National Alpaca Farm Days Local Celebration
Weed, CA – September 24 and 25
It’s time again to celebrate National Alpaca Farm Days on Highway 97 in Weed. The event started in 2007 by Alpaca Owners Association as a way to introduce people to alpaca farming, and farms across the country participate.
The ranch, Alpaca on the Rocks, will open its gate from 10am-4pm on Sept 24 and 25 and is free to the public. The ranch is located at 5004 Solus Drive, 4 miles north of Weed on Highway 97, next to Papas Pumpkin Patch. “We would love to educate people on natural fiber products, and let them experience the ranch”, says Nancy Shelton, owner.
The ranch has been in business for several years, and the residents include alpacas, mini-horses, mini-donkeys, a mini-mule, dogs, cats and two pot belly pigs. “It is so much fun to see the kids’ faces light up when they meet the animals.” says Robin Shelton.
Saturday will be an educational event, including demonstrations of fiber processing, spinning weaving, needle felting and general education about all of the animals. Paula Jansen, a peg loom weaver, says” It is rewarding to show people how things are made.” The ranch also has a small studio/store where local artisans can display and sell their natural handcrafted products.
Alpacas are valued for their luxurious, cashmere-like fiber, originally from Peru, Chili, and Bolivia, and are no longer imported. There are two types, Huacaya is the more common, with soft wooly fiber that gives the animal a teddy bear like appearance, and Suri, which have longer, silky locks. The lifespan is about 20 years, and the gestation period is about 11 ½ months, producing one cria (baby). A full-grown alpaca weighs between 100 and 200 pounds. The animals are shy as a rule, gentle and easy to handle. Do they spit? Occasionally at each other over food, but not at humans- they are gentle creatures. Because these animals are environmentally friendly and require so little pasture and food, you can usually raise from two to eight alpacas on an acre of land, depending on pasture, access to fresh water, etc. They can also be raised on a dry lot and fed grass hay.
Sherri Bilbro, cofounder of the company, says,” Working with alpacas and their fiber is pure joy. Alpaca was the fiber of the Incan royalty and has been used in Peru for centuries. Those of us who work with the fiber see why and we want to make alpaca products readily available for everyone to enjoy. The many different natural colors, softness, strength, warmth, and light weight of the fiber are just a few of the things that make alpaca fiber so special. And once you meet your first alpaca, feel it’s softness and hear it hum, you’ll understand why we love these animals.”
Alpacas have a soft hum, to complement the other sounds at the ranch: braying, barking, meowing, snorting, and whinnying. As Jeanne Fanning, ranch helper and artist, says It’s like living in a petting zoo.”
There are several alpaca farms in Siskiyou county and we hope to have representatives at the ranch on Saturday. It is a friendly community with alpacas in common.
Hope you can join us!