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RF 8: The adorable alpaca | Pamdemonium
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RF 8: The adorable alpaca

April 11, 2010

Owning a few acres in the country is dangerous for an over-active imagination. I think goats are sweet and a small herd could help mow the pasture and tame the underbrush. Goat cheese, I’ve been told, is not that difficult to make, though it involves getting the milk out of the goats at least once a day and, I assume, getting them pregnant.

Cattle are fairly land-intensive and the milking problem exists for one kind and the breeding for slaughter for the other. I am trying to eat more locally, I do understand where my foot comes, I love a good burger, but I am not ready to get one from the backyard.

Which brings Random Fact to alpacas. Adorable and easier on the land, the alpaca justifies more than one or two data bits: They are native to the Andes Mountains, cousins to the llama, first imported to the U.S. for commercial purposes in 1984, and produce fiber that is free of lanolin and naturally hypo-allergenic. That means for folks like me who are allergic to wool, not ideal for a native of the Upper Midwest, alpaca fiber is a great alternative.

I'll take 3 dozen, please.

Wait! Here’s more: The fiber is soft as cashmere but it has one-third the weight of wool. It is wrinkle resistant. Baby alpacas are called crias. Alpacas live about 20 years and get sheared annually. The come in 22 official natural colors, though to me many of them sound a bit like differentiating whites, creams and beiges on paint cards. Some examples: True Black, Bay Black, Light Brown, Medium Brown, Dark Brown, Light Fawn, Medium Fawn, Dark Fawn, Light Silver Grey, Medium Silver Grey, Dark Silver Grey, Light Rose Grey, Light Rose Grey, Medium Rose Grey, Dark Rose Grey and Beige. The most prevalent color is, simply, White.

One good acre of pasture can support five to 10 alpacas. We have about six acres of pasture and a few more on a woodsy hill. Do the math. In theory, with shelter, available water and protection from bobcats and what they call “ki-yotes” in these parts, we could easily support at least 40.

And The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association Inc. is based here in Nashville. A little creative thinking, and perhaps the potential for an agricultural tax break, can get the mind racing. I don’t want to weave myself, but I know co-ops buy the fiber, and the more it is processed the higher price it can command, and the demand for natural stuff grows as more people get back to the land, and….

Pamdemonium. It IS all over the place.

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{ 1 comment }

Jennifer Peebles April 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Let me see if I get this straight: True Black, Bay Black, Light Brown, Medium Brown, Dark Brown, Light Fawn, Medium Fawn, Dark Fawn, Light Silver Grey, Medium Silver Grey, Dark Silver Grey, Light Rose Grey, Light Rose Grey, Medium Rose Grey, Dark Rose Grey and Beige … What, no UT orange?

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