|By ANN ALLEN
CULVER, Ind. — Now in their third year of raising alpacas and with a marketing plan that includes their own retail shop and twice-a-year demonstrations, Anne and Jack Johnston have scheduled an Oct. 14 fall celebration at Alpacas of the Shire.
On tap for the 1-5 p.m. event will be fiber arts demonstrations, live music by the Tippy River Bluegrass Band, face painting, hayrides and an opportunity to meet the couple’s alpaca family, a mixture of both Huacaya and Suri types.
The fleece of the Huacaya, the primary type of alpacas the Johnstons raise, has a waviness or crimp that gives the animal the appearance of a fluffy toy, while the Suris’ straight fleece clings to itself forming “pencil locks” that hang from their bodies in silky cascades.
Demonstrations will utilize both fleece types to show how processing yields smooth-as-cashmere fibers that are lighter in weight and warmer than wool but that lack the lanolin that causes many woolen fabrics to scratch.
The Johnstons, who named their ten-acre farm The Shire after J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series, find living with alpacas promotes a simpler lifestyle, one governed by the four seasons.
“From shearing in the spring, to green pastures in the summer, to the arrival of new crias (baby alpacas) in autumn - alpacas bring joy and harmony to life like few other investments can,” they said.
Best of all, they add, alpacas are easy keepers and hardy.
“Ten alpacas can live on what one cow eats a year in feed.” Jack Johnston said. “They forage well. An acre of pasture can easily feed 5-10 alpacas.”
Alpacas of the Shire is located just south of Lake Maxinkuckee and just west of Mystic Hills golf course at 20457 Sycamore Road, Culver. Additional information is available on the Shire’s website www.alpacasoftheshire.com
This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.