Nesting Material Is Important For Songbirds

 

I love having birds around the farm.  As you know, we have chickens and ducks who are adorable and very social. Our rooster Evan loves to go for walks around the farm.  Today we are expecting six more ducklings to join our family.  It has been a lot of fun having all of you help us name them.

Last year our cat Matrix noticed that a baby downy woodpecker had fallen out of its nest and broken its leg.  He yelled until we noticed it and we were able to take it to the special vet.  At our farm, even one of our cats loves birds.  Lucky for us we have great nesting material readily available to us – our beloved alpaca fiber helps these beautiful creatures flourish at Lilymoore Farm.

Many birds like to add fluffy material to their nest – alpaca fiber is a great choice.  It’s soft, water resistant and comfortable.  It provides the nest with great insulation properties.   Most importantly, it is safe for the birds.  There are a lot of household items on the market that people put into nesting balls that are not safe for the birds.  When you offer the birds alpaca fiber, you have peace of mind that you are giving them a safe option for their nest.

We offer a variety of choices in which to display your nesting materials, from little birdhouses to hanging whisks.  They are adorable, add whimsy to you garden and help the birds as well.  We also sell the nesting material in different sizes so that you can refill your houses.  When you purchase a raffia ball filled with nesting material, please note that the birds love to use the entire ball as nesting material.  But don’t worry, these are safe for them to use.  They are our only option that is not reusable because the birds enjoy using every last piece.

It takes a lot of work building a nest and raising nestlings.  It is much easier on the birds if they do not have to go searching for all of their materials.  They can’t order online and get it shipped to the house like we can.  Providing nesting materials saves them time and energy – we all can relate to that.  Remember the saying “it takes a village” – become part of the song bird or hummingbird’s village in raising their young and enjoy watching them all summer long.

The Art of …..Alpaca Farming

When people think of Dutchess County, NY they often think of scenic views with lush fields, deep woods, and babbling streams as well as its delicious restaurants and delightful specialty stores.  Few realize that Dutchess County also has alpaca farms where residents can interact with alpacas and buy goods made from their fiber.  Alpacas are adorable, friendly animals that resemble llamas.  They are fiber animals – their fiber is used to create a variety of products, including hats, blankets, sweaters, purses, socks and boot inserts.

Only a limited number of farms raise alpacas in New York.  Since fiber is particularly important, farmers need to be very selective when choosing alpacas to breed.  They attend shows all over the country to identify alpacas with the highest quality of fiber.  Alpacas come in 22 official colors although specialty colors, such as champagne and maroon, are also possible.  This allows for a variety of color options for products without having to dye the fiber.  The fiber from alpacas is hypoallergenic, warmer than wool, and odor resistant.

Alpaca’s have their fiber shorn once a year usually in the Spring.  The fiber is then sorted into categories and cleaned of all debris.  The fiber can then be used in a variety of ways – often to produce yarn and / or clothing.  The blankets (the fiber on the midsection) are used  in knitwear whereas thirds are used in items such as boot inserts or purses.  Typically, an average alpaca produces 5 – 10 pounds of fiber.

Alpaca’s generally give birth to one baby, called a cria.  Gestation takes 11.5 months.  Pregnancy is confirmed with a spit test.  When a female isn’t interested in breeding because she is already pregnant, she spits at the male to tell him to go away.  While they are not 100% accurate, they are a very good indicator if an alpaca is pregnant.  Cria usually weigh  between 10- 20 pounds.   In the Northeast, cria are usually born between May – September.  Ours are due between May – July this year.

Alpaca farmers provide their herds with grain, hay and plenty of fresh water.  They live in barns or run-in sheds and they enjoy spending time outdoors.  They generally prefer winter to summer – they need fans to keep cool in the summer.  Typically farmers have at least an acre for every  10 alpaca so they have room to graze.  Alpacas are naturally pack animals and enjoy being around other alpacas.  You should never have just one alpaca.

Alpacas are naturally docile and curious.  They can be skittish if startled upon encountering a large group or an unknown circumstance.  However, if they are worked with at an early age, most are very friendly and will even let people walk them on leads.  They seem to recognize repeat visitors and often come to greet them.

This article originally appeared in The Art of ….. digital magazine

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.