The life of alpaca
They're known for their fabulous gloves, hats, socks. But, how much do you really know about the alpaca?
The first thing we learned about alpaca, here at the Eclipse Farm in Oxford, they go where the food is. And that's just what they did when they heard someone pouring food in the barn.
So, what's on the menu that they're so exctied about?
"An alpaca grain, that was designed just for them. And an orchard grass hay, which is a grass mix," says Annette Smith, the farm's owner.
Every now and then, you may come across an alpaca you can take for a walk. My new buddy, Walker, was all about it.
You can even dress them in little coats. They use the coats at Eclipse for the older members of the herd, Annette says, "just put a little jacket on them. Keep them cozy and warm."
Alpaca are certainly loveable. The animals captivated annette the first time she was around them, "I just was in awe by them. They were cool."
After a little research, Annette started her own herd, "They all have names. Mine are all registered. So that means they can go into the show ring."
Eclipse farm has a lot of visitors- tours, and birthday parties. Alpaca are herd animals, not meant to be pets. They do like people, and can certainly form a connection.
"They all have different personalities," Annette says.
There is a little store on the farm that sells alpaca products.
Every May, farmers shear alpaca fiber- which is what their fur is called. It comes in a lot of natural colors. Manufacturers process the fiber into yarn; then use it to make wonderfully soft and warm gloves, socks, scarves, hats, sweaters- you name it.
"Tthe fiber is exquisite. It's a breathable fiber," Annette says, "and I think everyone should have something alpaca for the winter."
There are two types, of alpaca. Suri have dreadlock-like fur. Then there are Huacayae, which you'll find at Eclipse, are Huacaya. .
Like me, you may wonder, which animal family are alpaca from?
"Camilidae. So, basically camels. And the alpaca is a cousin to the llama, and then there is the guanko," Annette says.
Alpaca originated in South America, but they're no longer imported into the United States. Many herds, like this one, are all American born.
If you'd like a front row seat to the wonderful world of alpaca, you can visit Eclipse Farm's website.