I want to share with you how I first got exposed to the alpaca farming opportunity. It all started innocently enough. I bought a ticket for our garden club's annual bus trip.
We stopped at several interesting places, usually including a place to buy plants like a greenhouse, a point of major interest, like one time we went to The Wilds in Zanesville, OH where they have African animals on acres and acres of reclaimed coal mining land, and of course a restaurant to feed us as it is an all day trip.
It is always a fun and happy outing, and it supported our garden club's activities for most of the year, so I always signed up and went.
I didn't really notice that one of the stops was going to be to an alpaca ranch in Mansfield, Ohio that did bus tours. They met our group and the tour started at the boy pasture. It was a SURI alpaca farm. They had the boys pastured on one side of the driveway and the girls pastured on the other. There were big long fenced paths for the alpaca to get from their pastures to the barns at the back of the house. There was even a nice little 'barn' for the craft/farm store where they sold their alpaca fiber, handmade alpaca related items, socks, teddy bears, sweaters, purses, gift cards, ornaments, etc.
So the boys looked at us across the fence and the owner told us about boy alpacas and some of their behaviors and why they were separated from the girls and which ones were their really nice famous ones. The boys played, "King of the Hill' for us, too. I asked if they made them into alpaca hide/pelt rugs, as I had purchased some double, queen, and round ones a couple years ago in California. The owner was a bit taken aback and explained that here in the US, they don't kill the alpaca as it costs too much to buy one. It takes a year to produce a baby alpaca and its fiber is very valuable. The rugs I had purchase had been imported from Peru where the animals may die in the harsh winters and they utilize all parts of the animal and nothing goes to waste.
Next we went across the drive to the girls pasture. They explained that our tour may be interrupted at any time because they had a girl that was due and had been acting like she was going to have her baby today! It was only a little into her speech that the birth started progressing with two little feet and a head protruding! So right there in front of us all, a dark baby alpaca was born! The owners and the dam made it look really easy! They didn't do much of anything, but had towels and iodine spray at hand to rub the baby down. We got to watch while all the other members of the herd came by to sniff it. Even the guard llama came over to sniff the new member of the herd that she was responsible for guarding and keeping safe! Eventually, our group was delighted by the owner carrying the new baby over to us for a brief pass along our line, just out of touch!!
After all that excitement, we had to hurry over to the rest of the barn and over to the farm store, picked up a few brochures and some goodies and climbed back aboard the bus for our next stop. Needless to say, I had two hours to peruse those brochures on the financial aspects of raising alpacas. I was very interested. Went home and researched online and began searching for farms near me that had farm stores and that would host your purchased alpacas. Because I live in town, livestock is not allowed on my property! So I needed a place that knew how to care for them and was willing to host the alpacas I wanted to purchase from other farms! That was in July of 2006. Now I have a herd of around 30! Come back tomorrow and learn more of my adventures with alpacas!