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Celebrate fall at Aspen Ridge Alpacas’ Open Barn Days from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 28-29. Mickey Wright and Evelyn Simons, owners of Aspen Ridge Alpacas, invite the public to bring a picnic and see the alpacas in the Jemez Mountains.
Activities will include guided tours of the ranch. Alpacas are children friendly and inquisitive. Learn about alpaca’s unique fibers and why the alpaca is perfect for the environmentally conscious.
There will be fiber art demonstrations, live music and an alpaca obstacle course. Shoulder and neck massages will be available, with all donations going to the family of Token Adams, a U.S. Forest Service firefighter who recently died in an accident while searching for a fire in the Jemez.
Alpaca fiber products (known for their incredible softness and warmth) will be on display and available for purchase including teddy bears, socks, scarves, gloves, sweaters, jackets, ruanas, headwear and finger puppets. The store also has a large selection of alpaca yarn, roving, and batts (checks or cash only). Visitors will have a chance to win gift certificates with several drawings during the weekend.
For the first time this year, each visitor or family will receive a free trial bag of alpaca “gold” compost as long as supplies last. The benefits of alpaca go beyond the quality of alpaca fiber. The “end product” also includes alpaca poop, a non-burning soil amendment that has enhanced gardens throughout the Jemez Valley. Aspen Ridge has supported Jemez Sustainable Solutions and the many Jemez residents whose gardens have benefited from alpaca “beans.”
Aspen Ridge Alpacas is located on Thompson Ridge, 13 Miles north of Jemez Springs and 32 miles from Los Alamos. Turn on the dirt road at Mile Marker 27 off Hwy 4 and follow the signs for four miles.
Alpacas are shorn, without harm, every 12 months. The alpacas at Aspen Ridge are shorn in May. Alpacas produce four to 10 pounds of fiber.
Because of its soft texture, alpaca fiber is sometimes compared to cashmere. Alpaca is just as warm as wool, yet a third of the weight of wool.
Containing no lanolin, alpaca fiber is also naturally hypoallergenic. Most people who are sensitive to wool find that they can wear alpaca without the itching or irritation they feel from wool because alpaca fiber is smooth. Additional performance characteristics include: stretch, water repellency and odor reduction. For travelers, clothing made from alpaca is desirable because it is wrinkle-resistant.
Alpacas come in 22 natural colors, but they are all green.
Alpacas prefer to eat tender grasses, which they do not pull up by the roots. Lacking upper teeth, alpacas “cut” the grass with their bottom teeth and upper palate.
Alpacas’ pellet-like droppings are PH balanced, and an excellent, natural, slow-release, low-odor fertilizer. This rich fertilizer is perfect for growing fruits and vegetables. Because alpacas consolidate their feces in one or two communal spots, it is easy to collect and compost.
Aspen Ridge Alpacas offers free bags of poop and invites gardeners to pick up the bags weekly. Call first since there is a waiting list. Return the bags for re-use or pay
50 cents per bag.