This blog is dedicated to all things alpaca! I run an alpaca farm called Sirius Alpacas (www.siriusalpacas.com) in northeast Ohio and I import alpaca wear and Andean accessories from South America. I am passionate about these animals and the luxurious fleece they produce.
Our winters are harsh (our geographic area is known as the “snow belt!”), but one way we help take the sting out of the icy wind to stay warm is with alpaca socks, sweaters, hats, mittens and blankets. Geauga County has dozens of alpaca farms raising these fleecy animals native to South America. Although alpacas originate from the Andes Mountains in Peru, Chili and Bolivia, they were imported into the United States in the mid-1980s and have been thriving in Ohio ever since. Alpacas are all about warmth. Their silky, soft fleece is comparable to cashmere. And, their insulating fiber is incredibly warm, yet breathable. Because alpacas do not secrete lanolin, the oily substance in sheep’s fleece, allergic reactions are virtually nonexistent.
Along with raising alpacas, many local farmers shear, breed and board animals as well as use their fleeces for spinning into yarn and for felting and weaving projects. A few domestic fiber co-ops are buying fiber from individual farms and turning prime fleece into everything from luxury sweaters and blankets and socks. High-tech performance manufacturers for active and extreme-weather enthusiasts are increasingly making use of alpaca fiber for its wicking properties and light weight. Neck and leg fiber, referred to as “seconds” and “thirds,” is not as soft as prime fleece, and is harvested for use in accessories, rugs and heavy-duty totes.
There are two types of alpacas: huacaya and suri. Huacayas have fluffy, crimpy fleece while suri fiber hangs in spiral-like dreadlocks. Both varieties have similar properties regarding softness and warmth, and require the same food and environment. Farmers need to administer monthly worm shots and occasional oral treatments.
Look for photos of our animals in an upcoming post.