Hello Dear Readers.
I can’t believe it’s Sunday. Goodness! Time flies when you are having fun, I guess. I meant to have this post out last Friday and there’s just been so much activity that I’m just now finally getting to write a few things down. I should be outside enjoying the sunshine, but I’ll share a few images from my sustainable agriculture photo project first. This post is all about sustainable agriculture in the form of fiber. But first, let me back up…
Have you ever met a person for the first time and just knew in your heart that you were meeting someone special? Someone that does what she does for all the right reasons…Someone who gives not just one thing her best effort, but every single thing that she touches gets her 110 percent? I believe I met that person last week when I went to visit Last Penny Farm Alpacas right here in Weaverville, NC. As it says on their website, Last Penny Farm Alpacas focuses on building their own herd of colored alpacas with a goal to improve fiber quality, educate others interested in the breed and support the future of the sustainable fiber industry. From the moment we chatted back and forth on Social Media the moment we actually met, I realized that Erin Greene knows her stuff when it comes to Alpacas. She not only knows just about everything there is to know about an Alpaca, but she cares for them like they were her own children. Her warm, open personality and her virtually spotless farm and happy animals told me that I had come to a place very special indeed. (As a matter of fact, I am now a huge fan of Erin and her Alpacas and I have fallen in love with these curious creatures.)
The first things you will see when you visit the farm are two very hard working farm dogs, Lavern and Sally. They basically keep everyone in line and make sure the farm is safe.
The next thing that you’ll see are several of the most curious creatures you’ve ever seen. I learned from Erin that Alpacas are part of the Camelid family that includes Llamas and Camels. They are the tiniest of the group and have the most luxurious fuzz. As a matter of fact, I learned SO much from Erin that I won’t be able to share all of it here but I highly encourage you to visit the farm and see for yourself what amazing creatures they are. Did I mention how amazing Erin is?
By the way, one important thing I learned about Alpacas….you can’t just walk up to an Alpaca and give him a big hug. They are shy, retiring creatures that don’t necessarily like to hang out with people unless they’ve gotten used to them. Erin works with her fuzzy family every day and has established a high trust level with her livestock. She knows them, inside and out and takes her animal welfare very seriously (with a whole helping of love tossed in).
There are also two very cute miniature donkeys on the farm and they keep everyone on their toes…including me!
I was thrilled to be able to hang out inside the enclosure and just watch these really fascinating animals. You don’t know how badly I wanted to reach out and pet one, but I felt it best to respect their space and watch from a distance. My patience was rewarded later in the morning when one of them walked right up to me and sniffed my camera!
The next thing I noticed is that no two Alpacas looked the same and apparently each animal has their own unique personality too. Erin shared with me that there are no less than 32 colors of Alpaca fuzz. ( I realize that “fuzz” isn’t quite the technical term, but I think it will suit my purposes here.) It’s so very hard to avoid adding human attributes to Alpaca, but it is important to remember that they are livestock. Erin shared with me that several of her stock goes on to become family pets, but Alpaca have a very specific set of needs that are decidedly not human. Alpaca have sensitive stomachs being pseudoruminants (having a three chambered stomach) and have a list of plants that can be poisonous.
Speaking of food…Alpaca chew in a figure eight motion that makes for some very entertaining photos.
As you can see, I never saw two that looked exactly alike.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about these glorious creatures is the fiber they produce. They are sheared once a year for their fleece and produce some of the most amazing fiber anywhere. The next shearing day is coming up on May 23rd, 2016.
I could go on and on about these wondrous creatures, but my post has already run long. I hope that I’ve piqued your interest into Alpacas and hopefully given you enough incentive to look into knowing more about these curious beasts. They are but one facet in the world of rapidly diminishing sustainable agriculture and I really hate to see that happen. I feel like most of us have lost our connection to the earth and sustainable agriculture is a way to reconnect for our health and well-being. When you support local family farms not only are you reconnecting your relationships with the earth, you know where your stuff comes from and you are providing a vital source of income for those families. How cool is that?
To learn more about Alpacas, please contact Erin Greene at Last Penny Farm Alpacas and give them some Facebook love here: Last Penny Farm Alpacas Facebook page. Don’t forget to visit the farm on shearing day on May 23rd to learn more about their incredible fibers. I’ll try to be out there that day with my camera for more fuzzy photos.
P.S. Not only are Alpacas cute from the front, but their fuzzy tail ends are adorable too.