Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Neighbors are Alpacas

For two weeks, we have been driving by an alpaca farm that is located a short jaunt from the RV park. As animal lovers, Betsy and I have been intrigued at how many alpaca farms and products are for sale in Maine; we see soft socks, fuzzy scarfs, attractive sweaters, and a host of other furry alpaca products at festivals, craft fairs, and stores. Since there is an alpaca farm so close, and their designer sign by the road is so eye-catching, we decided to stop in for a visit. Evergreen Ridge Alpacas advertises breeding, sales and a farm store and proudly proclaim that they are a “warm and fuzzy farm in Midcoast Maine.”
Two alpacas leisurely grazing .
As we pulled in to the farm, we were greeted by a very friendly woman, Ricki, who invited us into the store. Her friendly nature and our interest in the alpacas soon developed into an in-depth conversation and it became readily apparent that Ricki has a true passion for alpacas. Ricki is a self-described “burnt-out nurse” turned alpaca farmer – boy can we relate to burn-out leading to life style changes. It was easy to see her draw to the four-legged, long-necked, grass chewing, fluff balls. When Betsy started talking about artificial inseminations and the reproductive system of alpacas, Ricki seemed to sense that we were not just average visitors looking for a scarf, but instead very interested animal people. So, we were elated when Ricki suggested we take our conversation outside to the barn and meet some of the newest members of the 75-head herd.

It was the cute alpaca on the sign that lured us in to the farm and store.
Hungry alpaca!
Alpacas belong to the Camelid family and their close relatives are camels, llamas, guanacos, and vicunas. Alpacas and vicunas are valued for their wool while llamas and guanacos are valued more as pack animals along with camels who are also valued for their milk. Alpaca are sheared once a year before summer and their fleeces are highly valued. The textile industry recognizes 22 colors of alpaca fibers, but there are many more blends created from those colors. Alpacas are shorn for their wonderful fleece once a year which amounts to 5 to 10 pounds of soft, warm fiber that is turned into the most luxurious garments in the world.

Betsy (being the zoo person) was diligent in reminding me not to get too close if they are mad because their response is to spit. And, their spit is the rumen juice from their stomachs – I can imagine this is a very unpleasant experience if you are within spitting range! I appreciated this advice since I usually just run up to animals, stick my hand out to pet, and experience the consequences (good or bad) later. Luckily for us all, Ricki’s alpacas were in good moods and well-behaved. We thoroughly enjoyed Ricki’s warmth and enthusiasm that she showed for her alpacas and new found career. I am sure she is just as gracious with all visitors, but it really gave us a feeling that this truly was a “warm and fuzzy” farm and just down the road.

The store.

Mother and baby.

We were amazed at the many coat patterns that were exhibited.
The farm was 16 spacious acres with lots of pasture for the herd.
One of the newest members to the herd.  We loved the eyebrows.

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