Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alpaca Red Hats!

When speaking of hats one cannot go without mentioning the new and stylish Red Hat. Ellie did not want to leave the "Red Hatters" out of this one! For anyone that knows red hatters knows they are special and wear only stylish red hats. Well Ellie figured that a "red hat" for this group would be a special hat indeed. She can create them with purple ribbons and bows or a simple knit in purple band. Our website features these special hats and one special lady got one of the first few to be made...our very own Curly Grandma!
(Pauline Engels)

Hats by Ellie

Okay, if I wrote about socks... I must write and tell you about the incredible hats that are being produced by my mother, Ellie Hunter. She has found that she has a new talent at the age (of 70 something!). She knits, felts and molds that alpaca yarns into these very in-demand hats. They are thick and luxurious and always one of a kind because she hand makes each one. She uses antique pins to decorate each hat and although they are beautiful some people like them plain with the brim. Some are adorned with felted flowers or ribbons. One of the favorite hats is made from a gorgeous dark green iridescent alpaca yarn and embellished with a peacock feather from the peacocks on our farm. They grow them special for us. Once the courting season is over the peacocks conveniently drop their feathers and we gather them up to be sold in the farm store or put on a hat! That is what is so great about our killing! The alpacas are sheared (once the weather turns nice around here!), the chickens lay the eggs to be sold on the porch and the peacocks drop their feathers for hats and excited kids visiting the farm store. We are not self sustaining yet...but maybe someday!
Check out this blog for other great felting ideas!

Alpaca socks and hats

Although I will probably wear to my grave the incredibly beautiful hat that my own mother knit and felted for me out of one of my favorite alpacas (Snowy) I must admit that as I am aging...I have absolutely fallen in love with alpaca socks! There is nothing quite like putting on these luxuriously thick warm socks on a cold wintry day. It is easy to understand why it was only incan royalty that was afforded alpaca to wear hundreds of years ago. It is this feeling that has truly made me feel old lately! Joy from socks? Ha! The sad part is we have a distributor that has been having difficulty getting us the socks and they meagerly arrive in half dozens every few months. They are so incredible that demand is greater than the supply. Imagine that? So for now as we await our next shipment we and our loyal customers (who have been very patient!) will be satisfied to wear our old alpaca socks and our incredible fiber hats by Ellie. The hats are embellished with antique pins of gold, pearls and jewels. They are one of a kind and just to die for!

Alpaca School Visit

I am excited to report that Jay and I did our first Alpaca School visit. A local school was studying about South America and the teacher wanted them to experience the alpaca, as it is such a vital aspect of the culture and economy in South America.
We really enjoyed this eventhough it fell on an ugly rainy, wintery day in February. The children were interested attentive and very polite. They were amazed just as we are constantly at the facts about this incredible creature...Of course as soon as I mentioned that we had brought her to visit in our "paca van" they laughed...and practically while explaining how clean they are and that they would never relieve themselves in the van or gym where we were presenting...didn't she go and do it..."tinkle" on the floor as one child mentioned in their beautifully written thank you note! It was quite a day. We only wish we did not work (I am a kindergarten teacher but I was excused by my principal during my lunch and planning period to meet Jay for the presentation) Jay recently opened his own accounting firm so that he can have more flexability and more time for the farm. Maybe when we retire we can do more visiting!

Oh, the Pregnant Alpaca!

Yes pregnancy is a beautiful thing! The alpaca pregnancy begins with a spit off. Yes I said spit off...and in some alpacas this can last 350 days...the entire pregnancy! This is one of the methods used to determine pregnancy. The female will spit at the male who attempts to breed with her. (I must admit I snicker to myself each and every time they do this...oh the poor male!) We have one female that spits, spits and keeps on spitting. Let me explain...she is an "older mom" and although her body is accustomed to being pregnant she is just a plain old b-_-_-_-h when pregnant.I pity the poor alpaca I put in her stall. For this reason I only make an alpaca endure her for a day or so. I keep her in during the brutal winter days in upstate NY. My husband asks why? because although she might be a b----... she is smart enough not to go out despite the fact that she has a stylish alpaca winter coat in addition to her own made of elderly fiber :-) I have learned rather quickly about what my vet refers to as "middle aged" alpacas. I fees them extra feed, hay and they get extra TLC...Don't be fooled when an unscrupulous (although there aren't too many!) alpaca breeder tells you they live for 20 years and can breed that whole time. Our one or two are now "pets" and will die in our loving arms on the farm because they are not for sale. I would not sell them for money to someone getting into the alpaca business. Yes, I love the pregnant alpaca...and yes they do spit especially this one with attitude and while pregnant.

Monday, February 23, 2009

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