We brought home our small herd of alpacas in 2019. Our goal was to slowly introduce ourselves and our farm to this curious and gentle creature. In all honesty, we had no idea what we were doing!!! Once again, we were jumping in with both feet and seeing where it would lead us. We had been researching the basic care and temperament of alpacas, and we were certain we could handle just a few to get started.
When originally introduced to North America, there was a high demand for quality fiber and the investment cost to start a small herd was immense. There were some brave and adventurous local farmers who educated themselves on raising this unique livestock and a small market of registered alpacas entered Southwestern Ontario. Alpaca were bred and shown for quality fiber, local fiber co-ops were organized and several local businesses were established as a result of the growing popularity of this amazingly soft and warm fiber. In recent years, alpaca have become popular for their overall cuteness and when trained, their ability for human interaction that is unique from typical livestock.
At Jireh Hills, we absolutely love the peaceful experience of simply watching these beautiful animals grazing in the pasture or taking a walk around the trails alongside an friendly alpaca. They truly are the most curious animals we have on the farm, and they are always interested in what is going on around them. At chore time, they are quick to receive their snacks and ask for more! In the warmer months, they excitedly anticipate their daily swim in the “kiddie” pool and their refreshing hose down. One of our favourite activities is taking the girls for an alpaca-walk along the ponds and back to the Froggie-Boggie Boardwalk.
In addition to the fun interactions we have with the alpacas, our goal is to create a sustainable resource that gets put to go use on the farm! The alpaca “berries” are regularly added to our aerated compost system, or during the summer months when the gardens are in peak growth, we add alpaca compost “tea” to encourage maximum growth and nutrition.
Lastly, the alpacas provide us with an annual surplus of amazing fiber that can be used for a multitude of purposes on the homestead. The best fiber is used for felting on our handcrafted goat’s milk soap bar. If you haven’t already read about the benefits of goat’s milk soap, you can find more information from our link to Jireh Hills Soap Co. The combination of goat’s milk and felted wool provides your skin with a naturally moisture rich bar that gently exfoliates your skin with every wash.
The remaining fiber ends are either sold locally, used in our goat’s milk soap felting classes or recycled and used for crafting activities such as bird nesting balls and dryer balls.
Shearing takes place annually during the late spring. It’s a big job and there’s always something for everyone to do!
Our current herd consists of 3 females – Kira, Shekira and little Pearl (born here in 2020) and 3 males – Rainger, Patchie, and big Bear (born in 2020). We are hoping to establish a small breeding program within our own herd and welcome new cria in the summer months.
If you are interested in meeting our alpacas, be sure to register for upcoming Alpaca Encounters on our Eventbrite link. We look forward to seeing you!