All posts by Farmer/Fiber Artist

Alpacas on vacation.

For the next few weeks we are not able to be open for farm visits as we attend to family needs and participate in alpaca 4H activities at the Whidbey Island Fair.  However, if you’re yearning for alpaca yarn or a pair of alpaca socks or some of our other alpaca products please contact us by email and we’ll be happy to accommodate you.

We encourage you to visit the Whidbey Island Fair August 6-9 in Langley, WA. It has all the funloadingBackDoor-blog of a rural county fair. . . . animals, rides and food. The 4H alpaca club will be having their competitions on Friday in the arena by the alpaca barn. Sit in the grandstand and watch the 4H alpaca handlers put their animals through their paces. On Sunday you can watch the egg and spoon races and timed obstacles courses. It’s a lot of fun for everyone. See you at the Fair.

Please watch the website for updates on when the farm will be open for visits again.

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Shorn before a heat wave.

girlsjustshornAll the alpacas are happy to have had their furry winter coats  shorn off before the temps reached record highs in the Northwest! All 20 alpacas and mama llama Sylvia had haircuts and toenail trims in mid June. They look so skinny without their fluffy fleece.

As always we were left with bags and bags of fleece. Most of it is already sorted by fiber characteristics into different grades and sent off to the mill to be made into premium yarns. We’re grateful to have another fleece harvest done for the year. Thanks to our excellent shearer and all our helpers! We are so appreciative of your hard work and good spirits as the day wore on and on.

CoolSprayBoysThese last couple of weeks have been really hot here on Whidbey and there’s no rain forecast as far out as we can see. On the hottest days the alpacas truly enjoy a bit of spray to cool off. We’re finding they are more interested in greeting visitors in the morning hours. By late afternoon they are all hunkered down in the shade of their shelters and not very willing to come out into the sun.

 

 

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Successful Spring Show.

Our 4H alpaca group just had their spring show. This event is a trial run for the Whidbey Island Fair which happens in August.

Whidbey Island's Inca Pride Alpaca 4H
Whidbey Island’s Inca Pride Alpaca 4H

The judges put the kids and their alpacas through their paces. It’s a good way to find out what you need to work on with your alpaca so you’ll be more successful at the county fair.

Walking single file.
Walking single file.

 

One session is showing your alpaca in a group with others. The judge is looking to see how well the handler keeps their alpaca under control. Can they walk single file across the show ground? Does the handler have to pull the alpaca along or is the alpaca pulling the handler? Neither is desirable. The alpaca should walk with a loose lead a few steps behind the handler.

over obstacles
Walking over a squishy mattress with a noisy tarp and moving objects.

 

Can they line up side by side and stand still when the handler directs them to? Sometimes the alpacas get excited and jump around and the handler has to know just what to do to get them quietly back in position.

Another challenging session is the obstacle course. Alpacas tend to be uneasy walking on different surfaces and through unfamiliar places. But, ideally the 4H handler has built a trust with their alpaca so the two can successfully navigate a series of obstacles they’re seeing for the first time. Alpacas are smart and our 4H handlers have to show them who’s in charge and that they will be kept safe when they are on a halter and lead.

gettingribbonsIt’s a fun day for everyone. And, of course, there are ribbons to be earned for all their hard work. Our judges, an experienced llama trainer and a 4H alpaca graduate had a good time with the kids and their alpacas.

Judge Kate and her assistant Hannah.
Judge Kate and her assistant Hannah

Thanks everyone for a wonderful Spring Show. Now it’s time to get to work on those things you and your alpaca still need to learn. See you in August at the Whidbey Island Fair.

 

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Girls day out.

blythe2It was a busy and beautiful weekend on the farm with visitors to the island coming to the farm to meet the alpacas. And what a delightful surprise when a long time friend of mine and her daughter dropped by for their first visit to the farm. Here’s  her daughter, Blythe, schmooozing with Freya and Electra in the girls’ pasture.

AsaSupercloseUP_blogWe captured a couple of other great pictures of the fluffy characters on the farm that day. How could you not love this face! Asa has lovely mahogany fleece and killer eyelashes.

 

pedrospeaks_blogAnd Pedro seems to be telling the boys he’s in charge and that he’s the most macho of them all.

Spring is a great time to visit the alpacas. They still have all their fluffy fleece. We’re heading towards shearing day so don’t wait too long to plan your visit to see them in their full fleecey splendor.

Oh, and we have just received from the mill more skeins of our true black, bay black and white 100% alpaca yarn — all from our own herd. Plus, for the weavers and fiber artists we have white, beige, rose gray and dark mahogany brown rug yarn spun on a cotton core. It’s beautiful and I can’t wait to get the loom warped up again for more rugs.

 

 

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Chinese students enjoy visiting with our alpacas.

chinesegroup2It was beautifully sunny day when several carloads of college students arrived at the farm. We were delighted to welcome 29 members of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at the University of Washington. I think one or two had been to the farm before or had learned about us from postings on Weibo (the Chinese equivalent to twitter!)  So they organized a spring day trip to our farm.

chinese-camerasWith cameras in hand and lots of enthusiasm, our visitors learned all about raising alpacas, their traits and personalities.  They quickly discovered that getting an alpaca to stand still for a selfie is not an easy task. They asked lots of questions, took lots of pictures and thoroughly enjoyed their time with the alpacas. Our alpacas have a good bit of experience with the public through their 4H training so they are not particularly fazed by having a group of friendly people in their pasture. We’ve been told that alpacas are like ‘rock stars’ in China. They are very popular and judging by the number of visitors from China that we have had to the farm over the last couple of years I believe it must be true.

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