Joining their fellow Alpaca farmers and lovers throughout the country, Melissa and Lou Ferrera, owners of New England Alpaca Farm in Killingworth, opened the gates of their farm, free to visitors, as part of National Alpaca Farm Days this past weekend.
This is the third year the couple has forgone attending the popular Durham Fair with their animals; they have instead decided to celebrate this special Alpaca weekend with friends, family and visitors to help educate them about these magnificent camelids, who produce 22 different colors of fiber.
“I love my Alpacas and I really enjoy sharing them with others,” explains Melissa who was out and about on her farm, answering questions about her gorgeous herd.
She explained that Alpacas are indigenous to Peru, Chili, Bolivia and other parts of South America, but live very happily in the ever changing New England climate.
Also on site giving demonstrations, walking Alpacas around for guests to pet and answer questions about the special animals, were members of the Huggable Hummers 4-H Club that meets regularly at Melissa’s farm.
One young 4-H Alpaca enthusiast, 13 year-old Madeline Gifford of Killingworth, explained what she loves most about these animals is the fact that they all have unique and different personalities.
“My favorite is a two year-old silver grey male named Kharson who I saw the day after he was born here and I just fell in love with him. He has such a sweet personality,” said Gifford.
Higganum resident Kelly Carone visited the farm for the first time last weekend and brought her daughter, four year-old Sophia and six year-old Elijah to see the unusual animals.
“I think this is great,” said Carone. “The kids really got a chance to get up close to the animals here, more than they can at the fairs, plus this is such a beautiful place, we are so glad we came.”
The trio bought some Alpaca fiber and had fun washing it on site. Carone explained they will use it so the birds in their yard at home can pull it from the nesting ball and use it to build a very warm home for the winter.
Alpaca fiber is an extremely plush, dense and warm material. Likened to cashmere, due to its soft silky feeling, Alpaca fiber is durable, light weight and beautiful. Knitters love it! It currently has a market value of approximately $3.50 per ounce and each animal yields about 10 pounds of fiber annually.
Melissa and Lou have 22 Alpacas on sight and have made farming these wide eyed, fuzzy headed, long legged animals a full time business since 1996. They breed, sell and harvest the Alpaca fiber as well as give seminars about their business to others who are interested in starting their own Alpaca farms.
In addition, the couple has a small store at their farm filled with brilliant, handmade Alpaca goods including hats, gloves, mittens, socks, scarves, sweaters and soft Alpaca toys.
If you are interested in visiting the farm and missed the National Alpaca Farm Days weekend, not to worry, the Ferrerra’s open their farm annually on Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a great place to visit with holiday guests and an excellent choice for some unique, one of kind, locally grown and handmade Christmas gifts.
For more information about the Thanksgiving weekend open farms days go to www.nealpacas.com or call 860-663-3482.