10 Reasons to Raise Alpacas

Why did we start raising alpacas? We fell in love with them, and the alpaca lifestyle! There are soo many more reasons to choose to start an alpaca farm…here’s just ten of them!

1. Love of the Animals

Like I said, we fell in love with the animals! When we visited that first alpaca farm and saw those intriguing looking animals, it was love at first sight! There is a peacefulness about these gentle animals, with their long elegant necks, large eyes, long lashes, and gentle humming. Alpacas continue to transfix us, making them irresistible for those of us who have taken the “taken the plunge.” 

We raise both suris and huacayas!

2. The Love of Luxury Fiber

As I sorted through the crop of fiber after our first shearing, I knew I wanted to learn how to use such luxurious fiber. It is very high quality, super soft, fluffy, lustrous, and silky. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is not prickly and has no lanolin, making alpaca fiber hypoallergenic.

Suri Fiber

The fiber can be sold raw off the animal, carded and spun into yarn, crocheted, knit, or woven into countless products, or felted. The possibilities are endless!

Huacaya Fiber

In both our Online Store and in our Farm Store, you can find anything from raw fiber to finished garments made directly from the fiber of alpacas. Though we do breed and sell the alpacas themselves, today the fiber is my main reason for raising alpacas.

3. The Desire for a Rural Lifestyle

Having alpacas gives us a reason to get outside, be in the outdoors, and enjoy the beauty all around us. Though we live right next to a major highway, there is something much simpler about living on a farm, raising animals, caring for their basic needs because they depend on us to do so, and sometimes getting dirty. It’s a slower pace. I love living with nature all around us, and looking out my window seeing alpacas graze in the pasture just makes it all that more enjoyable. Alpacas are gentle, inquisitive creatures that make us want to take time out to watch and enjoy them.

Our dogs Lizzie and Louie have a lot of courage on the other side of the fence!

4. A Great Family Endeavor

Living on a farm of any kind teaches kids responsibility, and alpacas are good with kids. When visitors come, we suggest they crouch down, so they are more child size because alpacas are less intimidated by children and more apt to approach them. There are tons of ways kids can help to take care of the alpacas, from filling water buckets, to scooping poop, to halter training…there is always a task with which they can help. Giving chores to your children will instill work ethic and responsibility to take into adulthood. Not to mention, they will treasure the bonds they make with the alpacas!

Raising alpacas is great for the kids
My grandson in the middle of things, loving the attention from the alpacas!

If your children participate in 4-H, they can now do alpacas as a 4-H project! When my children were growing up there was not a 4-H group dedicated to alpacas, now it is becoming much more common. The Richland County Fair in Ohio even has an alpaca barn and hosts an alpaca show every year. 4-H is an awesome program for kids to make friends, build leadership skills, learn about the projects they’ve chosen, and participate in the yearly fair. Find out more about Getting Your Children Involved in 4-H.

Alpaca 4h group at the Richland County Fair in Ohio
Richland County 4-H Club

7. Easy to Care For

Compared to other farm animals, alpacas are low maintenance. They are also very adaptable to different kinds of weather and climates. If you have one acre of land, you can comfortably keep six to ten alpacas. Alpacas require regular feeding and easy access to plenty of clean water, as well as adequate shelter from the elements. They spend most of their time grazing in the pasture. Additionally, plan on annual shearing, de-worming, toenail trimming, occasionally teeth trimming, and annual vaccinations.

8. Alpacas Provide Stress Relief

Even though alpacas have some quirky behaviors like spitting when they are unsatisfied, more and more animal lovers are opting to raise them because they are easy to look after, intelligent, and tidy. Time spent with alpacas is stress-relieving — perfect for forgetting about all the troubles of the world!

Suri alpaca at Alpaca Meadows
Not a good look for such a pretty girl!

8. Alpacas are Trainable

Alpacas are perfect animals for training using a halter and leash. Though fearful initially, I’m always amazed how quickly a weanling begins to trust and learn once halter training begins, and how quickly they begin to trust and do what you’re they’re being asked. Alpacas can be taught to maneuver obstacles courses, walk across bridges, over teeter totters, through streamers, and even crawling in and out of mini-vans!

Sisters Amelia and Annalise are out for a walk with me!

9. Alpaca Manure is Great Fertilizer

We absolutely love to use the alpaca poop as fertilizer! In my opinion the smell is not as strong as cow manure and our plants grow like crazy! We take it straight out of the pasture and into the gardens. Free fertilizer is a great perk of alpacas.

Speaking of manure…interestingly enough all alpacas poop in the same place…yes, they have communal dung piles! When it comes to cleaning out the barns or the pasture there are just a few large poop piles where they all do their business. I know, it’s weird, but that’s just their nature and it makes for pretty easy clean-up.

Alpaca Manure for fertilizer
I always treat my flowerbeds to alpaca manure

Alpacas are grazers and they love a nice green pasture. Typically we will let them in one pasture for a few weeks, let them eat it down, and then move them to another pasture to let that one grow back a bit. Rotating pastures also helps with parasite control.

Alpacas in the pasture
The girls enjoying a pretty day and a green pasture

10. The Cutest Babies Ever

One of the greatest joys of raising alpacas is the babies, called crias. Seeing them born is extra special, and watching themrun in the pasture just brings a smile to my face. Females can be bred once a year and have a gestational period of 242-345 days. Working with the animals starting from when they’re crias makes for a great owner/animal relationship and deepens trust…and the babies are sooo cute!

Alpacas are herd animals so if you want one, you’ll need to have two. This is actually a great thing because they don’t really need us. If your animal has at least one companion you don’t need to worry about not having enough time for them or keeping them engaged or entertained. Just get them some buddies and they will be just fine.

Want to know more about alpacas and our farm? Check out our website.

save the planet, wear alpaca!

Free Knitting Pattern – Drop Stitch Swizzle Alpaca Scarf

Scarf Crocheted with Swizzle Alpaca Yarn

I love how this scarf turned out!

Scarf Crocheted with Swizzle Alpaca Yarn

The yarn I used is 100% alpaca so of course it is soft and lovely!  This yarn is hand-dyed.  The color is Academy Blue, one of the nine beautiful shades in the Swizzle line from The Alpaca Yarn Company available at Alpaca Meadows.

Swizzle Alpaca Yarn Scarf

 The pattern is by Christine Vogel of Frazzled Knits.  She is right, it does look beautiful in a variegated yarn.  The horizontal drop stitch makes it fun to knit … as the yarn overs are dropped, the lacy design is created!

Swizzle Alpaca Yarn Scarf

April Yarn of the Month

The Alpaca Yarn Company has launched a new program, and will be introducing a Limited Edition YARN OF THE MONTH!  The first yarn is from the Suri Elegance yarn line and is called “Curiosity Cabinet”.  It is a beautiful yarn with deep, rich tones!

Suri Elegance Yarn of the Month

Suri Elegance is an elegant, lustrous, lace-weight yarn made of 100% Suri Alpaca. Each 3.5 ounce (100g) skein has approximately 875 yards and is perfect for lace projects.  The manufacturer’s suggested gauge for lace knitting is 7 stitches per inch using US#3 (3.25 mm) needles.

The Suri Alpaca is the rarer of the two types of alpacas. A suri in full fleece is absolutely breathtaking, with its locks of fiber blowing in the breeze. Draping locks are what characterize these elegant animals. The fiber grows vertically and hangs down their sides. It is straight and has a slick, silky feel.  It has a high degree of sheen, often referred to as luster.

The alpaca pictured above is a Grand Champion named Matterhorn and he resides at our farm!

If you order Curiosity Cabinet during the month of April, you will receive a FREE downloadable pattern of either Bouvardia (knitting pattern) or Mithril (crochet pattern).  Just send me an email and let me know which one you’d like!

Helpful TIPS on knitting lace can be found here:

Majoring in Lace: Introduction

Majoring in Lace – Part II

Learn To Crochet Class

I am offering a Learn To Crochet Class this Saturday here at the farm.  I’ll be teaching the basic crochet stitches and we’ll actually get started on a scarf using a bulky yarn called Snuggle.  I know practicing and making swatches is important, especially when making something that needs to fit, but I’m one that likes to see results for my efforts so we’re going to jump right in with a project!

Crocheted Red Alpaca Scarf

Using a fairly large hook and bulky yarn, this Fast and Easy Scarf works up quickly and is good practice at the same time.  The pattern calls for chain stitch and double crochet.

We will also make some of these cute little butterflies using Beginner’s Butterfly pattern by Erin Burger.  This will give us practice at chain stitch, slip stitch, double crochet, treble crochet, and How To Whip Stitch In Crochet.

Crochet (pronounced /kroʊ’ʃeɪ/) is a process of creating fabric from yarn or thread using a crochet hook. The word itself is derived from the Middle French word croc or croche, meaning hook.  Crochet is an extremely versatile and popular technique for making a variety of fashion and home decor accessories. To crochet, you need a hook
and yarn. Depending on the type yarn you use, you can create a variety of different fabrics. By combining crochet stitches and lighter weight or softer yarns, you create a delicate, drapable fabric; a thicker yarn produces a sturdy fabric. Beautiful textured and raised stitches are especially easy to make in crochet. You can also crochet with fine threads to create lacy projects like doilies or even string or cord.

No one would call it the art of crochet if it wasn’t first and foremost a labor of love. It’s an intricate art, it’s love at first sight, and it holds the lover’s attention for hours on end.

While preparing for this class, I found some links I would recommend if you are wanting to learn how to crochet.  Stitches – For Dummies has great pictures of the different stitches and simple, easy to understand directions.  At the Craft Yarn Council there is a Crochet Abbreviations Master List, Crochet Chart Symbols, and help for How to Read a Crochet Pattern.

If pictures and written instructions don’t work for you, the You Tube video below may help.

Are you left-handed?  My mother is.  There are Crochet Lessons for Left-Handers available on the Crochet Guild of America website.

Kids may have fun learning how to Finger Crochet…

If you find you just can’t stop crocheting once you have learned how, you could always Crochet for Charity.  There are many worthwhile causes and people in need that would benefit from the work of your hands.

Some sites I found with FREE patterns are:

Crochet Pattern Central
Lion Brand Free Crochet Patterns
Naturally Caron Free Crochet Patterns
Ravelry
– Just do a search for Free Crochet Patterns.

Of course, there are lots of good books on crocheting too!

Mark Twain Craft Bazaar

I am headed to the 26th Annual Mark Twain Craft Bazaar this weekend, November 6th,
in Westerville, Ohio.

fiber, festival, boutique, bazaar, show, craft, alpaca, yarn, hand made, hand crafted, unique, gifts, kits, Christmas, Alpaca Meadows, Westerville, Ohio

It is being held at the Westerville North High School at 950 County Line Rd, from 10am-3pm.

fiber, festival, boutique, bazaar, show, craft, alpaca, yarn, hand made, hand crafted, unique, gifts, kits, Christmas, Alpaca Meadows, Westerville, Ohio

The Mark Twain Craft Bazaar is one of the most highly anticipated holiday bazaars in Westerville.

fiber, festival, boutique, bazaar, show, craft, alpaca, yarn, hand made, hand crafted, unique, gifts, kits, Christmas, Alpaca Meadows, Westerville, Ohio

As it enters the 26th year, the Mark Twain Craft Bazaar has grown to include over 125 unique artists from throughout Ohio and welcomed 2000 patrons last year.

All items are beautifully hand crafted.

fiber, festival, boutique, bazaar, show, craft, alpaca, yarn, hand made, hand crafted, unique, gifts, kits, Christmas, Alpaca Meadows, Westerville, Ohio

The pictures are from my booth at A Wool Gathering this year in Yellow Springs, Ohio and show a sampling of what I will be taking to Westerville.

I had to include a picture of my helper, my 13 year old daughter, doing what 13 year-olds do best…



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