The fall equinox lands on Friday, September 22. No matter the temperature, it’s officially sweater weather. More comfortable than cashmere or wool, and completely hypoallergenic, alpaca eece is ooding the market. Many wonder what an alpaca is, how an alpaca is different from a llama, and everything in between. Native to Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, alpacas were imported to the United States between the years of 1984 and 1998. Slightly smaller than llamas, and with a much softer eece, alpacas are a timid animal in need of protection. Faraway Farm in Yorktown is home to 24 alpacas. By appointment only, you can walk among them and enter their herd on a tour with proprietor Leda Blumberg. The tour ends with a stop in the gift shop, which is filled floor to ceiling with more alpaca products than one can imagine: dolls, stuffed animals, socks, sweaters, blankets, fleeces, yarn, gloves, and more.
Faraway Farm is a family owned and operated establishment in Yorktown Heights, New York. It previously functioned as the traditional farm, which raised chickens, horses, and crops. In the Hudson Valley with its seasonal climate, a farm of this nature is hard to keep a float. Leda Blumberg and her husband embarked on a quest for a new purpose for the farm and encountered alpacas. Leda and Steve were attracted to the idea of obtaining a great product, the fleece, without affecting the health of the animal, making the business rewarding. They began by educating themselves on the alpacas by taking training classes. Now, the pair can handle most of the animals’s needs; there is, however, an equine vet on call. The couple also brings in an outside source to shear the alpacas each May for their coats. What began as a few female alpacas was meant to be a strong foundation for the future of what would become this farm’s herd.
The quality of an alpaca is based on its fleece quality. Fleece is judged by uniformity, density and crimp architecture. Alpacas from Faraway Farm often compete in eece quality competitions. Numerous Faraway Farm alpacas have won blue ribbons and honors. Based on this rating scale, alpacas can range in price from 500 dollars to several thousand dollars. Besides quality, the fleece is also evaluated based on its color. Colors range from pure black to pure white. The dominant color among the species is white, but most of the alpacas at Faraway Farm are fawn, brown, gray and black. The United States currently recognizes 22 different alpaca eece colors, but there are gradations within each color.
Alpacas live in herds with no distinct leader. If one alpaca goes to pasture, others will follow, but typically a different one leads each time.
Alpacas are advanced in their way of using a communal bathroom and having a rather long gestation period of 11 and a half months. Twins are extremely rare as they almost always lead to a fatality.
For their emotional tendencies, alpacas hum to one another when stressed. Loud noises are only made when an alpaca is startled. Most are timid and do not enjoy being pet, especially on the back. If an alpaca is pet on the back, its instinctive reaction is to kick with its hind legs. They grow to about 150 to 200 pounds and have a three-compartment stomach. Food is regurgitated and chewed once again after entering the rst compartment.
A very desirable alpaca is a grey girl. Faraway Farm breeds primarily for the cottage industry, meaning that they like unique colors like rose or silver grey. Lighter color eece can be dyed and gradations make for interesting yarn and in turn products. The commercial industry prefers a lighter color eece as it can be dyed various colors.
From its origins, the farm’s business has greatly expanded. It not only breeds its alpacas but sells some offspring, the breeding services of select males, consulting, and photography. The farm also offers classes and learning experiences.
Lastly, of course, Blumberg and her husband opened their own thriving shop. The farm has attracted enough attention to be featured in The Journal News and on the Martha Stewart show.
By reservation only, you can experience alpacas just a few minutes away from home at Faraway Farm! It is truly wonderful to encounter these animals and a great learning experience for people of all ages.