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Alpaca Farm Days looming

Alpaca Farm Days looming

Maureen Macedo pets an alpaca at Macedo's Mini Acre on Wednesday. The farm will participate in National Alpaca Farm Days on Sept. 26 and 27, where visitors can pet, feed, and take pictures with the...


POSTED September 18, 2009 11:45 p.m.
Alpaca farmers around the central valley are tidying up their ranches, dusting off their spinning looms, and getting their animals photo-ready for National Alpaca Farm Days.
This annual two-day event is every Alpaca owner's chance to share their animals and alpaca fiber products with the public. National Alpaca Farm Days will be on September 26 and 27 this year, and several alpaca farms and ranches in the Turlock area will participate in the event.
Cookie Cutter Alpacas and Fiber Studio in Turlock will host an Alpaca Farm Days event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 27. The ranch has about 65 alpacas, all of the fluffy Huacaya breed. Alice Lessard, who works with the alpacas at Cookie Cutter Alpacas and Fiber Studio, said that a few of the animals are kept just as pets. The rest are kept for breeding and all are sheared once a year for their fiber. About 50 of the alpacas will be available for visitors to touch and take pictures with.
“The kids love it because they can feed the alpacas,” Lessard said.
Cookie Cutter Fiber Studio will offer tours and demonstrations of how fiber is turned from raw product into yarn, and then made into clothing and rugs on the studio’s spinning wheel and looms. They will also raffle off several of the alpaca products made at the studio.
Jeanette Mathews works in the fiber studio and makes hats, scarves, and other clothing items out of alpaca fiber. She said that alpaca fiber, which can be made into yarn and felt, is warmer than traditional wool. It is also about 1/3 the weight, water resistant, and fire retardant. Alpacas are sheared once a year and produce from 5 to 10 pounds of fiber each.
“There is a big market for alpaca fiber right now,” Mathews said.
Both Mathews and Lessard are starting a 4-H alpaca club through Hilmar Colony 4-H. Lessard said that alpacas are a great 4-H project because they are not killed at the end of the project. Alpacas are raised for their fiber and for breeding, and not for meat.
This is the second year that Cookie Cutter Alpacas and Fiber Studio has participated in Alpaca Farm Days. Last year they had about 100 visitors to the ranch, and this year they expect at least twice that number. Lessard said that she expects to see a lot of last year’s visitors again.
Maureen Macedo, owner of Macedo’s Mini Acre, said that the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) organized National Alpaca Farm Days to educate the public about alpacas. Macedo said that the United States did not start commercially importing Alpacas until 1984; before that they were only found in Zoos.
“We want to promote the alpacas and make sure people know how great of a livestock animal they are,” Macedo said.
Macedo bought her first alpacas when her daughter, an avid knitter tired of purchasing expensive alpaca yarn, asked her to buy an animal for the wool. Macedo and her daughter went a few weeks later to an Alpaca ranch to pick out their first animals.
“She said ‘I want to make a sweater out of that one and that one,’” Macedo said.
Macedo’s Mini Acre will offer spinning, carding, felting and knitting demonstrations and art projects for kids from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27. Products made from alpaca fiber will also be on display. Damocles Farm, which is next door to Macedo Mini Acre, has several Suri alpacas that will be viewable from Macedo Mini Acre on Alpaca Farm Days. Suri alpacas have long fleece, which resembles dreadlocks.
Macedo Mini Acres is located at 17405 Letteau Avenue in Delhi. Cookie Cutter Alpacas and Fiber Studio is at 733 South Johnson Road, Turlock. For a full list of Alpaca farms and ranches that are participating in the event, visit www.nationalalpacafarmdays.com.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.
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