• 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.

This Week at the West End Farmers Market from Andersons Alpacas

Just in!

Low profile ankle socks: Enjoy alpaca socks year round, inside or out! This no-show stylish design has an alpaca terry loop knit sole for extra cushion. Reinforced Heel, Toe, and Arch-band for a proper fit. Hypo-allergenic, un-dyed, and odor resistant.

Gloves: now in size small as well medium and large! Our mid-weight alpaca gloves will keep your hands warm during a wide range of outdoor activities. Alpaca’s natural characteristics, its semi-hollow core and moisture wicking properties, make it a great fit for gloves.

Diabetic Socks: This light-weight alpaca sock is designed to meet all the needs of a diabetic. The top part of the sock is made with a non restrictive knit to help circulation issues while staying up on the calf throughout the day. The sole of the foot is terry looped for comfort and warmth. Reinforced Heel, Toe, and Arch-band for a proper fit. Hypo-allergenic, un-dyed, and odor resistant.

As usual, we have outdoor socks, trouser socks, fingerless gloves, scarves, hats, trivets, and a beautiful laundry basket. We also have yarns in natural colors as well as naturally hand-dyed yarn. We use other fibers for making hand-sewn items such as Cash & Carry purses, minkee scarves, and table runners for Halloween, Fall, and Christmas!  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. We accept cash, check or credit cards.            


Ankle Sock


Alpaca Gloves


Diabetic Socks

To Market, To Market

Our farmers market season begins this weekend! We will be at the West End Farmers Market on Saturday mornings this fall from 8am through noon. The market is located at 12450 Gayton Road, (Intersection of Gayton Road & Ridgefield Parkway).

We send our fleece to the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative as well as to a local mill. We have high quality goods made with luxurious alpaca fleece: socks, gloves, fingerless gloves, mittens, scarves, hats, weed-blocking garden cloth, trivets, and a beautiful laundry basket. We also have yarns in natural colors as well as naturally hand-dyed yarn. We use other fibers for making hand-sewn items such as purses and table runners for Halloween, Fall, and Christmas!  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. We accept cash, check or credit cards.

See you there!



Mattie, Prissy, and Maggie

Double Knit Headband

Andersons Alpacas of Goochland, Virginia is a family-owned enterprise that markets alpaca products and alpacas for breeding. We enjoy these friendly, gentle animals who produce the most beautiful and desirable fleece under the sun. Frequently compared to cashmere, the unique qualities of alpaca fleece place it in a class of its own. Warmer and stronger than wool, alpaca fiber is hollow, making it very light with remarkable insulating and wicking qualities.

Been Busy Breeding

After spring shearing and birthing, the next alpaca farm activity is breeding. This spring and early summer, we have been busy breeding our open mature females. At the moment, we have three females for whom we are making breeding decisions: “is she ready”, “which herdsire”, and “which breeding system”. Today, I will address the readiness decision.

A female alpaca may fully mature (physically and mentally) between 12 and 24 months. It is not advisable to allow a young female to be bred until she is mature. Though over-breeding a young female, before conception is possible, it is a common cause of uterine infections. As the age of maturation varies greatly between individuals, it is usually recommended that novice breeders wait until females are 18 months of age or older before initiating breeding.

Mattie Mae is a maiden who is two years-old. She has shown some interest in the males who live in the “boys camp” on the other side of the fence. This flirtiness is an indicator that the female may be ready. Additionally, she is physically large and seems able to handle carrying and delivering a cria.

Maiden Mattie Mae

Bob is very attentive to the capacity of the female to deliver a baby. He has seen and assisted in a number of emergency birthing situations that occurred on his dad’s cattle farm. Thus, physical capacity supersedes age and flirtiness as criteria for breeding a maiden in Bob’s “book”.  We intentionally waited a half year to breed one of our smaller females for this very reason. So, we exposed Mattie to a male under our supervision to see what happened. She readily accepted him.

The other two, Willow & Priscilla, are proven moms. Prissy has been open for almost a year. Willow delivered Black Jack in the spring. We acquired Prissy late last fall and decided to wait until Spring to breed her. Willow has been a great and healthy mom having delivered four healthy cria in her lifetime. She successfully delivered two cria for us the past two springs. We like spring births in our Virginia climate, for the cria’s sake. Given the 11 ½ month gestation period, that means breed in June for a May birth.


Willow, Mom of Black Jack


Prissy, Mom of Maggie

All three females “seem” pregnant. We have had some early ultrasounds that look promising. We are trying our best to keep them cool and unstressed during the extreme heat this summer. We will ultrasound them again at 60 days to see if they have held their pregnancies.

Stay tuned for the next blogs on herdsires and breeding systems.

Shearing Atlas and Showering Salty Dog and Friends

Atlas undergoes his shearing


Showers of cool, cool water

Yesterday, was shearing day on the farm. I have posted video of the shearing by Darrin & Andrew to You Tube. Atlas is the alpaca submitting to the haircut. He seems to fall asleep or go into some kind of deep relaxation during the process. When it is over, he has to be nudged and shaken before he realizes that it is time to get up. Most of them hop up right away and scamper off.  The sound you hear in the background is Bob & James, off camera, preparing another animal to be shorn next. They are blowing his fleece with a leaf blower to remove as much dirt and vegetation as possible before shearing. This saves us some work during the skirting process. Click on this link or the picture on the left to view the shearing.

It was a pretty hot day. The video on the right shows James spraying the hose on a few animals who seem to be thinking, “Wow! Two great ideas in one day. We get to lose the long hair and run in the water spray!”  Click on this link or the picture on the right  to view the shower.  Enjoy the videos!

Shearing Day 2012

Andersons Alpacas teamed up with our farming partners, James and Lisa Deardon, for the annual chore/event of shearing the alpacas. We had 15 animals on site to be shorn. We employed the services of Darrin and Andrew, the shearing team from New Zealand.  These fellows are expert at their craft! They handle the animals gently. They shear them efficiently in approximately 8 minutes per animal.

Andrew and Darrin, The New Zealanders

James and Lisa Haltering Atlas

Leading Atlas

We set up two shearing stations. While one animal is being shorn, the next is being readied. We prepare the animals by using a wire fleece cleaner tool to brush down their sides. We also aim a leaf blower on them to blow out as much sand and dirt as possible. Dirt is very tough on the shearing blades. This spares some wear on the blades as well as some unnecessary weight on the shorn fleece.

Wire brush away the vegetation (upper right)

Leaf blowing the dirt away

Johnny Fleece awaits his turn

We group the animals by gender to prevent an unplanned breeding event. We also group them by color to prevent color contamination in the shorn fleeces . We start with the light fleeces, proceed through the fawns, and finish with the dark fleeces. While the animals are restrained, we seize the opportunity to file teeth and/or give shots as needed.

Atlas undergoes his shearing

Darrin eases the clippers over Atlas's abdomen...

... gently separating Atlas' fleece from his hide


The animals are caught, haltered, and led to the station where we use a rope and pulley system to secure their feet. We gently lay the alpaca down as the feet are stretched out. There is great variation among the animals regarding how they accept their temporary restraint and the subsequent shearing. Some animals get excited and squeal or buck or spit. Some do all three. And there are just as many animals that are quiet and placidly accept the process. Our co-farmers have Atlas who appears to go into a sleep-like trance while he is shorn. We have to shake him awake when it is over! Com’on, Atlas. Get up.

Made in the shade

Atlas sporting his summer apparel

Andrew's knee pads - vital equipment

When the process is over, the alpacas are quite happy to scamper away and enjoy their new summer wardrobe. Today, it is going to hit 90 degrees. Our alpacas were happy to lay in the shade. Later, when we humans were taking a drink of the water from the hose, James sprayed one of the animals with the water.  Several others trotted over to get in on the spray shower fun.

This year, I am happy to report, none of the humans were spit upon. In fact, after the morning’s work, we were treated by a resident peacock with the show of his full fan. A happy morning indeed.

Salty Dog gets a shower

Showers of cool, cool water

Mr. Peacock gives us show

Visit the next blog to see video from the day!

The End 🙂

Welcome to the world “Black Jack”!

"Hello World," says, Black Jack. Black Jack, World says, "Hello!"

Andersons Alpacas is proud to announce the arrival of Willow’s newest cria!  He is black from head to toe and nose to tail! Welcome to the world “Black Jack”! Both cria and dam are well.  Black Jack was born during the day on Monday, April 2nd. Our co-farmer, James Deardon, stopped by to the feed the alpacas when he saw a little black head peeking up above some tall grass. He did a double take! “What is that!  Holy smokes! Willow had her cria!” The rest of our pregnant dams are due in the fall. He was already up and nursing like a champ. He is very independent and is comfortable in the herd even when mom is a little ways away from him. All the other alpacas are very welcoming of the new little guy.

Willow is a fabulous mom. Black Jack is Willow’s fourth cria.  She has produced three cria in addition to Black Jack, all of whom have placed first through third in various significant east coast shows.

Jack was sired by Fireweed Farm’s Kubla Kahn.  Kubla is the fabulous rosegray son of 11 time Color Champion and 5 time Get-of-Sire winner, Aga Khan. Aga is descended from Shere Khan, possibly the most famous herd sire in Peru, who sired the Vendagor/Capac line.  Kubla has won numerous awards in his own rite, and is producing some fantastic crias.

We named our new boy “Black Jack” after my dear departed dad, Jack Shanahan. When we were kids, dad would pass out the licorice gum that came in the turquoise wrapper, Black Jack (it was the first gum to be offered in sticks as we know it today).  In any case, we would, occasionally and always affectionately, call my dad “Black Jack”. Somehow, my mom received the moniker “Apple Annie”. When we have a little girl cria, she will be named that after mom.

Enjoy the pictures of Black Jack, Willow, and the rest of the herd.

"Who's the new guy?"

Holly, Skylark, and Duchess sniff the newcomer as the proud mom (right) supervises. Analise patiently waits her turn in the back row.

Black Jack frolics in the grass.

Momma Willow nuzzles her newest little one.

Willow and her cria, Black Jack.



Ice Boy Wins a Blue

On Sunday, February 19th, Ice Dancer competed in a halter class of medium fawn suri males. He was favored over his competitors for exceptional luster among other things.

Ice Boy wins Blue at CABO 2012

What a Wonderful World… CABO and Comraderie

 I gotta tell you… alpaca farmers are some of the friendliest and most cooperative folks in the world. This weekend, Bob is off to Carolina where the Carolina Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association is hosting an “Alpaca Celebration“.  The show features the usual: halter competitions, performance classes, spin offs, and so on.

 Bob is bringing two of our animals, as well as the animals of two of our fellow alpaca farmers. He is using the trailer of yet another friendly alpaca farmer and he is showing an animal for our “partners”, who can’t make the trip.  I believe, if I have counted correctly, that we have five small alpaca farmers cooperating with each other as we figure out how to caravan and “carpool” on our way to and from the CABO show. Some of us might very well compete with each other in some halter or performance classes. We have in the past. Yet, the cooperation and support of each other is foremost in this group! We are blessed and pleased to share this remarkable, friendly, professional relationship with all of them!
Good luck to Bob as he shows Ice Dancer (barn name = Ice boy), again. We are also showing Mattie Mae, our very densly covered suri. We are very interested to hear what the judges have to say about her. She is not the typical-looking suri. But her fleece is lustrous, long, and very dense. I know spinners who would love her fleece. We’ll see what the judges say.

Good luck to Deardons, Suri Downs, and Fireweed. Thanks to New Trails Alpacas for the use of the trailer. They made it safely there. All are checked in. Let the games begin! Godspeed you all back home on Sunday.


Mattie Mae


Ice Boy wins 2nd Place at VAOBA December 2011


Meet the New Kids on the Farm!

Andersons Alpacas have acquired three new female alpacas. We welcome four year-old Priscilla (Prissy), her cria Magdalene (Maggie), and Mattie Mae.

Prissy and Maggie are beautiful, white suris with long pencil locks that drape into beautiful curling spirals. They are primarily Peruvian and Accoyo heritage. Prissy took second in a class of 12 at the Carolina Alpaca Celebration. Maggie’s sire is Snowmass Ice Capade. Like her father, Maggie presents with tremendous coverage and dense soft fiber with excellent penciling. Maggie is also the granddaughter of Macgyver (“Herd Sire Of The Year” seven times in a row). Those prize-winning genetics are evident in both Prissy and Maggie.

Mattie Mae is another beautiful, beige, suri female by Snowmass Ice Capade. Mattie is a maiden with locks to the skin and tons of density that spiral into long, thick, locks that excite the fiber artist in me. I cannot wait to sheer her this spring, weigh her blanket, and show her fiber to my spinning friends. Look out, because it will be like Filene’s Basement running of the brides.

Come out to the farm to meet our new pretty girls. Look forward to seeing you soon!


Maggie, Prissy, and Mattie


Prissy & Maggie


Mattie Mae

Ribbons Earned at VAOBA Expo

Ice Dancer, also known by his barn name “Ice Boy”, won a second place ribbon in his class at the Virginia Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (VAOBA) Expo this past weekend. Ice Boy is a 18 month-old suri male, son of SnowmassIce Capade and grandson of the famous Peruvian Macgyver, sire of countless Champions AND Herdsire of The Year seven times in a row!

Johnny Fleece, our 7 month-old hucaya male, took third place in his class at the VAOBA Expo. Johnny Fleece is the son of Accoyo Americus who has oustanding pedigree and placed 2nd at the AOBA Nationals. Full Accoyo genetics of Caligula, Vengador and the Godfather. The Godfather was the only herdire Don Julio Barreda kept interest in once imported into the United States. The Godfather is part of the Studmaster program and represents phenotypic perfection. Johnny takes after his daddy having wonderful coverage and density. Johnny’s dam is Fireweed Willow. Willow is a beautiful dark brown huacaya who has produced several blue ribbon winning cria. She won the 2nd place ribbon at the ABOA Nationals as a maiden. Johnny has inherited the best features of both his parents. His crimpy dark brown fleece has a nice hand and pretty luster.

Ice Boy wins 2nd Place

Johnny Fleece Wins his first Ribbon


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