sheds and barn.
  3. Bring alpacas inside in extreme cold and when they are wet dry them off before sending them back to the pasture.
  4. Use a flame and fan-free heating system when heat is used.
  5. Avoid drafts.
  6. Provide good drainage.
  7. Provide good ventilation and air circulation in all barns year round.
  8. Clear pastures of snow in areas large enough to provide exercise.
  9. For cria hypothermia, place cria in a plastic water-tight bag in warm water up to, but not including, the head.
  10. Use heated water buckets.
  11. Use cria coats and coats for adults when you see them shiver.  Use common sense.
  12. Feed large volumes of high quality hay in cold weather.

Alpacas in Winter

Several other helpful articles:

Can It Get Any Colder?
Tips On Raising Suris in Cold Weather

This Must Be A First: Alpacas Blessed In Nation’s Capital

Here’s something you don’t see every day in Washington, D.C.

Standing just a couple of blocks from the U.S. Capitol, a group of Peruvian highlanders, draped in handwoven cloths and ponchos in all the colors of the rainbow, pray to Mother Earth, to the mountains, to the spirit of their ancestors. They offer wine, incense and flowers.
Their wish is that their alpaca “cover the earth like the grains of sand by the ocean.”

Blessing of the Alpacas - Alpaca News

Alpacas, in case you don’t know, are llama-like animals in the camel family. Their wool — called fiber — is prized for its softness and warmth. It’s woven into textiles and garments. So the more alpacas, the better. That’s why Peruvians hold a traditional blessing ceremony, performed since before Columbus discovered the New World and re-created at the national mall last Friday for the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

The Peruvians kneel in front of the alpacas’ pen to prepare their offering. Behind them, six alpacas, on loan from Sugarloaf Alpacas in Maryland, stand nervously. It’s apparent they’ve never been blessed before.
A weaver named Timoteo, from the village of Chinchero, leads the ceremony. As he speaks, a translator echoes his words.

“Lightning storms, please, I supplicate you with this offering. Please be gentle with us, support us and allow our animals to be fruitful and multiply, don’t be harsh.”

Before the ceremony began, I spoke with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, a traditional weaver. Callañaupa is a cofounder of the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco, a nonprofit formed to preserve the art of weaving. As we talk, her hands never stop moving as she spins alpaca fiber into yarn.

The alpaca ceremony, Callañaupa explains, takes place once a year during their rainy season, which in Peru lasts from November through April. The people ask Mother Earth — Pachamama in the Quechua language — and the spirits to look out for their animals.

“Spirit of our ancestors, angels that protect us, please take care of us. We offer to you this blessing.”

Alpacas are native to South America, where they are sometimes raised for meat (which is low in calories, fat, and cholesterol) but are primarily prized for their fleece, which grows naturally in over twenty colors. Alpaca fiber is not only soft, Callañaupa says, but warmer and finer than sheep’s wool.

Ann Rowe, a researcher at the George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum in D.C., says these attractive properties of alpaca fiber are due to its structure. “Alpaca is softer than wool because [the shaft of each fiber] has fewer surface scales,” she says. “It is warmer because many of the fibers have a hollow core.”

It also costs more than wool, Callañaupa says, an advantage for the farmer. Peru is reportedly home to 3.6 million alpacas — that’s most of the world’s population and produces 80 percent of the world’s alpaca fleece. Those exports, however, are managed by large fiber mills.

“The export industry is an entirely different thing than local use of alpacas” for textiles, says Rowe.

“Let the alpaca be as strong as can be because their bones are like steel. The mountains should run with alpacas like grains of sand, and their caretakers should be so overjoyed that their eyes run with tears.”

It’s a long road from animal to textile. It starts, Callañaupa says, with shearing the animals, which is done every year or two (in warmer climates, annual shearing is more common).

Next, the fiber is spun by hand into yarn on a traditional drop spindle — a wooden spike that is weighted at one end. The spinner fixes the fiber to the spike, then pulls and twists the fiber while holding the spindle between the legs. When the twisted fiber reaches a certain length, the spindle is dropped toward the floor, and its weight makes it rotate, twisting it into yarn.

The finished yarn is washed and can be dyed. The Cusco weavers use natural dyes made from leaves, flowers and insects.

When the yarn is ready, artisans use a Backstrap Loom to weave bright, intricate textiles. Each community, Callañaupa explains, has its own designs and style of weaving. “It’s part of our identity,” she says.

“Let there be a great abundance of alpacas, so that the alpacas should be like the condor and appear to fly from one mountain to another, and let them come in all the beautiful colors.”

People sell their woven textiles. If they have a lot of alpaca, they’ll sell the actual fiber as well. Callañaupa says that in many of these villages, raising alpaca is the basis for the economy. “In high altitudes where the alpacas are kept, there is not agriculture,” she says. “So all the food will come through [sale of the] fiber.”

Is it enough to make a living?

She doesn’t look up from the creamy, pale fiber she is spinning into soft yarn. “Most people, that pays for living,” she says. “The food, the education. No savings.”

When the ceremony is over, necklaces of carnations and woven tassels are hung around each alpaca’s neck to show it has been blessed. In Peru, the end of the ceremony marks the beginning of a festival, so right there on the National Mall, to the beat of drums and the whistle of flutes, the Peruvians dance their thanks to Mother Earth.

Back in their pen, the blessed alpacas pace, perhaps not yet aware of their good fortune.

From NPR
By Jessie Rack

Read the original here.

Picnic in Alpaca Pasture is Highlight of Farm Tour

 A group of gals from Columbus, Ohio came for a Farm Tour over the weekend.  They had asked if they could bring their lunch, then do a Drop Spindle Class in the afternoon.  Though they enjoyed learning to spin, and they enjoyed shopping in The Fiber Studio, their picnic in the alpaca pasture was the highlight!

Picnic in the Pasture

When given some options where they could have their lunch, they opted for in the pasture under a shade tree.

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What a spread they had … they were very kind and invited me to join them!

Picnic in Pasture is Highlight of Farm Tour

Mabelle, Martha, and our guard llama, Silver Beauty ventured over to the picnic spot to see what was going on.

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Before long, curiosity got the best of some of our other girls and they ventured over to check out who was in their pasture.

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Having been a little disappointed during the tour that our alpacas were not more social, our guests were now getting undivided attention.

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I thought they might end up having to share their lunch with their new fiber friends.

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 That is what Miss Miami was hoping!

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Lunch in the pasture after a Farm Tour was definitely a first, and very much enjoyed by our guests!

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See it live!  Watch it on YouTube.

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Little Martha enjoyed some lunch too!

Spring Open House Pictures

    

We had more families with children at our Spring Open House than we’ve probably ever had.  Fortunately I remembered to take some pictures, especially of kids and alpacas!  Gentle and curious by nature, alpacas respond  very well to children.  Kids got a chance to pet the alpacas and walk Sunscape, one of our Spring babies born last year, just shy of her first birthday.

Kids and Alpacas

We had neighbors we had never met stop by to see what was going on.  Others planned their visit intentionally to learn more about alpacas and what we do with their fiber.  Visitors saw spinning demonstrations throughout the weekend in The Fiber Studio and took advantage of our Spring specials.   Stacy Swesey was the winner of our drawing for a FREE pair of Alpaca Socks, congratulations Stacy!  We enjoyed two awesome days of beautiful weather … thank you to all who visited!

Schedule an Alpaca Farm Tour at Alpaca Meadows

If you’d like to visit our farm with your school, your scout troop, 4-H Club, civic organization, Garden Club, Mother’s Club, guild, family, or group of friends, find out about scheduling an Alpaca Farm Tour.  If you would like to be keep abreast on what’s new at our farm, upcoming classes, new products, free patterns, and other fun stuff, click here.

Shearing Day

Sloppy Joes, buns, chips, apples, Little Debbies,  bottled water, coffee, grooming tools, halters, leads, bags, labels, broom, dust pan, garbage cans, and helpers!  I think I have everything ready for shearing day the next day.   The shearers are to arrive sometime between 11am and 1pm so we plan to spend the morning cleaning alpacas.  I can relax … until … I get home about 7pm and there is a call from the shearers that they will be arriving at 7am!

Seriously?

Alpaca Shearing

My 16 year old daughter Abby usually keeps us organized on shearing day, but she is on medical status at school, and can’t miss more school without a doctor’s excuse.  So be it.  She will go to school post-shearing day and be unexcused.  We need her help!

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Three of our grandchildren also stay home from school for “family business”.  Their mother feels helping with shearing day is as much an education as a day at school.  How right she is!

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Friends arrive to help.  My 21 year old son Aaron drags himself out of bed.

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We will shear light colored alpacas first, then medium and dark colors to try and limit different colored fiber getting mixed together.

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Some of us will clean alpacas with several different types of grooming tools, picking out hay, straw, and burrs the best we can, and as much as each alpaca will tolerate.  It is much easier to clean fiber while it is still on the animal than after it has been sheared off.

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Someone will halter the alpacas, they will go into a holding pen, and await their turns.

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A team of four strong and young men come from ShearingAlpaca.com.  They are very experienced at handling the alpacas, laying them down on a mat, and restraining their legs to be shorn.

The head shearer on the shearing crew will shear the blanket first.  The blanket is considered to be the prime fiber.  Another shears the neck, the belly, the legs.

Grades of Alpaca Fiber

Topknots, tails, toes, and teeth get trimmed.

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And there is lots of fiber to gather.  The blanket is laid on a flat plastic sheet to be carefully rolled in the sheet.  This way it can later be unrolled the same way it came off the alpaca and skirted.  Skirting is the process of removing coarse or dirty fiber away from the blanket.

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And of course, there is always time for my children to check text messages!

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Until they see they are having their pictures taken!

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Llamas are twice the size of an alpaca and according to our shearers, the “take down” is much more fun!

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Our llama, Silver Beauty, has her own ideas about getting a hair cut.

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She is down, and the shearers discuss what they might have done differently!

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The cleaning is done.  Grandson Keandre’ and son Aaron take a break.

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It is Sam’s turn to be shorn.

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One of the shearers and Sam take a break!

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Cuddle time?

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The shearers finished 24 alpacas and one llama in about three hours.  The shearers were paid, the fiber was loaded in the trailer, tools were put away, the floor was swept, and our alpacas were all a little bit lighter.  And cooler!

Shearing Alpacas

The sloppy joes were ready but it was only 10am!  We loaded up and headed to another alpaca farm nearby to help with shearing there.  Finally, with another herd shorn, we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed some lunch!

See Shearing Day is Behind Us

 

Alpaca Hairstyles

Check out these great alpaca pics at Animal Tracks on Today!   Laura T. Coffey writes “Shear Madness: Hairstyle Dos and Don’ts for Alpacas”.  There definitely are some “don’ts” in the group!

Shear Madness: Hairstyle Dos and Don'ts for Alpacas

“If you’re an alpaca, you know how it is: You’re standing around, grazing and minding your own business, and all of a sudden some human comes along and shears off your fur so they can turn it into sweaters, coats and socks.

The experience is always a jarring one — but you know what?  It provides an opportunity to a) exude confidence and
b) LOOK STYLISH.”

Be sure to “like” Alpaca Meadows on Facebook for other interesting posts and updates!

Spring Suri Special, Ariella!

Our little Ariella is all grown up and we are offering her for sale at 1/2 price this Spring!  Born October 14, 2009, Ariella is 2 1/2 years old and ready to breed!

Though she could have been bred younger, but we did not breed our herd last year because of our move to a new farm.  Experience has shown that sometimes alpacas bred young end up being babies having babies, kind of like teenage mothers, and aren’t ready to be moms!  At this age, Ariella should be prime for motherhood!

Sister to Sophie Ann, who has a reputation for laying down in the barn at the county fair to let people pet her, Ariella is also inquisitive and friendly.

Little Ariella

She comes from some fine genetics, with her daddy Zumaya producing lots of nice babies, and her mama Miski coming from the Ameripaca breeding program!

Dam – Ameripaca’s Miski
Sire – Peruvian Zumaya

 

 

 

Ariella's Fiber

Her fiber is soft and fine and a beautiful beige color, a hand spinner’s dream!

Camelid Health Conference

Camelid Health Conference

For Owners and Breeders

Camelid Health Conference

 

The Ohio Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s Camelid Health Conference, hosted by The Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center. The conference coincides with the International Camelid Health Conference which provides experts in the field of camelid medicine.

Topics include:

  • Herbal & Organic Deworming
  • Parasite/Nutrition & Reproduction
  • Dystocia Management
  • Geriatric Alpaca Care and more….

Conference Details:

  • DATE: March 24, 2012 7:30 am-5:30 pm
  • (6:30 reception following)
  • FEE: $100 for OABA members or $150 for non-members
  • Early bird registration deadline February 29, 2012

A complete informational brochure can be printed from:

www.ohioalpacaassociation.com or www.vetmedce.osu.edu

Last year included numerous side discussions with the attending veterinarians & speakers…

This is an opportunity not to be missed!
 

 

For more information about the conference or registration contact: 

Genevieve Thompson
thompson.2241@osu.edu

 

 

 

oaba logo

Holiday Hours at The Farm

We will kick off the holiday season, Saturday, November 26th with extended hours from 12pm – 5pm here at the farm.

 

Give a gift just a little out of the ordinary… something handmade perhaps…something made from alpaca!  Visit the farm and see the alpacas that produce this wonderful fiber.  Get your hands on some of the incredibly soft and warm items made from this luxurious fiber.  Give a gift that has value Shop for …

Blankets

Hats

Scarves

Socks

Texting Mittens

Gloves

Children’s Hats

Baby Booties

Headbands

Eye Glass Cases

Cell Phone & Ipod Cases

Christmas Ornaments

Many Handmade Alpaca Items


See our beautiful NEW alpaca blankets!  Pick up alpaca socks for Christmas gift giving, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and many handmade alpaca items …

Get your hands on some alpaca fiber!  Luxurious, versatile, soft, warm, strong, resilient, natural and hypoallergenic, alpaca fiber offers many advantages and is considered by many to be the “miracle fiber”.   Once you get your hands on it, you will immediately understand the intrinsic value of everything produced from this fiber.

Alpaca Rovings for Spinning at Alpaca Meadows

Check out our brand NEW Fiber Studio full of gorgeous alpaca yarn and fiber, patterns, and fiber art kits.

Alpaca Meadows Farm Store

This will kick off our monthly Just Sit-n-Knit or Crochet or Spin on the second Saturday of the month.  Bring your knitting, crocheting, spinning, or whatever Christmas project you are working on.  Hang out with friends, relax, enjoy Christmas music, hot chocolate, and holiday refreshments!

Shop The Farm Store … Online, Open Anytime!

Did you know?

Archaeologists have discovered a great deal of alpaca fiber goods from graves and religious sites predating the Inca Empire
in South America, a true testament to the durability of alpaca fiber and its long history.

Alpacas, Like Children, Love Anything New!

I love to watch the alpacas,
just watch them, especially when there is something new!

There was an interesting bird in the pasture the other day, by itself, that must have found something in the poop piles that it liked.  The alpacas were entertained for a good long while.  The bird was persistent.  The alpacas would very cautiously come close, the bird would fly away, then back down to land somewhere else in the pasture.  Off would go the alpacas as if they’d never seen anything like it before.  They were entertained and so was I!

We added a lean-to for the alpacas to the back of a building that we use for our garage, farm store, and fiber studio.  It gave them shade in the summer and some protection from bad weather.

In preparation for winter coming we have recently enclosed the shelter.

The herd has been watching…

… and wondering …

… and waiting …

… so curious …

Hmmm …

Finally it was finished …

and in they came!

Like kids in a candy store, they were excited to check out their new surroundings!

They seemed to like it …

… our guard llama seemed to approve.

And there you have it … another day in the life of  an alpaca !  I am grateful to be able to enjoy some of the little things with them.

Little stones make big mountains.
Little steps can cover miles.
Little acts of loving-kindness
Give the world its biggest smiles.

Little words can soothe big troubles
Little hugs can dry big tears
Little candles light the darkness
Little memories last for years

Little dreams can lead to greatness.
Little victories to success.
It’s the little things in life.
That brings the greatest happiness.

— Author Unknown



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