• The Alpaca Diaries

  • This is the website for Andersons Alpacas, breeders of fine suri and huacaya alpacas. Our breeding program is aimed at correct conformation, fleece uniformity, fineness and density, and easy temperament. Come spend some time with us and our animals and see how wonderful the alpaca lifestyle can be. Visitors are always welcome!

  • We are excited about sharing information and helping new people get started. Raising and breeding these wonderful animals is easier than you might think. We will help you every step of the way, so your investment will be profitable and enjoyable. We want your investment to be a success!

  • We hope the blog offers you a glimpse into the alpaca lifestyle. Scroll down the page to see the most recent posts. Click on Alpacas For Sale for the sales list, Categories to locate an article on specific topics, Archives to locate articles by month posted. Or click on Contact Us to initiate a conversation. We look forward to meeting you.

The First Annual Powhatan Festival of Fiber

Join Andersons Alpacas of Virginia and dozens of other Fiber Farmers and Artists as we celebrate the fiber producers and fiber artisans of the county and the surrounding region.

 We are bringing two of our Suri alpacas. We expect to bring Wolfberry, our very friendly Peruvian dam (pictured above kissing her cria, Sissy, through the fence), as well as Maggie, our unshorn maiden. We purposely left Maggie in her full fleece so that folks who come to the PFoF can see her in her suri magnificence. (Maggie will be shorn on May 11th at the My Manakin Market Shearing demonstration.)

 We will also bring our luxurious alpaca goods (socks, hats, gloves, fingerless gloves, baskets, trivets, shawls, etc.). We have an array of beautiful yarns, from named animals, hand-dyed yarns, and roving. Everything is for sale. We accept cash, checks, and credit cards.

 See you then!

 Powhatan’s Festival of Fiber

Saturday, April 27, 2013 – (Rain or Shine)

10:00am – 5:00pm

3920 Marion Harland Lane

Powhatan, VA 23139

Admission – $5.00

Children 12 and under free.

To celebrate and to share appreciation of the many fiber animals, fiber farmers and fiber artisans of the county and surrounding region.

Vendors, Delicious Food, Fiber Animals, Demonstrations, Hands-On Fiber Crafts, Door Prizes and MORE! PLEASE… NO PETS PERMITTED!!!

 

 

 

 

Release the Fleece: Shearing Day 2013

It’s hard to believe that another year has flown by and it is time to shear, again! Once again the Andersons and Deardens have hired Darren Kennedy and his trusty assistant, Kevin, to release the fleece!

Between the Andersons and Deardons, we had about 20 animals shorn (give or take). Ed Fincher of Suri Downs was on-site and assisted as well. Afterwards we all moved to his farm and helped shear 38 alpacas over there. The guys, with the help of an eager crew of assistants gave haircuts to our 20 in about 2 hours and Ed’s 38 in about 3 and 1/2 hours.

We all love how swiftly Darren is able to bring an animal down, shear it well, with very few second cuts, and get that animal back on its feet. Some of them squeal like some kids hate their baths. Most of them quietly submit and enjoy the cool after the fleece is released. For those that need a teeth trimming or a toenail clipping, we do that while they are down.

Signs of Spring

The spring season Fiber Festivals are fast approaching! Shearing day is booked! Several dams are due to deliver their cria! Grass management planning and activities are underway.

Our fiber has been transformed! We skirted the raw fleece and sent it to a local mill for processing. After a patient wait, that raw fleece has been masterfully processed into stunning yarn and roving. It is lustrous and soft. It even smells nice.

YARN: We have yarns from animals that we can name: Our medium-brown Johnny Fleece was blended with 20% bamboo for a unique, silky brown tweed; Habanero gave us a pretty, soft, light tan fleece which we mixed with 20% merino, it has a great hand and nice memory; Cervato’s yarn is a rich, VERY dark brown, which was also mixed with 20% merino. It has a gorgeous drape! Sold by the skein @ $22 for bamboo blend and $20 for merino blend.

All of our custom-spun, boutique yarns are 250 yards of 3 ply sportweight. We also have co-op yarn in natural colors as well as naturally hand-dyed yarn. You have to come see it and feel it!

ROVING: We have three large bags of roving. Medium brown from Johnny Fleece and two bags of a darker brown from his momma, Willow. Sold by weight @ $3 per ounce.

Toes To Clothes: A Rockville, VA Fiber Festival, Saturday, March 30, 10-4, Rockville Alpaca Farm, 11137 Rockville Road, VA

Powhatan Festival of Fiber, Saturday April 27, 3920 Marion Harland Lane, Powhatan, VA 23139,  Admission – $5.00, children 12 and under FREE

(Will upload pictures later… having technical issues right now… meanwhile check out the pix on FB page)

Welcome to Ice Boy & Gabriel

Two members of the Andersons’ Alpaca herd have live at their original farm since birth. We have agisted Ice Boy and Gabriel at New Trails Alpacas while we prepared the farm in Sandy Hook, Goochland to accommodate two more herdsires.

Last month, we were able to bring the big boys home to join the rest of the gang. Ice Boy and Gabriel share their own pasture adjacent to that of the juvenile and gelded males.

Ice Boy is a handsome award winning multi suri, almost 3 years old. Gabriel is a gorgeous mahogany brown suri. He has fathered many beautiful progeny. Welcome to Ice Boy & Gabriel.

Pictures coming soon.

From a Stormy Start to One in a Million

For four or so weeks, we observed Stormy nurse his mom and gain weight. Sometimes, he could hold his head up and walk like a normal alpaca. Other times, he looked like he suffered from “heavy head syndrome”, which is not a real malady, but it gives a good visual for how he comported himself most of the time. We kept our eye on him, hoping that he would turn a corner, get strong, run, pronk, and not stumble so much. He was doing OK, but he laid down a lot. We wanted to see more improvement for his sake.

Then, last Tuesday, Stormy looked especially weak. He walked up to Bob and put his head between Bob’s knees almost like he was looking for a drink. That day, the vet happened to be visiting the farm for a different reason. Bob asked the vet to check Stormy’s mother’s milk. Don’t you know, she was dry. Holy smokes… for how long… and now what… If it weren’t for Bob’s acuity, the little guy would have starved to death!

Back to bottle feeding. Three bottles day. For the next few months, this little guy needs almost the same amount of attention as a newborn baby human. But we live 24 miles away….

Bob started going to the farm everyday, again. We accepted the generosity of Lisa and Mr. Lee who fed Stormy some meals. But, Stormy wasn’t drinking very well for them. Now, we had to look at some hard facts.  It had  already cost us more to keep him alive than we might ever “get out of him”. And now we were looking at even more expense. Could we afford it? Some folks were gently, and as kindly as one can, suggesting euthanasia. A hard question, but one that farmers sometimes have to face. Stormy is, after all, livestock; as sweet as he is, he is not a family member. I’ll tell you what: after all that loving care so many of us gave to Stormy, he sure feels like more than mere livestock.

Bob and I looked at the whole picture: Stormy still showed signs of interest in life. His activity was lethargy mixed with good energy and alpaca-herd-like behavior. He showed an interest in eating. He drank good  bottles for Bob. Unfortunately, he requires daily care and, at this time in our remote-ownership situation, we could not provide that. We sought an adoptive home for him. We found an excellent prospect in Jennifer Downey, a full-time farmer and the owner of Night Sky Farm, a goat farm and grade A dairy. All references confirmed what I sensed in our telephone interview: this woman is Stormy’s new “mom”.  She is very experienced with small ruminants and has plenty of goats milk to feed Stormy.  He would still be a member of a herd – goats – nevertheless, a herd. Stormy might work out to serve as a guard animal for the goats. He would certainly provide Jennifer with beautiful fleece. Jennifer has the passion and the time for nursing Stormy to full health. She is his best chance.

Bob and Jennifer and I arranged to meet Saturday evening after the farmers markets we worked that day were closed. There, we transferred Stormy from our loving care to that of Jennifer. The sweetest thing happened when we arrived and lifted Stormy out of the car: as I held him, Jennifer came over and other female farmers flocked around and greeted Stormy, petting him and loving him with open hearts and cooing voices. It reminded me of how female alpacas gather round to smell and nuzzle and greet the new baby. Tim, the market manager, added his warm greeting as well.

As Bob and Jennifer exchanged all the pertinent technical health information and history, we took a few pictures, said farewell, and agreed to come to Night Sky Farm for a visit.

We have a new friend.

And Stormy has a new name. Jennifer’s daughter thought, “he doesn’t look like a ‘Stormy’; he looks like a ‘Maximilian'”. Jennifer said to me, “After all, he IS one in a million!”

It is clear, Stormy – I mean Maximilian- has a wonderful new home. Thank you, Jennifer.

Godspeed you on your way to full health, Max. See you soon.

A Learning Opportunity

It’s nice when everything “goes right”, but you don’t learn a thing!

We have had 5 cria born to us: Ice Boy, Johnny Fleece, Black Jack, Stormy, and Sissy. Four of the five births went swimmingly. Some days we were there to see an uneventful, smooth, normal birth. On the day of hurricane Sandy, however, we were lucky that Bob & Lisa were there to assist in a difficult birth. The cria malpresented and he wasn’t coming out. His head and one foot were out while the other was stuck at the fetlock. Bob gently pushed the cria’s head back in and inserted his little finger in just enough to turn the fetlock and ease the baby out. We named him “Stormy”. While we were unhappy for the dam’s trouble, we are grateful for the experience. We have 3 credits for having finished “Assisted Alpaca Birth 101”.

Then, the cria was weak and could hardly stand to nurse. Or hold his head up. Bottlefeeding began. We gave Stormy yummy goat milk colostrum

from the Dearden’s goat farm. The vet was at the farm several times, including a visit where she gave the little guy vitamin D and some plasma to help him gain strength. We (Bob and Lisa and James and myself) did everything humanly possible to teach this cria to nurse his momma. The momma knew her baby but wanted nothing to do with the humans who were so “rudely interfering”. It was a huge struggle to get her to stand while we assisted Stormy in finding her teat and latching on to nurse. All the while, Lisa milked the dam to keep her milk going and generously provided Stormy with goats milk after the colostrum period passed.  On day four, we used James’ rope climbing equipment to hoist the dam up and keep her standing while we “taught” Stormy that, though bottles and the people who feed them are nice,  this was his source: momma. Another alpaca farmer friend, came over and gave us lessons in tube feeding. Some folks advocate that over bottle feeding so that the alpaca does not bond with the human.

On day seven, he started nursing his mom on his own. We were so relieved and pleased. We live 24 miles away from the farm. The Deardens are four miles away. It was extremely taxing to fit all the extra hours into our busy lives. To say nothing of the physical exertion required to hold up the dam and the bending and twisting to see life from a nursing cria’s point of view. We rejoiced and rested when Stormy was able to nurse his mom on the seventh day. It was biblical. We completed a course in “Alpaca Neonatal Care 102”.

During weeks of life two through five, Stormy was out in the field, nursing and trying to grow stronger. He still looked weak, had trouble holding his

head up all the time, and he frequently stumbled. He couldn’t run or pronk as freely as the other cria on the farm. Other times he held his head up and looked as beautiful and regal as all the other healthy and happy alpaca. Since he appeared to be in pain, we pursued relief for him. We gave him banamine, an analgesic, in the early days of his life. Due to the side effects of prolonged use (stomach ulcers), we were cautious about giving too much. We followed the vet’s advice on banamine, closely. Apparent pain persisted. What next? A little eastern medicine was worth a go: acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Bob and Lisa carried Stormy over to the vet for a round of acupuncture treatment. Bob sat on the floor, held Stormy, while the vet gently inserted the needles in the selected locations.  Stormy, whose muscles were hard as rock, began to relax and he soon felt like a bag of rice in Bob’s arms. It was clear that the cria felt relief. The Chinese herbs are given twice a day. It is seeming to help. Stormy shows both lethargy and alpaca herd-like behavior. We are  praying for his further recovery. We consider ourselves enrolled in “Pain Management 103”.

It’s been a trial and it is not over.  The learning experience opportunity is immense. We are so grateful for the support of the Deardons, the Lees, Suri Downs, Fireweed Farm, and especially our vet, Melinda McCall.

Some sites that were helpful:

Gateway Farms New Cria Check Up; Alpaca Hacienda Neonatal Care

 

More of Stormy’s story to come later this week.

 

 

Welcome to the herd: “Stormy” Anderson and “Sissy” Anderson!

On Sunday afternoon, October 28, the day that Super Storm Sandy slammed the east coast, Bob assisted Cinderella in delivering a male cria. Baby’s fetlock was stuck and Bob gently eased it out facilitating his first alpaca birth. It was a rough start, but the cria is doing well, now. We agreed to call him “Stormy” (Anderson’s Stormy Weather will be his ARI name).

Bob delivers Stormy while Lisa holds and comforts Cinderella

Stormy standing up

On Wednesday morning, October 31st, Wolfberry delivered her female cria without any incident or fuss. It was perfect delivery; cria standing and nursing in a hour or two from birth. We are so please to receive this pretty, tan female into the family. “Sissy” is our first female cria born to us (we purchased the rest of our females).

Sissy, one day old

Proud Mama, Wolfberry, and day-old cria, Sissy

The rest of the alpacas took shelter under the barn during the days that Super Storm Sandy poured down on all of us. Thanks to the renovations to the barn floor by James and Lisa and Bob,  the inside of the barn stayed dry, all the water drained away as it should.

Alpacas weathering Super Storm Sandy

Water drains AWAY from the barn – Yes!

Bob spent most of 4 nights and 5 days at the barn, in the makeshift “maternity ward”, ensuring that Stormy, who was weak from the tough delivery, received enough nourishment via bottle feeding of Dearden’s goat’s milk. It was a chore, but Stormy eventually learned how to nurse his own mama.

Teaching Stormy to nurse

The “Maternity Ward” created to protect everyone from the storm.

Stormy and Sissy are faring well…

Wolfberry, Sissy, & Bob share a moment

Stormy nurses his mama

Alpacas Returning to West End Farmers Market!

Willow & Black-Jack at the market

We had a lovely day at the market last Saturday! The weather was beautiful and the alpacas were eating hay out of people’s hands. We are coming back to the West End Farmers Market with the alpacas this weekend!

Willow and her cria, Black-Jack, were our fleecy guests. Willow, a dark brown 6 year year-old female, is part of our “foundation” herd. She had given birth to 4 beautiful alpacas. We have two of her sons: Johnny Fleece (18 mos) and Black-Jack (6 mos).  This was Black-Jack’s first outing ever. He stayed close to mom most of the time, but was comfortable enough to step away now and then to eat hay from the hand of a friendly human. By the way, his fleece is truly black under the red-brown clay dust that clings to the surface of his fleece. You can see his ears are black and so are his feet.

This weekend, the weather promises to be beautiful, again. And we are bringing our alpacas back to the market. I can’t be sure who we will bring; it will depend on who is easiest for Bob to “catch” so early in the morn.

I ordered more socks and boot liners. I hope to have them in time for this weekend’s market. To those of you who have been looking forward to more socks, I will email you if they do come in.

Meanwhile, come out and stock up on alpaca gear. Winter is coming and so are the holidays. We accept, cash, “checks” and credit-card (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover). The market is in Richmond, Virginia, at the corner of Gayton Road & Ridgefield Parkway. See you there!

Market kids feeding the alpacas

Black Jack and Willow enjoying the Market

People & Alpacas enjoying one another

Friends feeding friends

Black Jack’s first day out

Black Jack munching on some hay

 

Having fun at the market!

The Alpacas Are Coming to the West End Farmers Market

Mattie, Prissy, and Maggie

We are bringing some of our alpacas to the West End Farmer’s Market, this Saturday, October 20! Come and meet the critters!

We will also have beautiful Peruvian hats, reversible mittens, boot-liners, fingerless gloves, and a glove/mitten mash-up called “glittens”. Maureen has crocheted more hats out of yarn from Cinderella and Killian. As usual, we have outdoor-socks, trouser socks, scarves, hats, trivets, and a beautiful laundry basket. We also have yarns in natural alpaca colors as well as hand-dyed yarn.

We make hand-sewn items such as Cash & Carry purses, minkee scarves, and table-runners for Halloween, Fall, and Christmas! We have some nice craft kits for those who like to knit from my new friend the “Lofty Lama”.

Prepare for the upcoming winter season, now. Be sure to make your holiday shopping list and visit us at the West End Farmer’s Market this Saturday (Corner of Gayton & Ridgefield), open from 8 am – noon.

We accept cash, check or credit cards.

 

 

We’re Going to the Fair – The Virginia State Fair

Andersons Alpacas is going to be at the State Fair this Saturday, October 6th, in Young MacDonald’s Barn. We will be sharing the alpaca corner with fellow Alpaca Farmers Wes & Gabby Gauvin of Upright Alpaca Farm*. Bob & I are doing a fleece skirting demonstration and the Gauvins are bringing some of their new alpacas. Both farms will be selling beautiful products made of alpaca fleece. Andersons Alpacas is happy to feature some new products: reversible mittens, glittens (fingerless gloves that convert into mittens), boot liners, and new, colorful chullo hats. We have more yarn, too! We look forward to seeing you there!

Next weekend, Andersons Alpacas will return to the West End Farmers Market, at the corner of Gaskins and Ridgefield. We will bring the new products and your old favorites, too!

Andersons Alpacas does accept credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover & American Express) as well as cash and check.

Reversible mittens

Glittens

Boot liners

Dutch chullo hat

Topper chullo hat

*Upright Alpaca Farm is the farm in Tappahannock many of you read about in the news several weeks ago. The entire alpaca community and folks from around the world are rallying to support them. For more info, visit their facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Upright-Alpaca-Farm-LLC/210887965597274?fref=ts

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