Saturday, February 28, 2009

Alpaca show at the Boulder County Fairgrounds

Scenes and some information from today's Alpaca show over at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. It's going on today and tomorrow (March 1) and it's free. You'll see both Alpaca owners with their animals, and also alpaca-related craft vendors. If you go, you'll find the alpaca ranchers are very happy to talk with you about their animals, and how they take care of them, and also answer any questions, like they did for me.

  • Q: What is the alpaca "wool" called?
  • A: It's called "fiber" and it has been measured to have up to three times the insulating capability as sheep's wool.

  • Q: How much do they weigh?
  • A: One rancher told me that his get up to 200 pounds but there is a smaller variety that peaks at around 150.
  • Q: How do alpacas fare in the hot months of our Front Range summers?
  • A: We shear them in late April or early May which really helps them with the warm weather. A shady area will help them, too. When it gets very hot, we gently put a hose to them, which they really like, and line up for!

  • Q: Where are alpacas orginally from?
  • A: Peru. The invasion of Peru by the Spanish chased the alpaca herders to higher elevations, up to 10,000 to 12,000 feet, but they are originally from about the same elevation as Longmont.

  • Q: How do alpacas get along with other animals on the ranch?
  • A: Just fine when the fields are full of grass. During the colder months, a bale of hay will be monopolized by the horses, so some separation may be needed.

Left to Right, seven and eight months old, respectively. The white one is named "Daisy".

Hats and mittens made from alpaca fiber.

Bag o' fiber. Very soft!

Alpacas are very curious but also shy when you get up close, especially around strangers and when they're in a unknown environment like the fair grounds. Kids may be disappointed that they usually won't want to be petted, but the owners did say that they warm up to familiar faces back home.

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