SIDNEY – Rick and Annette Paulus, owners of Count Your Blessings Alpacas, 680 Doorley Road, has invited the public to visit their farm, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to meet their alpacas and learn more about these inquisitive animals, the luxury fiber they produce, and why the alpaca business is perfect for environmentally conscious individuals.
The year 2018 marks the 12th year for Count Your Blessings Alpacas to welcome guests to join them for this free event. There will be many activities, including petting, feeding and leading alpacas, demonstrations, alpaca obstacle course, door prizes, hay ride, food and refreshments, music by Timmy G. & Co. and the hum of the alpacas.
The event is also an opportunity to learn what is special about alpaca fiber and the variety of products that people enjoy. Alpaca products will be on display and available for purchase.
Alpacas, cousins to the llama, are beautiful, intelligent animals native to the Andean Mountain range of South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fiber, which is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool.
Adult alpacas stand at approximately 36 inches at the withers and generally weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. They do not have horns, hooves, claws or incisors. Alpacas are alert, intelligent, curious and predictable. They are social animals that seek companionship and communicate most commonly by softly humming.
About alpaca fiber
Long ago, alpaca fiber was reserved for royalty. Today, it is sold several ways. Hand-spinners and fiber artists buy raw fleece. Knitters often purchase alpaca yarn. Fiber cooperative mills collect alpaca fiber and process it on behalf of the producer.
Alpacas are shorn, without harm, every 12 to 18 months. An adult alpaca might produce five to eight pounds of fiber.
Because of its soft texture, alpaca fiber is sometimes compared to cashmere. The fiber has the luster of silk, making it even more coveted. Alpaca is just as warm as wool, yet it is 1/3 the weight. It comes in 16 natural colors and can be dyed any desired shade.
Containing no lanolin, alpaca fiber is also naturally hypoallergenic. Most people who are sensitive to wool find that they can wear alpaca without the itching or irritation they feel from wool because alpaca fiber is smooth. Additional performance characteristics include stretch, water repellency and odor reduction. For travelers, clothing made from alpaca is desirable because it is wrinkle-resistant.
Today’s consumer searches for high-quality, environmentally sound products made of naturally renewable resources. The alpaca provides fiber, just as it has for thousands of years, to create colorful garments that are soft to the touch. Classically styled alpaca sweaters and suits can last for generations.
Socks, scarves, purses, golf shirts, teddy bears and blankets are just a few additional items made from North American alpaca fiber currently on the market.
Alpacas come in 16 natural colors, but they are all “green.”
Sensitive to their environment in every respect, alpacas have soft padded feet instead of hooves and can leave even the most delicate terrain undamaged. Damage to topsoil decreases long-term soil fertility and in the process, the soil is eroded and weed invasion is encouraged.
Alpacas prefer to eat tender grasses, which they do not pull up by the roots. Lacking upper teeth, alpacas “cut” the grass with their bottom teeth and upper palate. This vegetation cutting encourages the plants’ growth. Because they are modified ruminants with a three-compartment stomach, alpacas convert grass and hay to energy very efficiently, and stop eating when they are full, further preserving the landscape on which they live.
However, alpacas do not mind eating brush, fallen leaves and other “undesirable” vegetation, leaving the “good stuff” for species that do not have the stomach to digest such roughage.
Alpacas’ pellet-like droppings are PH balanced and an excellent, natural, slow-release, low-odor fertilizer. This rich fertilizer is perfect for growing fruits and vegetables. Because alpacas consolidate their feces in one or two communal spots in the pasture, it is easy to collect and compost, and the spread of parasites is controlled.
While alpacas are environmentally friendly — and even beneficial — to the land, what makes them even more “green” is the fiber they produce. No chemicals are employed either during feeding or during the industrial production of alpaca fleece into fiber. If dying is desired, only 20 percent of a normal dye quantity is required.
All fiber from an alpaca can be used. Even the fiber from the lower legs, belly and neck, is used for things such as natural weed mats to be placed around trees and in gardens. Alpaca fiber is biodegradable.
All alpacas are capable of spitting, but it is almost always reserved for other alpacas, not humans.
Alpacas are very vocal and make many sounds to communicate their feelings. The most common is a humming sound to let the others know that they are present and calm.
To learn more about Count Your Blessings Alpacas, call 937-538-0308 or find “Count Your Blessings Farm” on Facebook.