Alpaca – It’s just fun to say!
I took this Alpaca portrait at a antique farm machinery show that we came across on the way back from the cottage.
The following is copied from the Alpaca Ontario site http://www.alpacaontario.ca/index.html
Alpacas are small, endearing animals of the camelid family (other members include llamas, camels, vicunas and guanacos). They were domesticated over 5,000 years ago and became a cherished treasure of the ancient Inca civilization. Their fine cashmere-like fleece was once reserved for Incan royalty.
Alpacas produce fibre that is as fine as cashmere, soft, silky and much warmer than sheep’s wool. With the exception of mohair, alpacas produce the strongest animal fibre in the world. Their fleece comes in 22 natural colours, the widest assortment of colours of any fibre-bearing animal. Prized for its unique silky feel and superb handle, alpaca fibre is highly sought after by the textile makers of Britain, Europe and Japan.
Alpacas have a life span of 20 – 25 years. Adults weight 100 – 180 lbs and stand 34 – 36 inches high at the withers. Baby alpacas, called crias, generally weight 14 – 20 lbs at birth. Gestation is approximately 11 months. As a rule, alpacas are born during the day, usually between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Alpacas communicate through soft humming noises and a unique body language.
Today, in Canada, alpacas are raised for their exquisite fibre, and are enjoyed for their delightful personalities as well as the financial returns of raising and breeding them.
There are two types or breeds of alpaca, the huacaya and the suri, which differ primarily in the character of their fibre. The huacaya, the most common alpaca breed has a crimped or wavy fleece, whereas the suri has straight, lustrous fibre. In full fleece, the huacaya has a full, fluffy appearance, while the suri is elegantly draped in long, wavy locks.
Various worsted and woollen mills in Canada offer custom processing of alpaca fibre into various yarns, fabric and felt. Sweaters, blankets, mitts, socks, shawls, hats and duvets can be purchased through various home-based businesses.