News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 19, 2013

Valley farms open for National Alpaca Farm Days


Special to the Tribune-Star

ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — Don and Jane Conner of Lookout Farm Alpacas are hosting a two-day open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 28 and from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 29. The event is a part of the Alpaca Farm Days in the United States and Canada.  

Visitors to the farm at 5665 E. Rosehill Ave. in northeastern Vigo County will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with alpacas.The Conners have been alpaca breeders since 2004 and currently have a herd of 20.

Alpacas are raised for their soft and luxurious fiber. Their fleece is often compared to cashmere and can be made into a wide array of products ranging from yarn and clothing to rugs and blankets.

Alpacas are members of the camelid family. There are two breed types of alpacas: Huacaya (wah-KI-ah) and Suri (SOO-ree). Huacayas account for about 90 percent of all alpacas, and have fluffy fleece that gives them a teddy bear-like appearance.

Adult alpacas stand approximately 36 inches at the withers and generally weigh between 150 and 200 pounds. They do not have horns, hooves, claws or incisors. Alpacas are alert, intelligent, curious and predictable. Social animals that seek companionship, they communicate most commonly by humming.

While alpacas are environmentally friendly, and even beneficial to the land, what makes them even more “green” is the fiber they produce. No chemicals are used either during feeding or during the industrial production of alpaca fleece into fiber. All fiber from an alpaca can be used and can be spun into yarn for knitting and weaving, or felted.

Alpacas are closely related to llamas, but they are much smaller in size and their fleece is much finer. Llamas are raised for pack animals or for guarding herds of sheep or alpacas. Alpacas are raised primarily for their fiber.

The United States first commercially imported alpacas in 1984. Today there are more than 160,000 registered alpacas in the United States with more than 100 farms in Indiana.

Visitors are invited to bring their cameras and take advantage of the photo opportunities. Alpacas are gentle and are safe with children.

Fiber artist John Salamone will be demonstrating weaving with alpaca yarn. His one-of-a-kind woven scarves and shawls with be displayed and for sale.

Also available will be knit products (hats, survival socks, gloves, mittens and shoe liners) from the New England Alpaca Fiber Coop and teddy bears and finger puppets from Peru, South America.  

Children will be given alpaca-shaped cookies and  an alpaca coloring project.

Two other area farms will also be open: Aris Farm of Clinton and White Violet Farm Alpacas on the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College campus.

All of the open house activities are free and open to the public. For more information about Lookout Farm Alpacas visit www.lookoutfarmalpacas.com or call 812-239-7698.