Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Our Trip to Lavender Hill Alpaca Farm

We had the opportunity to go and check out an alpaca farm this month and we had an amazing time!  The mother daughter duo who run the farm and store are wonderful and were so super sweet with the kids.  

We learned so much and might have found a new hobby too!

Upon arriving we went right to the fenced areas that hold the male and female alpacas.  Once the whole group was assembled we learned about alpacas, the history of alpacas in the United States, and our host was more than happy to answer all the questions the kids asked. 


We soon learned that all of the alpacas have their own personalities too!  Some were quite shy and stayed far back from the fence while others walked right up to us.  One even gave out little alpaca kisses, nuzzling his soft nose against the forehead or cheeks of some of the kids.  



We learned that alpacas are part of the same family as camels and llamas called the camelid family.  While camels and llamas are often used as pack animals or for riding, alpacas are raised for their wool.  It's soft, just as warm was wool and hypoallergenic.

They originate from the Andes Mountains and have only been in the United States since the 1980's.  They sounded like they were pretty easy to take care of and come already potty trained.  I know that sounds funny but alpacas do go to the bathroom in one spot.  They are herd animals and the whole herd uses that same spot.

The animals are sheared once a year and we were there exactly one month from the day they would be sheared so their coats were pretty full.  We got to see some before and after photos and I must say they look so gangly after they are shorn.

This farm had adult alpacas only since they had reached capacity and have no room for babies but we did learn that the gestation period is 11 months.


The kids were given some hay and were allowed to feed the animals.  They mainly eat grass and hay and will eat some grain.





We learned that alpacas only have teeth on the bottom jaw and grind those teeth against the top palette to keep them from growing too long.

Alpacas come in a wide range of colors.  The most popular color is white but they come in just about any shade from white to black and even shades of brown.  The white fur is easily dyed into a rainbow of other colors.



The farm also had a couple horses and chickens that the children were just as interested in.





Once the kids had enough of feeding the animals we went into the shop to see what goods they had available.  There were all sorts of cuddly stuffed animals, sweaters, hats, mittens, yarn, and more.


We were given a demonstration on how they turn alpaca fibers into yarn.   From one blanket (the sides and back of an alpaca) they can get 32 skeins of yarn.  Most of the time they send the fiber out to a factory to be washed, dyed, spun and made into yarn but they do process some of it themselves.


From the fibers they first run them through a carding machine.


Once carded they are left with a blanket of fibers that look like this (these have been dyed pink).


They break off small strips of fiber and pull it through these cards.


From there they put the strips through a spinning wheel. 



A completed skein of factory made yarn.  


The kids were then introduced to weaving and anyone who was interested was able to work on a weaving project.



Alec loved it!  He had so many questions and ideas.  He did stop and give other children a turn but once everyone had tired of weaving he sat right back down to ask more questions and try out new techniques.





There were some really wonderful weavings on display too. 

I LOVED this with all the shades of blue, green, and purple
So many of the hangings had interesting textures to them and it was continually emphasized that there were no mistakes in this type of weaving.  It looked quite relaxing!


Alec was inside weaving so long that everyone else wandered back outside to see the animals.


Alec wondered what would happen if they combined two of the strings they were using weaving so they decided to see what it would look like.  He then wove back and forth a few times with the new yarn they had made and everyone agreed it was quite lovely.


We did not have time to finish the whole strip of fabric but the woman promised to finish it for them and mail it to our group to put on display in our co-op classroom.

Did I mention that this was a FREE field trip?!  Yep!  They did all of this for us for free.

We did learn that Lavender Hill is offering weaving classes, starting to offer children's parties, and even mom's night out opportunities.  I'm sure we'll be back again.

Linking Up With:

Oh My Heartsie Girls WW 650 x 635

JENerally Informed

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WW Hostesses 3-18


6 comments :

  1. I love alpacas, they are so cute! I have knit with alpaca yarn and it's so soft. I'm kind of allergic though so I stopped buying it!

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    1. I bought a beautiful double sided wrap for myself that I just could not resist. I'm surprised you had problems working with it; we were told it's hypoallergenic.

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  2. I love watching them make the yarn and weaves. That's sooo cool.

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  3. Oh my goodness, we went last week! Your farm visit was at a bigger nicer farm but I shared ours at http://nanahood.com/alpaca-farm-visit Aren't they interesting? Hope you Didn't get spit on! Teresa

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    1. Thankfully we were not spit on though that was one of the first questions one of the kids asked. We were assured that while they do spit they really only spit at one another so it wasn't likely any person would get spit on.

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