From Coat to Craft | What Goes Into Making A Skein of Alpaca Fiber Yarn? (Part 1)
So much has happened since the last time I have had the opportunity to update the blog, so allow me to get a few thank you's and my appreciation out front. Thank you to everyone who made the Palmyra Self-Guided art tour a day to be remembered. We had so much fun getting to see you all and share the craft of fiber processing with you. We hope you learned something new about alpaca fiber and enjoyed MaryJane’s demonstration of the prep work involved for fiber processing (more on this in a bit). It is always so interesting to learn about the ins-and-outs of what goes into the raw materials of a craft and the creation of the items you purchase.
Thank you to everyone who showed up for our Halloween Haunted Barn and made it unforgettable! From the spooky Storytime to celebrating Aziel’s birthday, we had such an amazing time celebrating the holiday together. Feel free on any of our social media to share your pictures or memories from these events. We love to hear from you and see your adventures on our farm. Special thanks to DMary’s food truck for catering this event, Cindy Pollard for providing her amazing talents in face painting, and to Dawn, Kathy and the rest of the Sacred Acres Alpaca Farm Staff for making this all possible.
We have so many fun changes coming to the farm within the next few months and I am so excited to share it all with you. First and foremost, our Earth Closet fundraiser is just a few days away — Saturday, November 12 at 11 am PT, (2 pm ET). It will be a live Zoom shopping event. Click RSVP ( http://shopalpacaonline.com/rsvp ) for Alpaca Fundraiser to register for the event. Once you’re registered, you will receive a follow-up email describing the purpose of the event and how you can help us raise funds to build an improved restroom experience for visitors to Sacred Acres Alpaca Farm.
This will be a lively fun event where you can shop for quality alpaca products like those we carry in our brick-and-mortar farm store, donate to our Earth Closet Building Fund, and earn tickets toward a drawing on Sunday, November 13, at 11 am PT (2 pm ET) for a “Grand Prize” and a “Runner-up Prize.” You won’t need to be present to win. Once you are registered, you will receive another email that describes the whole event, and when you can start shopping. A link in the email will enable to access the fundraiser site where you can check out the alpaca products offered and the “Grand Prize” that you could win. If you don’t receive the follow-up email, please contact MaryJane Cathers at [email protected] or [email protected].
We look forward to seeing you on our supercalifragilisticexpialidocious fundraising event!
While you are shopping, be sure to check out our November sales! 20% off blankets and throws through the month of November. Get ready to get cozy through the upcoming winter season. I was looking at the weather app yesterday and I am not joking when I say it said “temperatures to plummet.” I am shivering just reading that. Or, if you are looking to craft your own blankets and winter gear, remember we are still running our yarn sale! 10% off your entire yarn purchase when you buy more than 5 skeins of yarn. We offer a wide variety of natural alpaca colors at 200 & 250 yard skeins. It is also good to keep in mind that it is a best practice for consistency to purchase yarn from the same alpaca. Even if they are the same color, there can be variances in color from coat to coat.
What Goes Into Making A Skein of Yarn?
As we have been running this yarn sale, a common question that has come to pass is the process and step-by-step of what goes into making a skein of yarn. Of course, it all starts with the farm itself. I will post more about the beginnings of starting your own alpaca farm, but if you want to know more about Sacred Acres Alpaca Farm’s beginnings, feel free to check out this blog post.
Time and Money!
There is a lot that goes into the process of creating a skein of yarn but it all starts with the care of the alpacas and the two main inputs that go into any project: time and money. I am going to separate this into part of daily, monthly, and yearly tasks and the costs of each. Today we are just going into the daily time and costs.
Daily Time and Costs
There are many one-off purchases that are made as you build and expand your alpaca farm that I will go into more detail into but for the purposes of this blog, we are going to temporarily skip over the animal purchasing costs, fencing, land clearing, and barn building. We will come back to these and I will link that post here once it is done.
Like with any animal, there is the daily responsibility of food and water. Here is your reminder, if you haven’t had anything besides an iced coffee today to go drink a glass of water. For our herd of 16 alpacas, we feed them orchard grass hay, which they are free to graze throughout the day along with the grass along the pasture, and alpaca feed. One major thing to consider as well is your water source, if you are on city water versus utilizing well water, it is going to make a major impact on the costs of maintaining your herd.
Bail of hay ($10-12 on average)
Per bag of feed ($20 on average)
X 365 days
Yearly costs estimates for daily
Of course, the average costs are going to vary depending on your area and distributor. This is why it is extremely important to take your time to shop around and do your research. It is also important to have feeders for each alpaca that you own. If you do not have enough feeders for your alpaca, whoever is the hungriest (or bossiest) will do something called “spitting off” which is essentially like what you see with dogs where the more aggressive one will push off or shove away the other in order to get to the food without competition. Like with the feeders, water troths or buckets around the farm are also key to have and maintain. These tend to be one off expenses and will last you a while. With so many alpacas, we will check in daily to make sure these buckets are filled and clean.
Everyone’s favorite topic next, poop! Now I have done a previous blog post on alpaca gold and its utilization for gardening that you can check out here. But for our purposes here we are going to just talk about cleaning up after the alpaca. Alpacas, like cats, create a litter box of sorts within their enclosure area. This means that the alpacas will choose a section where they will consistently relieve themselves and even stand in line and take turns going. You can even manufacture a litter box area for them while you are cleaning up droppings by shifting a portion over to an area more suitable for you and the alpacas will follow suit. We have our amazing farm staff help with this process and even some of their family on occasion as well.
What we typically use to do this are rakes and scoopers, these are also typically one-time costs but being made of plastic, they will eventually break down so it is helpful to keep this as a gradual expense to replace and maintain for these daily uses. We will go through daily to clean up after the alpacas and ensure they have a fresh barn to sleep in at night. We have a golf cart that we will use to travel around the pasture and clean the manure into as we go.
This about wraps up the daily, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment on our Instagram and I will be more than happy to go into further detail. This week, I am going to be working on porting over our Facebook live-streams over to the YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for that and, of course, don’t forget to subscribe to the page while you are there. I will be posting videos from adventuring the farm, different craft projects you can do with alpaca fiber (beginners knitting and crochet tips as you pick up these new craft hobbies with me), fun facts about alpaca, and host live streams every other week (aiming for Sunday Morning Strolls on Sacred Acres Alpaca Farm). Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with announcements, open farm events, farm store sales, and cute alpaca photos. Don't forget, this weekend is our Zoom online shopping event, November 12th at 2pm EST! We look forward to spending time with you and I will see you later on in the week for part 2!