On Sept. 26 and 26, alpaca breeders from across the United States and Canada will invite the public to come to their farm or ranch to meet their alpacas and learn more about these inquisitive, unique animals.
Jan and Rich Fiorucci of Hummin’ Heavn Ranch will welcome guests from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to see Victor, Blanco, Thunder, Carina and Luna. They promise to give nose kisses, with no spitting!
Rich will explain about the alpacas, the ranch and how two retired teachers from the city ended up with these beautiful creatures.
Jan will discuss what happens to the fiber that is sheared each year and show you the end products.
Hummin’ Heavn Ranch is located 11 miles south of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 84. Turn right at mile marker 17 into Darci Place, then right again on Roberts Place to the end of the road, (about 20 minutes from Pagosa Springs.
Alpacas, cousins to the llama, are beautiful, intelligent animals native to the Andean Mountain I range of South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia and Chile. The United States first commercially imported alpacas in 1984. There are now over 160,000 ARl (Alpaca Registry, Inc.) registered alpacas in North America. There are two types of alpacas in the United States today. Although almost physically identical, what distinguishes the two types = is their fiber. The Huacaya (wa-Ki’ -ah) is the more common of the two and has a fluffy, extremely fine coat. The Suri is the rarer of the two and has fiber that resembles pencil-locks.
Adult alpacas stand at 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 softly humming.
Alpacas are shorn, without harm, every 12 to 18 months. They produced five to 10 pounds of luxurious fiber. Long ago, alpaca fiber was reserved for royalty. Today it is purchased in its raw fleece form by hand-spinners and fiber artists. Knitters buy it as yarn. Because of its soft texture, alpaca fiber is sometimes compared to cashmere. Making the fiber even more coveted, it has the luster of silk. Alpaca is just as warm as, yet 1/3 the weight of wool. It comes in 22 natural colors, yet can be dyed any desired shade. Containing no lanolin, alpaca fiber is also naturally hypoallergenic. Most people who are sensitive to wool find that they can wear alpaca without the itching or irritation they feel from wool because alpaca fiber is smooth. For travelers, clothing made from alpaca is desirable because it is wrinkle-resistant.
To find out more about National Alpaca Farm Days visit www.NationaIAlpacaFarmDays.com.