Yes, Alpacas Have Best Friends

I am writing about a topic that not many people think about – Alpacas having best friends.  I spend a lot of time working with and hanging out with my alpacas.  I know who they like and who they would rather not have in their field.  Just like people and dogs, alpacas have wide variations in their personalities.  Mardi Gras and Mercy are my party girls –  Angel, Mercys daughter,  is too.  Glinda likes to be impish whereas her daughter Lilah likes to do everything perfectly.  Lilah would never even think about behaving in a silly manor like her mom.  That is just beneath her.  Sometimes it is very easy to see why two alpacas have become such good friends, such as similar personality.  Other times, you are left scratching your head as to why they hang out.

Gabriel and Perkins are best friends

If you watch the alpacas, it is easy to spot the best friends.  Just look at how closely Gabriel and Perkins stand next to one another in this photo.  They literally are touching.  It’s similar to humans; best friends are always together and feel comfortable being in very close proximity with one another.  With both people and animals, non-verbal communication always tells you what is going on. This makes it really easy to spot the friendships.

Bella and Tessa have been best friends for a long time now.  It was a really easy friendship to spot, they are almost always together.  They both love to roll in the mud and get completely dirty.   They seem to enjoy it more than the other alpacas.  They also enjoy being sprayed by the water hose in the summer – although Tessa definitely enjoys it more than Bella.  Both are very smart girls who easily communicate with me what is going on in the field.  Tessa is in charge of the field and Bella is in charge of who is walking with customers for the day.  They both take their jobs very seriously.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t like to have fun when the work day is done.

Just as they have alpacas that they prefer, they have alpacas that they would prefer not to be near.  I have had Oorah walk out of the field as I open the gate because he was mad at someone in his field.  (For the record, he is one of the few alpaca allowed to do that on the farm.)  He had enough and wanted to be in another field.  I let him.  I have had a few occasions when I needed a little space of my own from people – I knew how he felt.

Even you might have picked up on friendships when you come to the farm or follow us on Instagram and Facebook.  When I take pictures the “besties” are usually standing near one another.   Think about  how many pictures that I post contain both Lilah and Angel?  They have been best friends since birth.  Though I will say that Lilah sometimes questions her choice as best friend.  Straight laced Lilah with party girl Angel, they are a very funny combo.  I do believe it is a friendship that will last a lifetime however.Angel and Lilah best alpaca friends

Next time you are at the farm, especially if it is a quiet day, watch how the alpacas interact with one another.  You will notice new things every time.  Forest kisses his children when they walk by, Mercy is friends with Gizmo the pig, Bella and Lily are good friends and like to stop to see one another when they are out of their fields.  Most of all you will see who is hanging out with their best friend enjoying life.

Organic Coffee = Happy Farmer

It’s  3:40 am – my coffee is already in my hand as I write this post.  This is an early morning even for me.  I usually get an hour to an hour and a half more hours of sleep.  It’s Easter weekend, however, and there are a lot of things that have to be accomplished.  Coffee gets the morning started right.  It also helps me keep a smile on my face when things aren’t going perfectly.  There are a lot of things to be accomplished every day on the farm.  No time for naps!

I bet the word “organic” caught your attention for a moment when you read the title.  After all, I am an alpaca farmer, why on earth am I writing about organic coffee?  Well, as an alpaca farmer I hang out with all the other farmers and vendors at the farmers markets.  It is amazing how much I have changed what I eat and drink based off what they have told me.  The coffee people shared information about the pesticides sprayed on regular coffee to keep bugs away – gross.  I don’t want to drink pesticides on a daily basis.  Does that mean that I never drink non-organic coffee or never go to Dunkin’ Donuts?  Of course I do.  When I am traveling home from festivals I need my almond milk latte just you guys.  But in the morning my travel mug contains organic coffee. (Usually my 2nd or 3rd cup of the day.)   I just try my best to drink organic coffee as much as I can.  It is a small change that makes a big difference.  Little changes like this can really add up to improve your health.

Truth be told, I have learned a lot of amazing facts about food, tonics, coffee and even soaps and lotions from my fellow farmers that have made me a much healthier person.  They have helped me be very conscious of not putting chemicals in or on my body.  Next time you go to a farmer’s market, be sure to ask the farmers questions.  They are a wealth of knowledge.  The ones that I have encountered have been exceptionally nice and helpful.  They make a living growing your food and are experts at it.  They usually know quite a few wonderful ways you can cook their fruits and vegetables also.    When you stop by my booth I will even share with you why you should be wearing natural fibers instead of plastic if you ask.  (And yes, a lot of clothing is made of plastic!)  And of course, I will likely have a cup of coffee in my hand while talking to you….

Farming In High Heels

As much as I love my animals and working outside, I also enjoy a beautiful pair of high heels.   Many times when I am in a hurry the two become intertwined.  We have all been there – going out to dinner, going to a wedding, maybe even going to our own wedding  and the horses or other farm animals need hay.  Our hair and nails are done, heels are on and we are running to the barn to feed them.

We accomplish our chores, clean the mud off our heels, go to the event believing that no one will know that we were farming in this outfit.  Plop, out falls a chunk of hay from our hair onto the table.  Most likely we laugh at the hay knowing that this is not the first time nor will this be the last time that this will happen.  But, at least the hay is not in our bra.  Life is good.

If you are like me, you couldn’t imagine life any other way.  Women who farm are strong, both mentally and physically.  We have to be.  Animals depend on us to care for them.  Water buckets need to be carried and crisis need to be handled in an intelligent manner.  There is beauty in our strength.  We never have to worry if our arms are going to be toned for t-shirt weather.  Just muck another stall or field and you will be ready.  Owning the farm has taught me that life does not have to be nor should it be perfect.  With hard work, a little laughter and the right pair of shoes you can muck those fields and dance the night away later that day.

Natural Fibers – How They Benefit Both You and The Environment

Quality matters.   If you state that something is of high quality you expect a degree of excellence, something superior.  In most cases, quality items are made to last or have some other redeeming benefit.  Natural fibers provide you with quality, help the environment, and help local farmers.

There has been a growing concern lately over synthetic clothing such as polyester and spandex.  Consider what synthetics are made of: polyester’s base is oil and spandex is a synthetic polymer.  Evidence is mounting that synthetic clothing releases plastic into the water supply through waste from the washing machine.  Not only does this plastic potentially harm marine life, it is theorized that it is also working its way up the food chain to humans.  No one wants to accidentally digest chemicals.  And let’s face it – no one boasts that their shirt is made of acrylic.

A natural fiber is derived from plants or animals.  Some common natural fibers are cotton (preferably organic), wool, silk, alpaca, mohair and jute.  They are what our ancestors wore (some fibers that we commonly wear today were reserved for royalty ).  Natural fibers tend to breathe more than synthetics.  While natural fibers may sometimes cost more than synthetic fibers, in the long run they are well worth the extra money. 

If you are environmentally conscientious, natural fibers are a great way to make both an investment in your wardrobe and your lifestyle.  The materials you purchase as a consumer help determine whether businesses are more environmentally friendly.  As more and more consumers see the benefits of sustainable products, more companies choose to produce them. 

There are many natural fibers, like alpaca, that are long lasting.  I have had customers relay to me that they have owned alpaca sweaters for 40 years.  Natural fibers are also very fashionable.  Long gone are the days of grandma patterns for natural fibers.  Many top designers are using them.

As an alpaca farmer at Lilymoore Farm, I see first-hand the benefits of natural fibers.  For instance alpaca is warmer than wool, hypo-allergenic, naturally water resistant, odor resistant, flame resistant and it is a renewable fiber.  Alpacas are shorn only one time per year.  Our alpacas are currently creating your next sock, or scarf or sweater.  Alpacas easily adapt to a large variety of climates, are gentle to the grass, and are lovely to look at.  They are a sustainable crop

For thousands of years, mankind has worn natural fibers.  Synthetics are relatively new in the clothing arena and  can take decades to break down.   Natural fibers, on the other hand, biodegrade relatively quickly when they reach the landfill.  If you are considering becoming environmentally friendly, natural fibers are a great way to start.  When you purchase natural fibers not only are you cutting down on carbon emissions, you are also helping support farmers that grow or raise these sources of fiber.  When you purchase them locally, you help farms in your area while supporting local agriculture. This creates sustainability in local area farms. Make a difference in your world, switch to natural fibers.