Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fiber Field Trip: Albuquerque Alpacas

There is nothing like visiting fibers at the source!  Some of the lovely ladies of our friendly stitchers group went on a field trip this past weekend to Albuquerque Alpacas to visit the crias.  The weather was perfect and spring was blooming everywhere.

The farm is nestled in North Albuquerque off Alameda in a quiet little neighborhood.  You'd never believe there was a major city so near by.  We were warmly greeted and brought right out to the holding pens to be introduced.  I'm embarrassed to admit I retained very little of the information we were presented with - I was instead enchanted by the farm and it's inhabitants.

But I did learn a little.  Alpacas are part of the dromedary family; their feet have soft pads like that of dogs, with two large toe nails.  I also learned that they only have bottom teeth, with a tough gum palate in place of top teeth, and three stomaches.  Alpaca waste is "cold enough" that it can be directly composted with immediate benefits.  And finally, I learned they have an 11 month gestational period.

The alpaca are smart animals and some know tricks.  One in particular gave kisses and was gentle enough that you could put treats in your mouth for the animal to kiss away, as the owner demonstrated.

We each took our turns feeding and petting the babies that were released into a general pen for our enjoyment, then headed over to the on-location fiber shop to delight in the stuffed animals, sweaters, felted hats, socks, dusters, scarves, rugs and, of course, skeins of lucious alpaca fiber.

The alpaca farm has also recently added a conference room in which they will be hosting corporate retreat events and classes ranging from spinning to dyeing and weaving to knit/crochet.

Special thanks to Jo for co-ordinating this wonderful excursion!