I can’t believe summer is over, but here we are on the heals of fall. I am gearing up for my season at Rice’s Market in New Hope, PA. I will be setting up a stand there from October 18th – December 30th. Rice’s is open every Tuesday and Saturday from 7am – 1pm. At this market you will find hundreds of vendors selling a wide variety of items. Many vendors, like me, make the items they sell.
You can buy everything I sell online – alpaca socks, alpaca scarves, alpaca yarn, alpaca filled pet beds, alpaca themed jewelry, felted alpaca soap, alpaca fingerless gloves, alpaca beanie hats, plus much more. Please stop in to see all that alpaca can offer.
Visit Rice’s Market for more information on hours and location.
Can’t make it to Rice’s? No problem. Shop online at Positively Alpaca.
Custom orders are also always welcome. Feel free to email me at:
I now love crabgrass! No, really I do. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it is true.
I have two paddocks where my alpacas spend most of their time and I can’t get grass to grow in there. We tried, but to no avail. With animals always eating and walking on it, the grass just doesn’t stand a chance. Then I remembered that I heard how great crabgrass is for alpacas and your pasture at a seminar years ago. First I thought I would try to get some crabgrass seed, but that was both funny and expensive. When I asked my local feed store, they laughed at me, as I suspected that they would. I mean who purposely plants crabgrass? Usually it is hated and people try everything to get rid of it and here I am asking for seed. Once we stopped laughing about the irony of it, they told me they don’t carry it. So I went to the internet of course and I found seed, but can you guess how much it was? A fifty pound bag was $500!!! Whoa – I thought nobody wanted this stuff? Apparently I was wrong. I mean if you Google crabgrass, from the third hit on, all of the information about crabgrass is how to kill it!
However, it is highly recommended for pastures since it grows well under difficult situations. It is also very tolerant of being eaten low to the ground. Well, needless to say, I was not about to shell out $500 for something we all want to get rid of. That’s when it hit me – I have a vegetable garden that just so happened to have lots of crabgrass growing in it that I did not want there, but I DID want it in my pasture. So what do you suppose came next? – Yup, you got it, I transplanted crabgrass. I never thought I would be doing that.
I started with a small section in the boys pasture to see how it does. This is funny too, because as I was prepping the area with moveable gates so they couldn’t eat it until it had a chance to root, they went after the bucket of soon to be transplanted grass. Well, at least I know they like it! Now I have to wait a few weeks and see if my plan works. If it does, you know what I will be doing for months to come – transplanting crabgrass!
Who wants to hear more about poo? I do, I do.
This time of year poo is on my mind since many gardeners like to have it to enhance their garden. So since that is the case, I make it available for anyone in my community that would like to have some.
One of the nice things about alpaca poo is that it is not as yucky (very technical term) as most manure. Alpacas poo in “beans” as they are affectionately called or otherwise called pellets. This results in easy to work with, low odor manure for your garden.
A lot of farms offer manure, but I try to make it more user-friendly by drying it before I bag it. This extra step helps to control breakdown of the manure. Once the pellets are dry they do not get mushy. This makes it very easy to spread and also cuts back even further on any odor.
Alpaca manure can be used on any kind of garden – vegetable or flower. And one of the best parts of alpaca manure is that you don’t have to compost it first. If you are new to the manure world – most, if not all, other manure needs time to compost before it is safe for your plants. If you were to put fresh cow or horse manure around a plant in the garden, it would get burned by the high levels of nitrogen. Happily alpaca manure is lower in nitrogen, so you can put it on anytime. Some like to till it in the soil before planting, while others prefer to put in on top of the soil after planting. Either way, your plants will thrive! This applies to the time of year as well. When you use cow or horse manure you are almost forced into fall usage since it will need some months to settle before you can safely plant, but if you are like me, you are just about sick of working in the garden by then. I prefer to clean it up and forget about it until the spring. So if you are like me, you can prep the garden and then immediately plant in the spring. Convenient, right?
So that is alpaca poo in a nutshell. Please feel free to ask questions or even stop by your local alpaca farm to get some of this wonderful poo!
So what is in a breeding? Well to start with – knowing what kind of offspring you desire is first and foremost. What kind of qualities would you like your cria (baby alpaca) to have? Then you need to look at your female and decide what she’s already bringing to the table. Does she have nice confirmation, but maybe not great fiber? Then you fill in the desirous qualities through the male, like nice fiber. Once you have a pair picked – you just need to set up a date 😉
Now for the tougher part – pairing up two alpacas the old-fashioned way. Since alpacas are induced ovulators, artificial insemination is not an option. Alpacas must mate to successfully breed. fortunately alpacas are easy to read in the sense that the males always want to mate and the females make it clear if they are interested or not. If possible, create a small section of pasture where you can have the female in an enclosed area and bring the male to her. Once the two have checked each other out, the male will attempt to mount the female. You may need to encourage the female to cush (lay down). If she refuses, you may have to wait and try again another day. There is no advantage to forcing a breeding session. If it doesn’t work, don’t overly stress your animals.
If the breeding does occur then allow about 15-20 minutes of active breeding. Males make “orgling” noises while breeding that will get less intense and perhaps stop once he is done breeding. The female will also likely start to move like she is ready to get up.
Now that the breeding is done, return the animals to their respective pastures and try to allow for a relaxing day for the female. Don’t schedule any herd health or attempt to handle her if at all possible. She will ovulate in the next 24-48 hours and it is helpful if she is not stressed during that time.
After seven days has passed you can behavior check your female to see if the breeding was successful. Bring the male to your female as before, but this time you are hoping that she won’t cush and she “spits off”. This will indicate that she is most likely pregnant. Then in thirty days an ultrasound can be done to verify pregnancy.
They’re here…They’re finally here!!!
Positively Alpaca’s Very Own Alpaca Socks Have Arrived
Our socks are not only soft and comfy, as you would expect, but now they are from our very own black alpacas.
Where did the fiber come from?
In May all of the alpacas were shorn and then the fiber went off to the mill. The mill is in Halifax, PA and just a few short weeks later we had sock yarn. Then that sock yarn went to the sock mill in Chalfont, PA. See the pattern yet? From start to finish these socks were raised and produced in the state of Pennsylvania. It just doesn’t get much more local than that.
What are the socks like?
The socks are black heavyweight crew socks designed for men or women. Available in sizes small, medium and large. They are a blend of 65% alpaca and 35% merino wool. Don’t let the percent of alpaca fool you though. They are super soft and luxurious. Adding some merino wool helps to prolong the life of the socks, giving you more wear time.
What is the goal with these socks?
As with any business, the goal is to please the customers. Many customers have been asking for these socks and now that it is possible, I made it happen. The goal is to try them out this year and then depending on the response, I plan on getting more made next year. I would like to expand the color choices as well. So since this is trial run, I only have 25 pairs available this year. Which means, once they are gone, that is it until next year.
Where do the profits go?
Profits made are used to further care for the alpacas. Everyday they need food, shelter and healthcare. Every dollar made at Positively Alpaca goes back to the alpacas. Yes that’s right, the alpacas get it all. What do I get? Their love.
Where can you buy them?
Please feel free to call, email, or even seen me at Rice’s Market to check these socks out. The introductory price is $35.00.
POSITIVELY ALPACA FARM, LLC.
436 Maple Grove Road
Mohnton, PA 19540
[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]
Our oldest girl, Belinda, was having a bad morning. She was obviously in pain. Laying on the ground, not eating, and she seemed to be limping. Not a good way for anyone to start their day – for her or me 🙂 I watched her for a while, tried to give her some grain, and then I decided I needed help. I called everyone I could think of that may be able to help me figure out might be wrong with her. No one answered my calls even though it was 8am. I started to worry. She seemed soooo uncomfortable. Was it her leg? Did I hurt her during routine shots the day before? She’s 11 years old so it could be a bad hip or leg. After an agonizing 45 minutes, I got a call back from the vet. She was only 20 minutes away so she said she could be right over. I was glad to meet her for the first time and get to know her a bit. She was very good and gave Belinda a full exam. Her assessment was that Belinda had a bad reaction to the routine dewormer. Perhaps because of her age and maybe from a presence of parasites. Apparently the dewormer can make them have some intestinal discomfort if it is flushing out parasites. Thus why she was laying on the ground trying to get more comfortable. A shot of pain reliever/anti-inflammatory did the trick. Within 10 minutes Belinda was eating and visibly happier. Going forward I have the medicine on hand in case a similar issue arises.
What a relief!! I was so glad that this encounter turned out to be a simple fix, a chance to meet my vet and not a huge bill. Good all around. Now I am armed with more knowledge. Every time I deal with my animals’ health I get the opportunity to learn more about them. I feel closer to them and I feel like I know them better.
In a word – YES. And it isn’t necessarily why you might think. They don’t really enjoy being wet, which is totally understandable, but I think my alpacas get bored. Kind of like a kid. They are stuck inside with nothing to do and sometimes they even seem a bit pissy because they have been stuck with each other all day, or worse days! Since they want to stay dry, they stay in and just lay around. Not that that they do much else on any other day mind you, but when the shelter is only big enough to house them, it doesn’t lend for much room for personal space. Just imagine how you get when you are stuck inside the house for days during a snow storm with little to do and your family members are bored too. The walls get really small sometimes, right? Well, my alpacas get like that too. The girls act like they are on each other’s nerves and can’t wait for the weather to break so they can go outside and have some space to themselves. They will spit at each other kind of randomly it seems. “Hey, get out of my face! Your butt stinks.” Or, “Why do you keep getting so close to me? Did you see that? She’s in my spot!” Sometimes they will even chance getting wet just to get a break from each other. Even if that means laying in the mud. Apparently that’s better than putting up with each other sometimes. The really funny part about the whole thing is, just like us and our family that drives us nuts, they are quick to forget the annoyance. The sun comes out and they lay next to each other and enjoy the company again.
I suppose all of this is just my observation of their behavior and it could way off base, but that’s how I see it. I often have been accused of giving my animals “words”. Never thought about it that way, but I guess that’s not normal. Do you give your animals words?
I have nine alpacas – seven girls and two boys. The girls are as follows:
Apple of My Eye
Bella of the Ball
Now some of these alpacas were not named by me, but regardless they all seem to fit their names. For example, Angel Dust is just as sweet as can be. She is the kind of alpaca that you can even give her a shot and she will stand still for you. She is just an angel!
Then we have Amore – she certainly lives up to her name as well. She is so docile. She will cush (lay down) for you and you could pet her all day long. A true sweetheart.
Now some alpacas have names that were given more with their color in mind. Like Butterscotch Krimpet, she has that kind of coloring in her fiber. Even still, she is sweet like her name.
And here’s one for you – Belinda. That name may invoke an image of a strong or tough girl. Well, that’s our Belinda. She is VERY strong and feisty, especially when she is pregnant. Even though she is our oldest girl, she is still the toughest.
Annie, well she doesn’t seem to have anything in her personality per se that is tied to her name, but when she was born she had cute freckles on her nose so my mom named her Annie.
Apple of My Eye seems to me she is still developing her personality. She used to seem stand offish, but now she is becoming more like her mother, Amore. And she is still very close to her mom so I guess that makes her the apple of Amore’s eye too!
Then last but not least for the girls is Bella of the Ball. Although she is not full grown yet, she is coming into her own. She loves to “dance”. When it comes time to get hosed down because of the heat, she leaps in the air on her back legs so I can spray her belly and she kind of dances for me.
On to the boys – Awesomeness’s name is kinda of ironic. He has awesome fiber, but not so awesome in the sense that he won’t be used for breeding purposes. Poor thing only has one testicle 🙁 That’s ok though because he makes up for it in fiber. He has beautiful white fiber. Simply lovely. We just don’t talk about the other thing!
Q is our teddy bear. He is a lover and hopefully he will get to prove that to one of our girls next year. We named him after Q from Mission Impossible. He doesn’t invent cool gadgets but he is curious and since he is true black, he can be stealthy. Try to find a black alpaca in the dark!
Whew, that was a lot of info on our herd. I hope you like this little sum up of everyone’s name and how that relates to them as individuals. Now if only I could get them to keep their name tags on! That’s a story for another day.
Every day starts about the same…
Hook up the drinking water hose and head on down to the alpaca pasture. Get some hay for the boys and the girls, about a quarter of a bail for the morning feeding total. The boys of course follow me to where the hay is stored. They’re very anxious to get their first little nibble of hay. Usually it doesn’t even get into my hands before Q grabs the first bite. So I proceed to give the boys their share and take the remainder of what’s in my hands over to the girls. Their reaction is much the same as the boys. They like to see who can get the first bite and with seven girls that can be fun to watch. It reminds me of a mob of women at a clearance sale. Do you have that vision in your head? LOL
Once everyone has their hay I go over to check their water. Twice every day they must have their water checked and cleaned if necessary. It is very important that they have enough clean water for the day. Each alpaca drinks less than a gallon of water but I make sure they have at least that much just in case. You may have noticed that I said the first thing I do is hook up the drinking hose in the morning and that’s because I don’t have running water down to the pasture yet. In the meantime I am using hoses that are safe for drinking water. The same kind that you would use with a RV hook up. Using this kind of hose insures that they don’t get lead in their drinking water. And also this kind of hose helps to deter a bacteria buildup as well. After everyone has their hay and their water is good to go for the day, that’s about it for the morning. When it all goes well and smooth it only takes about fifteen minutes.
Now on to the afternoon… The routine is much the same as the morning with the exception of feeding the alpacas their grain. The alpacas absolutely LOVE their grain. I can’t emphasize that enough. When they see that bag of grain in my hand, oh my you just have to see it to believe it. They know I have it and they really want it! They will follow me wherever I go when that grain is in my hand. The grain is like a vitamin supplement for them but in addition to that it’s also very tasty, kind of like a granola bar. So they really look forward to this every afternoon. Everybody gets to have about one cup of grain and then they get the next round of hay.
Now ya know what a day at the alpaca farm entails. Twice a day I get to spend about 15-20 minutes feeding and caring for my babies. And just like human parents that never stop viewing their children as their babies, that’s I feel about my alpacas. They will always be my babies no matter how old they get. And even when they get sold to another farm, they will always hold a place in my heart.
Ok, so I thought that I needed to start fresh with this blog. I originally wanted to have some kind of sequence of events or some kind of chronological order to how I approached this, but all that did was stump me. Now, I have decided to handle this blog in a similar fashion to how I post on Facebook – Give you regular updates on what happens at the farm, up coming events, or just little tid bits that may help you to learn more about alpacas in general.
How does that sound to you? I hope you like that idea.
Now for the first bit I’d like to share today:
We have two male alpacas, Q and Awesomeness. I LOVE these guys! They are so cute and well behaved. Nothing like our seven girls. Well, the other day I noticed that Awesome (what we call him) had files gathering on a small spot of his fiber near his neck. After a closer look, it appeared to be a wound. I rallied my official alpaca catcher, aka the hubby, for a closer evaluation. Sure enough Awesome had two small puncture holes in his skin that had gotten infected and the flies were making a nest out of it. Yuck, I know! Anyhow, I rinsed it thoroughly with water, rubbed it with alcohol and then packed it with antibiotic ointment. At this point it was a little swollen and pussy, ewww again. Awesome was very good about the whole thing.
I then let it go for a day to see how it might do on its own. Well the puss did not all come out on the first try, but we got it all on the 3rd day. It also looked like the swelling had gone down. We repeated the cleaning process and waited another day.
By the 4th day, the area seemed dry and on its way to complete healing. Yey, a healthy alpaca again!
The take away on all of this is that alpacas are tougher than we might think sometimes. Even when a wound looks bad as long as you treat it well and keep an eye on it, the odds are it will heal fine. We just need to remember that animals often times heal much better than we do because they don’t worry about it. We get a cut and if it gets infected we might even panic about it, but alpacas are calm and trust us to take good care of them so they don’t fret about it. And when things are more complicated, they let us know. If I ever see an alpaca that’s not hungry come feeding time – there is NO doubt something’s up!