Sunday, November 18, 2012

Alpaca Open House excursion

Saturday was that special kind of late fall day that made you want to spend the day outside soaking up all the vitamin D-filled sunshine that you can. To stock up enough sunshine to get you through the next 4 months of winter. In short, it was the perfect day to visit an alpaca farm & store.
1Stop Alpaca Farm

My friend, Nancy Hutchison, owns and runs the 1StopAlpacaFarm in north Durham Region, Ontario. Her farm is home to over 60 alpacas. Yesterday she had an open house and tea party, and I jumped at the chance to go visit the alpacas.

Fishing out the dogs' ball from the pond.

My daughter and her friend were eager to go too. My daughter loves the sheep dogs that roam free on the farm and who are always eager to play ball or frisbee with visitors.


 The alpacas were very curious about all the visitors. And we were all curious about these beautiful creatures with the lovely, soft "fur".

Nancy's shop is chock-a-block with amazing alpaca goods: mittens, hats, scarves, shawls, sweaters, coats, natural soaps and deodorants. And of course, there are lovely alpaca batts for spinners and yarns for knitters, all sourced from the alpacas on the farm.

 This wasn't our first trip to Nancy's farm. In the spring she holds an open house during the alpaca shearing, complete with several vendors, refreshments, and jumping castle for the kids. Nancy uses the open house as a fundraiser for Hearth Place, in Oshawa.

Hearth Place provides support and resources for people living with and fighting cancer. The organization holds a special place in Nancy's heart, ever since she fought and won her own battle with cancer in recent years. Her shearing open house is always well attended. We've gone every year for the past 4 years.

This weekend, I noticed that the alpacas' coats were really getting thick again since the May shearing. There were also a few baby alpacas - called cria.

After spending some time listening to the alpaca's gentle chattering and mewling, I headed into the store for a browse. After debating and inspecting all the beautiful items on sale, I settled on a pair of alpaca mittens. Yes, I could knit my own pair, but I like supporting local businesses, and honestly, I'm not that crazy about knitting mittens - the finger part is so fiddly.

Nancy also cleverly packaged up some yummy alpaca batts as "Fibre Blizzards", complete with straw. A couple of those may have followed me home too. The cups are deceptively small. At home I opened up my first "Blizzard" and unpacked a huge batt of soft fibre. I couldn't believe it had all fit into the cup!

The "Blizzard" is made of alpaca fibre blended with recycled sari silk, which adds a fun bit of colour to the white alpaca wool. I'm going to have fun playing with spinning this up.

I guess you could say that I'm not 'sari' I brought it home.

The farm's slogan.

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