Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Desert Air Alpaca Farm

Some months ago I joined an RV club called Harvest Hosts.  For a mere $35 per year I could stay for the night at one of the hundreds of wineries, u-pick-it farms or specialty farms that are also members.  It is merely a place to park, there are no hookups, and it is necessary to call ahead because there is very limited space for parking.  I had not had the opportunity to stay at one until recently while traveling to visit cousins outside of Atlanta so I checked the list and found this lovely spot on a rainy afternoon....

The Desert Mountain Alpaca Ranch

The road in was not far from the main thoroughfare,  and not bad, even though it was raining when I arrived.

Curious heads were watching me from the barn as I parked...

and a cacophony of barking sounds told me these occupants were well guarded. The owner of the ranch, Janice Buttitta came out to greet me and I learned that she and her husband, Tom, had recently moved their charming herd (what do you call a group of alpacas?)  plus 6 or more dogs from Arizona.

The beautiful animals were very curious and not the least bit afraid of this new visitor in their midst.

Janice's mother, Nellie Diaz, is also a willing participant in the care and upkeep of the Alpacas.


They are remarkably beautiful with the softest fur imaginable and just look at those eyelashes!

Janice knew the names and personalities of each and every one of her charges.

They are sheered once a year for their wool (?--what do you call alpaca hair?) and these were all sheared approximately 5 months earlier.   

They are sheered in the spring right before the heat of the summer and then they have the time to regrow the fur for the winter.

If their fur is this thick in only 5 months just imagine the thickness in another 7 months.  It is then turned into yarn and made into sweaters, caps, rugs and much more.  The animals are also bred and the offspring are sold to other potential alpaca farmers.

As I was strolling among the animals, Janice warned me when I started to get near the pile of 'Alpaca Beans' above.  "That's their bathroom!" she warned.
  I looked around and noticed that the yard was remarkably clean except for two or three piles like the one shown above.
"They all use the same few spots for defecating," Janice explained.  "As a result they are some of the cleanest farm animals you will ever find."

And that was definitely true, the barn did not smell like most barns I'd visited.  It actually hardly smelled at all.  I marveled at the efficacy of Alpaca farming.... raising lovable and friendly pets (no they do not spit!) who are naturally toilet trained and don't have to be slaughtered to produce an income.  What a deal!
Well, Nellie might not agree completely.  I found her shoveling up the bathroom piles the next morning--and it was raining again!  I guess there had to be a downside to this idyllic life after all.

I now consider my $35 membership fee in Harvest Hosts to be a real bargain--I would never have had this experience without them.

And for more information on Alpaca farming:


  1. Oh oh... Sighme has competition. Good thing there is no room in Halcyon II for one of these.

  2. They are obviously called a pack of Alpacas. Well, maybe not.