Monday, April 15, 2013

A visit to the Towner Alpaca Farm

This was our spot to stay --in the driveway of the Towners who are one of the Harvest Hosts.  We met the organizers of Harvest Hosts in Quartzsite. We had already heard good things online and from other campers.

The idea is that , for $40 for 12 months, we can call ahead to one of over 437 Harvest Hosts who are located in all 48 of the lower 48 states.  The host will provide a free campsite on their farm--- we must be totally self contained.

We then are able to see what happens on the farm.  50% of the hosts are wineries, and 50% are farms and other agricultural stops.  Many to most of the hosts have products for sale-----vegetables, wines, maple syrup, fruits, yarn and other fiber products, dairy, and often cheeses and bakery products( think apple orchards with apple pie, apple crisp, apple butter, and dried apples.)

The Towners are an extended family, quite friendly all around, who operate the Towner Alpaca Farm in Socorro, New Mexico.  Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them.

This was our view from our site

This is Tootsie Roll, one of 22 Alpacas on the farm.  We found out the day before we arrived that the shearer was coming from Colorado the next day to shear all of the Alpacas.  We were in for a treat. This only happens once a year.

We found out all kinds of interesting things.  Most of the females were pregnant.  One female was actually overdue.  The gestation period for alpacas is 11 and a half months.
It was difficult to get pictures of the faces. They always turn away from you.  But this picture gives you an idea of the natural colors of the fleece.
This shows how thick some of the coats are before shearing

Dave, the owner of the Alpacas, is showing us how thick the coat can be.

The shearer, from Colorado, was quite entertaining. He brought his son and the table with him as well as lots of clippers and other gear.  The table is quite fascinating . It allows them to bring in the Alpaca--standing--against the table , which is on its side.  A soft top is snugged up to the animal and the table is rotated to the above position.  The legs are clinched and stretched to keep the animals still and avoid injury--to the animal and the workers.  The shearer has trimmed a patch from the front leg up to the neck. Then , he cuts a path along the belly to the back legs.  Once that is done, he neatly begins to trim a "blanket"all the way up the side.  The barrels are used to separate the side fleece, the neck, and the legs.  They represent three different lengths of fleece.

The fleece is so soft , it almost seems like air!
The Alpacas look quite different after the shearing.  Kind of gives you a new appreciation of the term
"being fleeced"  The gentleman above was the grandfather.  He used to be a cattle farmer and we had some great conversations during the day.   He talked about how many acres it takes in New Mexico to grow one head of beef cattle(hundreds--it's mostly desert) . Also how large the farms are( hundreds of thousands of acres---each!!)

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just found your blog through Jimbo's. Look forward to following along and hope to see you somewhere down the road.