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Why Alpacas in Westchester?

It’s the question we are asked most frequently: “Why alpacas?” Our journey into the heart-warming and whimsical world of alpacas began in the fall of 2007.

Welcome to my new blog, Farm Life.

As a life-long resident of Yorktown Heights, I will explore issues related to farms and farming in Westchester County. Many of my posts will be about my personal farming venture as an alpaca breeder, but I will also write about other topics relating to farming in Westchester. I welcome comments and questions. Enjoy!

It’s the question we are asked most frequently: "Why alpacas?" Our journey into the heart-warming and whimsical world of alpacas began in the fall of 2007.

It was a life-changing moment.

While driving home from visiting our daughter in Vermont, I spotted a colorful herd of alpacas grazing on a roadside meadow. Of course I had to stop. A chocolate-colored cria (baby alpaca) wandered over to check me out. Picture this –an overgrown teddy bear with a long, graceful neck and the biggest, sweetest, most soulful eyes you’ve ever seen. She was covered with lustrous curls so fine you could see their softnesss. That curious little cria thrust me into the world of alpaca obsession.

With our youngest daughter in college, my husband, Steve, and I were looking for another venture for our Yorktown Heights farm. We already had horses and a huge organic garden, but we were looking for an additional business that would enable us to keep our beautiful property of rolling hills and big white barns intact as a farm.

My parents had bought this farm more than 60 years ago, naming it Faraway Farm because all their New York City friends thought Yorktown was so “far away.” The big question for us was whether or not we could have a viable business raising alpacas. We were smitten by them, but we needed to treat their purchase as a business investment that would help sustain our farm.

We decided to attend an upcoming alpaca show to learn more about raising alpacas. We talked with breeders, veterinarians and other alpaca professionals. We learned that alpaca farming is one of the two fastest growing agricultural industries in New York State (the other being organic farming). We liked the idea of raising animals that didn’t need to be hurt or killed to harvest their product. Alpaca fleece is shorn off painlessly with an electric clipper once a year, each spring. Then it is sent to a small New England fiber mill where it is spun into yarn. 

We quickly realized that an important part of our new business venture would be to sell our homegrown yarns and handmade garments, so we converted an old barn into a farm store. Our homegrown yarns are completely natural – no chemicals, detergents or dyes. We use some of our yarn to make wonderfully soft garments and throws – hats, scarves, gloves, shawls, etc. – but also sell our yarn to local fiber artists.

Alpacas are incredibly soft and they have more natural colors than any other fiber-producing animal. Their fleece is warm, yet lightweight. Originally from the Andean Mountains of Peru, Chile and Bolivia, alpacas played an important role in Incan culture. Domesticated more than 5,000 years ago, they have long been prized for their fleece, which at one time was reserved for Incan royalty and was called “the fiber of the Gods.”

So now in our fifth year of raising alpacas, we have no regrets. These enchanting animals have added immeasurable pleasure into our lives while helping us sustain our beautiful Westchester farm.

For more information about alpacas and Faraway Farm, visit our website: www.FarawayFarmAlpacas.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Leda Blumberg December 10, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Thank you, Elena. I look forward to seeing some of your gorgeous creations made from our alpaca yarns! Please visit again soon.
JM December 10, 2012 at 03:02 PM
What a great presentation and story to tell. New to the area and had no idea this farm existed. Will definitely come by!
YoungGrasshopper December 20, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Can't believe someone finally brought alpacas to the area. Since the summer of '69 I've been telling town officials we needed some alpaca flavor around here. No one listened. Now this guy is stealing all my glory. Fair play to him.

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