As part of the national Alpaca Farm Days Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28-29, Willow Glen Farm is inviting the public to come to their farm to meet their alpacas and learn more about these inquisitive, unique animals.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 28-29, Willow Glen Farm will welcome guests. See these alpacas, have your picture taken with them and learn more about them. Get a sample of their fleece. There is no charge to visit.
A variety of alpaca items will be for sale, including yarn, socks and rugs. Apples and honey will also be for sale from Van Laar’s Fruit Farm.
Willow Glen Farm is at 21000 Leroy Center Road, north of Capron and just south of the Illinois/Wisconsin state line.
Alpacas, cousins of the llama, are beautiful, intelligent animals native to the Andean Mountain range of South America, particularly Peru, Bolivia and Chile. The United States first commercially imported alpacas in 1984. There are now more than 150,000 ARI (Alpaca Registry, Inc.) registered in North America.
There are two types of alpacas in the United States today. Although almost physically identical, what distinguishes the two types of alpacas 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 is silky and 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.
About alpaca fiber
Alpacas are shorn, without harm, every 12 to 18 months. They produce 5 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 a third of 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 they can wear alpaca without the itching or irritation they feel from wool because alpaca fiber is smooth. Additional performance characteristics include: stretch, water repellency and odor reduction. For travelers, clothing made from alpaca is desirable because it is wrinkle-resistant.
To learn more about Willow Glen Farm, call (815) 979-3072 or visit www.willowglenalpacas.com.
From the Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2013, issue