In today’s post, I’ll be sharing some photos from a recent visit to House Family Farm. The farm is run by Shirley, the woman in my mother’s deep water class from whom we purchased the alpaca yarn I used to knit my mom’s shawl (read about the shawl in my previous blog post). Shirley graciously extended an invitation to come see her alpaca farm in person, and my mom and I didn’t hesitate to accept.
I expected to see maybe five or so alpacas. To my surprise, there were maybe 40 alpacas on the farm. Upon arrival, a group of the females were eager to make our acquaintance and curiously came over to say hello.
Shirley introduced us to each alpaca, whom all have quirky, lovable names (Seraphina, Golden Boy, Dan the Man, and many more).
Shirley and her husband started up their farm years ago, bidding on an alpaca at auction. Neither had any background in how to raise alpaca. It was inspiring to hear about how they dove into their adventure and impressive to see what it has become. When Shirley’s husband passed soon after bringing home their first alpacas, Shirley independently learned how to run the farm and take care of her alpacas.
Shirley explained the process of how she gets from furry alpacas to finished yarn skeins. When the alpacas are ready to be sheared, specialists come to the farm to harvest the alpaca fiber. The results are pounds of alpaca fiber intertwined with leaves, twigs, and whatever else the alpacas have been rolling around in.
Then, Shirley sits in her barn and hand picks through the fiber until it meets her satisfaction. The cleaned fiber is stored in bags in her barn until it’s time to bring it to a specialist for spinning and dying. Depending on the texture of the alpaca fiber (which varies animal to animal), it will be blended with another fiber (wool, tencel, silk, etc.) during spinning. Some of the yarn will remain natural colored, and the rest will be dyed into various shades of teals, purples, pinks, blues, and any other color Shirley requests.
At the time of our visit, Shirley had a whole trunk full of cleaned fiber, ready to send off to be spun and dyed into finished skeins.
Shirley often has visitors while she cleans fibers in her barn. These smarty-pants alpacas know where the treats are kept.
In fact, the alpacas followed Shirley all around the farm during our visit.
In hearing Shirley talk about her farm, it was easy to see how thoroughly she enjoys it and the great love she has for her alpacas. In our short time there, it became very apparent how each alpaca has his own personality, and how curious these animals are. It was truly an awesome experience to meet the alpacas behind my knitted alpaca shawl.
Please enjoy some additional photographs from the farm in the slideshow below. Thanks for reading!