Interview with John Ferrante of Otter Peaks Alpacas, LLC

National Alpaca Farm Days are this weekend, September 28th and 29th! We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak with John Ferrante of Otter Peaks Alpacas in Thaxton, Virginia, and he gave us some insight about life on an alpaca farm and the fabulous fiber and products made from their fleece. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation as John opens our eyes to everything that goes into making the soft alpaca yarn we all love.

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Jamie: How did you first start raising alpacas?

John: We started raising alpacas in the central New York area after seeing a herd while boating. They seemed interesting, so we docked our boat and started talking to the owners. We fell in love with the alpacas immediately and went home to research them. After a short time, we contacted another nearby farm and began talking about purchasing animals. We were offered an opportunity to work on the farm and learn how to raise and care for our alpacas, and we purchased a pregnant female. After a few years, we purchased land and moved our herd to our current location, Otter Peaks Alpacas, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We now have 23 alpacas and several on the way.

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Jamie: What kind of care do they require?

John: Caring for alpacas includes protection (fencing and shelter), clean water, nutritional food, cooling fans during summers, and socializing them so they can be easily handled. Special care is needed if you, as we do, show your alpacas in competitions and want to produce high quality fiber. We work with our animals every day, especially the cria (baby alpacas) as they are developing.

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Jamie: How do the alpacas react to being shorn? Are they happy to get a haircut?

John: We shear our alpacas once per year in mid-April. Shearing only takes a few minutes per animal and they quickly get used to it. I believe they are happy to have us remove their heavy fiber coat when the temperatures are climbing in southern Virginia. Alpacas are quite sensitive to heat and are much more content after shearing.

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Jamie: Do you know anyone who knits or crochets and has made a project with yarn from your alpacas’ fleece?

John: My wife Cindy knits and crochets farm-made products with fiber from our own alpacas. She also makes felted animals, bottle cozies, and other felt products. Cindy operates an alpaca farm store where she sells raw fiber, rovings, and fiber in all stages of processing, including yarn. We often have folks who knit or crochet come to the store for yarn. Cindy custom dyes the alpaca yarn for customers who are looking for a special color.

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Wouldn’t it be divine to knit or crochet your next project with alpaca yarn purchased directly from a farm? Yarn crafts help us to embrace a natural, hand-made lifestyle, and seeing first-hand where your fiber comes from takes that sentiment to the next level. Snag some gorgeous yarn during National Alpaca Farm Days this weekend while the kids get to know these adorable animals.

National Alpaca Farm Days – Sept. 28-29

If you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity for the whole family, National Alpaca Farm Days are the perfect opportunity to enjoy the fall weather and meet some of these adorable animals. We all love alpaca yarn, so we’re excited to learn more about the cuties that provide it.

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Farms are participating all across America, so find one near you and mark your calendar for September 28th and 29th. Some farms are only participating one of the two days, so check their schedule before planning your visit. You won’t want to miss this interesting and fun opportunity!

Alpaca Yarn Is Environmentally Friendly

In honor of National Alpaca Farm Days coming up this weekend we’re doing a series of posts with fun facts about alpacas. One thing you may not know about alpaca yarn is that it is environmentally friendly. Read on to find out why.

  • Alpacas have padded feet instead of hooves which allows them to inhabit delicate terrain without damaging the topsoil.
  • When alpacas eat grass, they don’t pull it up by the roots. They just cut it with their teeth. This actually encourages plant growth and helps preserve the environment.
  • Alpacas’ droppings are a low-odor fertilizer that is easy to compost.
  • When the fleece is turned into fiber, no chemicals are used.
  • Only 20% of a normal dye quantity is needed, if dying is desired.

Want to get your hands on some alpaca fiber or see these adorable animals for yourself? National Alpaca Farm Days is a chance for the whole family to visit an alpaca farm, and it’s free. It takes place on September 29th and 30th. Go to www.NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com for more information.

Fun Facts About Alpaca Yarn

Image courtesy of closeknitportland.blogspot.com

National Alpaca Farm Days is coming up on September 29th and 30th. It’s a great opportunity to visit alpaca farms and ranches and meet these wonderful animals in person and learn more about where this gorgeous fiber comes from.

To gear up for this exciting event, we thought we’d share a little bit about what makes alpaca yarn so special.

  • Alpaca fiber was once reserved for royalty
  • It so soft, it is often compared to cashmere
  • It has the luster of silk
  • Alpaca fiber is as warm as wool, but 1/3 the weight
  • It is also naturally hypoallergenic (and many people who are sensitive to wool can wear alpaca fiber without irritation or itching)

To find a participating farm or ranch in your area, visit www.NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com.