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Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!) from Clyde, OH
Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!)

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Farm Name: Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!)

Year Farm Established: 2006

Location: Clyde, OH

Years I’ve been farming: 9 years

Animals I raise: Huacaya and Suri Alpacas. Count is up to 33! 7 new boy babies born this year and 1 new girl. Most of them are available for sale and wean at 6 months. They are: 'Dutch-White huacaya sold to a fiber farm' and "Golden Sovereign-Lt Fawn Huacaya." Sir Titus Salt was a white suri boy. Ridin Solo is a deaf blue eyed white huacaya and he is 'sold' and goes to a forever home in a fiber herd in New Mexico in March. Tussah is a Lt Fawn Suri, Terra Preta is a Lt Fawn huacaya, Poncho Via is bay black and he was the result of my "Rent a Womb" program. His owner is enjoying pictures but should finally have him (and mom for a bit longer)in November. The girl is Desert Song, a lt fawn huacaya and sold. Last years babies were 4 girls (Lenten Rose-White Huacaya, April Spice-Medium Fawn Huacaya,(both are available for sale) Lady Rowan-Dk Fawn Huacaya, Cherries Jubilee-Lt Rose Grey Huacaya, she sadly died Mar 2011) and 3 boys (Accoyo Trik-white Suri,(he is available for sale) Regis-Dk Fawn Huacaya, and Giorgio-True Black Suri). Farm Photo is of a dark Silver Grey boy (Super II) and his mom (Maple Sugar) both sold in Spring of 2008.

Crops I grow: Alpaca Rovings $2.00 per 1/2 oz washed, triple carded, and ready to spin. Alpaca handspun yarn 10 cents per yard. Raw alpaca fleece starting at $35 a bag for seconds from this year's shearing. Prime blanket are higher. Crimpy huacaya Alpaca Fleece, hand processed and ready for spinning or fiber arts.
Silky, high luster Suri Alpaca fleece, hand processed and ready for spinning or fiber arts. I also dye washed fleece many different colors using safe acid dyes and HANDSPIN yarn. I can produce 1/2 oz of yarn per hour of fairly even, consistently spun quality. Also have seedstock alpacas available so you can start your own fiber herd. Prices range from $500 each to $10,000 for the high quality, champion bloodlines I raise in all 22 colors.

I also raise redworms and Euros (start-up) for composting alpaca manure in pits and windrows.

Hobbies I enjoy: Reading, fiber arts, spinning yarn, knit, crochet, gardening, composting, worm farming, training the alpacas to halter/lead, herd management, daily farm chores.

Club/Associations memberships: Black Swamp Spinning Guild of Northwest Ohio, ARI, Small Alpaca Farms of America

The proudest moment on my farm: Every time the baby alpacas come check me out and give me kisses!Hatching out my first baby Welsummer Chick!

Pets: 2 dogs, 2 cat, 2 birds.25 chickens? 30 alpacas?

Farm Motto: You, too, can own an alpaca, it costs less than you think, and we'll be your bank!

Farm Blog
DescriptionDate & TimeEditDelete
  In an effort to improve our website for our visitors, we will be changing some of our service providers. We do not expect to experience any technical difficulties. However, if you are unable to access our website, please be assured it will be temporary as we transition to the new service. 10/19/2013 12:00.00 AM  
  I love your pictures! I've always thought it would be fun to get some Alpacas, but currently don't have the room. Maybe someday though! All the info on your page about raising the is great!

Come visit me, The Family Farm.

11/01/2011 09:56.37 AM Report This Comment  
  Your alpacas are so cute!

Come visit me, Llama Landing.

10/19/2011 04:37.05 PM Report This Comment  
  We named him Lazarus!!! And he has been wormed and a feed mill around here makes a specialty food for him (thanks to a neighboring vet/alpaca farmer!!) He has gained weight and his fiber is improving....He is such a sweetheart!

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

08/08/2011 12:24.28 PM Report This Comment  
  I HAVE AN ALPACA!!!!!!!!!!!! We rescued him! He is sooo sweet but he was a lil underweight and his fiber had a hard shell of cow manure all over his body...But he's been with us for a few weeks now he's all cleaned up putting on weight and is doing very well.... So excited!!!! Hoping to find him some mates soon. Right now he's enjoying the company of our goats and our newly rescued horse as well.

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

07/11/2011 09:43.49 AM Report This Comment  
  Hopefully getting my dream hobby farm soon!
I'm so excited. Today I may finally have found a property I can lease for my hobby farm! It already has a barn, goat shed, and chicken coop with run and 3 fenced acres for pastures, 2 garden plots and 30 fruit trees starting to bear fruit. I just need to put some kind of LIVING SPACE on it for HUMANS!! So the house can go up for sale, the alpacas can have a PERMANENT home, the chickens can come out of the basement. I'm thinking of a Farm Store and I can sell my eggs. The only drawback is having to haul in water. That will be an expense! Everyone wish me well in this new opportunity for Imaginary Farms! Cheers All! Bonnie

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

06/20/2011 06:22.51 AM Report This Comment  
  If you’re not already getting your bimonthly issues of Hobby Farms, you’re missing out on articles including livestock husbandry, sustainable agriculture and crop growth, equipment purchasing, successful small farms and agricultural events. Whether you are a newcomer or an experienced hobby farmer articles address the core information needed to succeed, but also delves into advanced how-to information. Every issue informs, educates and inspires readers to farm for pleasure or profit. Subscribe today -- 1 year (6 issues) as low as $15.00. 06/01/2011 01:07.18 PM  
  My little Chickies!
I have Welsummer Chicks in the brooders. A combination of hatchery lines that came from breeder to breeder to me as hatching eggs and other lines that are approved strains known to be producing birds very close to APA standards. Welsummers are a 'red partridge' colored medium weight Large Fowl chicken that lays an extremely dark speckled brown egg. They are single combed, have yellow feet, supposed to have 20% red/brown feathers on the chest of the rooster. No blonde or white chicks! They are all supposed to be the same chipmunk striped coloration. Girls have dark v's and eyeliner, Boys have a dark spot on the top of the head instead and no eyeliner. I am going to be culling to standard once I see how many I can hatch out, grow them out, and see where they are. Hopefully they will just go out to new homes and not freezer camp! I am hoping to work with this relatively NEW to the US chicken. By the way, the Kellogg's Corn Flakes Rooster was a Welsummer. They were just recently accepted into the standards in the US in 1991 or so! They originate from Holland and are popular in Germany and England. Even Australia has it's own 'strain' of Wellies!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

05/26/2011 04:43.41 AM Report This Comment  
  Raised Water Troughs
The problem is two fold with watering troughs and alpacas. One, they will just stand in it and they will raise up on their hind legs to get those dirty front legs into it if they can.

Raising it up a bit would probably keep them from getting completely into it and sitting down, which they also love to do!

I have seen one that was somewhat effective, it was raised up on blocks AND had a cover mounted over it so the alpacas could get their head in without getting stuck and that one seemed to be working but was on a 'auto refill' system.

My trough is out in the field and has to be low enough that crias can access the water, but high enough to keep the others from getting into it. Right now, I dump it, rinse, and refill it daily to try to keep the contamination from dirt down. (Parasite eggs.....)

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

05/26/2011 04:34.42 AM Report This Comment  
  Long time no chat!!!! But I did think of you today...I remember you telling me about the alpacas getting in to the water. I visited a farm today and they had raised troughs.....they just took some treated 2x6's and made a frame to support the trough and viola!!! It was off the ground and they didnt try to climb in it...

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

05/25/2011 03:24.07 PM Report This Comment  
  Chicks in the brooder
I have Welsummer Chicks in the brooder. Beginning to sound like most of them are from hatchery stock when I was told they were from breeder stock!!What a waste of $$ to have that happen and it is only AFTER they were HATCHED from the eggs I got in that I found out and they started fessing up. It was actually the breeder upline that fessed up! Live and learn. I do have some BETTER quality Welsummer eggs in the incubator and soon will have some chicks in from Show Quality Lines. Then I can grow them up and cull them out and develop my own line of Welsummers for chick sales and hatching eggs. What I have learned about shipped hatching eggs is that the motion during shipping messes up the yolks and the air sacs and really lowers the hatch rates. So from now on getting in hatching eggs through the post office is my last resort. They'll do better if I drive them home! Cheers all and check in on me now and then!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

05/13/2011 12:24.46 PM Report This Comment  
  New hens in isolation, good thing!
I picked up 4 hens for eggs NOW while I wait for my brooder pullets to grow up into layers. GOOD THING I isolated them. The one hen has a poopy butt from not squatting enough and will need a warm soapy bucket wash and blow dry. If that doesn't fix her up, we will have to see if something else is causing the problem.

3 of the hens have coarse bumpy skin on their legs. This is usually a result of leg scale mites. So wood ashes to dust themselves in, I'll have to catch them and rub their legs down with vaseline to suffocate the mites. I put a few drops of TEA TREE OIL in the vaseline and stirred it up well. It is a natural aid to rid 'unwanted critters'. They will need a treatment every 3 days or so. Since they are producing eating eggs, I don't want to use any medicines on them. Seven Dust is pretty safe, but still has a withdrawal period. May need to Ivermectin them. So we will see. They have settled into their indoor room in the greenhouse quite nicely. Yesterday I had two very large eggs!
But isolation is always keep when bringing in new livestock to a farm. It gives you a chance to observe the animal closely and check for behaviors or conditions and care for them before allowing them out into the whole farm population. These girls are destined for a chicken tractor for the summer that still needs to be built (spring RAINS/WINDS slowing that down). They are happy laying eggs for me and they are really pretty to watch. Glad I know what to do to make their legs feel better!. 2 Big Fluffy Light Sussex hens (on the RARE list), 1 Australorp hen--very pretty black and green and a bit of lacing, 1 Gold Laced Wyandotte -Red/Brown with black lacing I think she is my favorite. Cheers all!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

04/18/2011 07:16.52 AM Report This Comment  
  Helped with shearing for 52 alpacas!
A week ago friday, we (7 of us) teamed up to shear 52 alpacas. We 'ran 2 mats' and only had 1 person shearing. Someone had to catch and rope the legs of the alpaca and it takes two people to adjust the ropes and bring the alpaca down and position it stretched out on the mat. The shearer needs an assistant to hold the alpaca still, we had rakes and brooms to keep the extra flying cut fleece puffs from contaminating the next fleece. Someone was bagging the fleece as it came off the alpaca in one big blanket. We did annual shots. Someone else kept up tagging the bags and the fiber sample pouches with the correct name of the alpaca to get shorn and receiving the main blankets off into one area. We put all the seconds in mixed bags this year for crafters and the bits from the raking/sweeping went into the waste bin. I ended up coming home with 2 bags of seconds, the farmer kept 3, and the enthusiastic 'helper' that gathered the fleece went home with several more. It took the group 10 hours to accomplish the task and that did include a lunch break. I just hope I have that much help for my shearing of 27 alpacas in mid-May!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

04/10/2011 03:13.16 PM Report This Comment  
  Chick Starter Days!
Alas, I succumbed to chick starter days and acquired New Hampshire Reds and Golden Comets (Hens only!). Now they are under the heat lamp, fed crumbles daily, bedding changed and going through a gallon or so of water daily! So far, it's been a week and all seem to be doing well and GROWING! They won't be laying eggs until September, so unless I keep them under some kind of lighting over the winter (14 hours daily for eggs), there won't be any! I am hoping that they can have a few of those red wiggler composting worms and can help scratch up my garden beds and turn over the leaf litter. They will have to be in a chicken tractor, or two, to keep them safe from predator's. I'll just have to keep them in buckets of fresh water and an extra ration of grower crumbles. Come cooler temps, they get to go into the end of the garage where there is a pit greenhouse, OR find their way into a corner of the barn where I 'spose I can build them a warm winter roost and exercise area! And if push comes to shove and we are overwhelmed by chickens, well, the worms love egg shells, the dogs can have the yolks and the whites are AWESOME for my diet. I'm not above EATING chicken, either, though I would PREFER to just eat the eggs. so write and tell me about how YOU do chicken keeping! Many thanks, Bonnie

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

03/18/2011 09:34.05 PM Report This Comment  
  Busy Chasing Spring
The alpacas are now half wormed. Need to hit them with the second medicine to get rid of the other half of the parasites. Wet fall weather, winter melts, all add up to parasite exposure.

The summer/fall crias are all almost weaned off. The best cria produced last year was Golden Sovereign. He has so much fleece I had to trim him around the eyes so he could see. Clearly a herdsire when he finishes growing!

I've been busy over at a favorite website about red worm composting with Bentley. I went ahead and ordered more Reds and Euros and restarted my worm bins. I have lots of barn waste (hay/straw/alpaca manure) that is well aged from last year and plan to put it through the redworms to turn it into black gold MUCH FASTER and with LESS WORK TURNING A COMPOST PILE. The composting worms can eat 1/2 lb of waste per day per lb of worms. So that is all the vegetation/manure waste, including your kitchen scraps, coffee grounds/filters, junk mail, newspapers, etc. The worms also reproduce every 2-4 months, easily 120 offspring each, so they multiply over time if well supplied with food, moisture, oxygen, and temperature. Caring for the worms a couple times a week is optimal and easy and it will eliminate the alpaca poo! I do have to caution anyone starting out with vermi-composting to start with a small sized bin until you learn the proper ratios and methods of raising them before you go hog wild farming worms. These are also the ones that are a good size for bait worms. The Euros are larger than the Red Wigglers, but the Wigglers reduce waste faster.

Come spring, the bins will be heaving with worms and I can put some of the overflow into the worm trenches/windrow I set up last summer. Cheers all.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

03/02/2011 02:44.03 PM Report This Comment  
  Yes I agree I do need to get on here more. But we have been extremely busy with work, the animals and remodeling the house!Plus I have been trying to get my website for my business going and making time to get all that stuff made and shipped out in a timely order. It's totally kicking our butts! Plus the weather has put alot of extra work on the to do list. I can't wait until spring...speaking of which I need to get my seed order in! ASAP! Hopefully soon I will be able to quit my job and just work from home. That would be awesome.

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

02/13/2011 06:59.06 AM Report This Comment  
  Just dropping by to check on things your way. I love all your alpaca advice you gave! I just read it all and saved it for reading later...I am hoping this year we are able to get a few for our farm. My friend has 1 alpaca and I am trying to get hime to let me have/buy him from him. He is in a field with cows. Breaks my heart to see an animals just go to waste. He is taken care of as far as food but as far as everything else goes he is not. And it is heartbreaking! Oh and I googled where you are from and I think you are about 3-4 hours away. So I thought maybe sometime this summer/spring if you don't mind we could make a trip out your way. Well hope all is well and stay warm! it's a whole 8 degrees here today in PA!

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

02/09/2011 09:46.17 AM Report This Comment  
  Gardening Profits from your backyard hobby farm!
Another thing to think about as you walk about your little patch of heaven on your farm, are how can you use a little bit of space to grow your own landscape plants and flowers as well as vegetables and herbs. With the compost from your animal manure, you can have a robust garden. You can grow your own herbs and add these for sale at your farm store. Small herb plants, the cut herbs themselves, and lots of crafts and products from the herbs. But you can do this with landscape plants as well and in a very small area create your own backyard growers area for landscape plants. You can add a plant mail order business to you income streams will just a little effort and the mature plants on your property. For more information on growing cuttings for freeplants and start reading up on this method, search on backyard growers and freeplants.com. You don't have to buy into a grow system, but you can start your education there and try your hand at it.My current favorite place to buy started cuttings, called 'liners' or baby plants for trying out my growing ability is from south carolina at http://www.justplantssc.com/ They have done backyard growing of baby plants for several years and have a good changing supply. Just passing along some of my favorite links and ideas for more ways to bring in a little money during these hard times. Another good choice for a farm would to be consider growing your own dyeplants for dyeing your own fleece/fibers or harvesting and selling to other crafters or in your farm store. The Afghan War has decimated the world supply of red madder and seeds and plants are infrequent and harder to come by. These plants thrive in zone 6 and can be grown in zone 5 with heavy mulch protection. They take 3 years growth to first harvest of the roots (the main source of dyestuff, but the topgrowth can be used for a different shade until matured). Then the roots are dug chopped and soaked then dried and sold. My other favorite plant is the lavenders because I have fleece and am always on the alert for seed/flour/wool moths and lavender helps deter them. So start thinking about putting in a 4x8 plot of plants or doing a landscape cuttings nursery and selling those to add to your farm income!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

02/06/2011 06:48.27 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for Business Profits Part 9
So we have brushed on some of the basics of alpaca care and things to consider. In a BUSINESS, you have to have a PRODUCT, so I would like to share some thoughts with you. The alpaca industry actually has multiple streams of income. There is a whole 'show' aspect to the business. There are auctions online, as well as at larger farms. There is agisting alpacas on your farm and taking on boarders. There are providing seminars on a wide variety of subjects regarding the alpaca and its fleece. There is transporting alpacas. There is selling stud fees to your herdsires. There is shearing the alpaca. There is providing a farm store where you sell alpaca related items from your farm. There is the whole cottage industry aspect. Different levels of fleece processing from washing, drying, picking, carding it yourself to running a mini mill operation. There is dyeing the fleece and selling it in various stages to crafters. There is the whole idea of handspinnning, knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving your own products. You can even raise and sell hay for alpacas or become a distributer for various products you find useful. And you can compost or use worms to compost your manure and sell it as well.
BUT, to be in BUSINESS, you have to have customers and you have to have a Market, and you have to have a PRODUCT. Currently, sales are low of alpacas in the US. Prices are widely variable across the nation as farmers enter into and leave the business depending on their age, illness, or employment and the economy. Alpacas are still selling and at all price levels. Prices may or may not be related to the show quality of the alpaca, its bloodlines, or the situation of the seller. This is one of the reasons why it is beneficial to the new alpaca entrepreneur to learn about how to care for the alpaca, decide what product it is going to sell as it's main business focus, and to have a good business plan in place prior to being caught up in the exciting and rewarding 'lifestyle' of alpaca ownership. You need to have a plan for attracting customers to you and what you are willing to do to advertise your farm and its products. You should also access your skills and your interests.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 09:53.04 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas For Profit Part 8
Here I want to mention a bit about keeping your alpacas at another alpaca owner's farm. In the industry, this is called 'agisting.' This is advantageous to the beginning alpaca owner for LEARNING about the care and management of alpacas. Some times during your ownership, agisting is needful and appropriate. Perhaps you have purchased a pregnant dam and are uncertain or unavailable to monitor the birth. Maybe the due date is in the late fall, winter, or early spring where temperatures would be hazardous to the newborn cria. Not ALL alpaca sellers that agist will give the same level of mentoring or exposure to the alpacas. I have to precaution you that boarding contracts usually include a NONLIABILITY clause in the event of illness, injury, or death to your alpaca. They also include clauses about total care of the alpaca being under their control. There is a list of additional expenses and fees that can be charged to you under the 'normal herd care' provided on their farm. Furthermore, they may or may not choose to call in a vet to care for your alpaca until it is too late. Because you have signed off as a part of the boarding contract, the nonliability clause, they are completely not responsible if the alpaca is lost and you typically have no recourse against them. They are also spending YOUR DOLLARS as they see fit. Frequently, this is over and above the actual cost of caring for an alpaca on your farm. Typically, it would cost you $1 a day for your alpaca on your farm, including normal medical care. So they are charging Agisting Fees of $2.50-$4.00 a day IN ADDITION to miscellaneous fees and sharing of vet visits to their farm. As a beginner in the business, you should seek a facility that will allow you to be present and participate in the care of your alpaca and be advised of every expense BEFORE they are occured on your alpaca. From a business perspective, agisting is only COST EFFECTIVE for SHORT TERM situations and you should plan for doubling or tripling of the monthly bill for agisting in your business plan. It is detrimental to the profitability and the business model to engage in agisting for the long term or for an increasing number of animals. Once you own two and you understand how to care for them, you need to bring them home. So you DO need to plan ahead, budget your expenses, allow for 'additional costs' in your budget, and LIMIT BUYING until you are READY to manage them yourself. This is for your benefit and the future profitability of your business! You can visit alpaca farms, attend seminars, offer to help out with the care of alpacas locally, PRIOR to purchasing an alpaca. It is best to get yourself the management training you need PRIOR to purchasing an alpaca. It is usually an emotional decision to BUY TODAY and agist, rather than waiting until you are trained and ready, not a business decision. Please try to curb this urge. You need to maintain control over your animals and your dollars spent to maintain profitability!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 09:23.14 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for Business Profits Part 7
Pasturage and drylot must be considered as well as appropriate grain mixes, mineral supplements, and hay resources. Due to problems with Milk production, we avoid FESCUE grasses. In the North/Midwest, we currently use Orchard Grass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Brome, and a slight amount of Alfalfa. Some timothy is also useful in pasture management and in hay. Timothy will develop long seedheads that will get into the alpacas fleece and cause problems 'debris' in the shorn fleeces. So an ideal time for timothy would be prior to head development and AFTER spring shearing until the fleece starts growing again. Even sowed at the rate of 5%, alfalfa can take over a pasture. Hay sourced here in Ohio is usually Orchard Grass Hay, 2nd and 3rd cut, with up to 30% of alfalfa in the diet. Baby alpacas, (crias) can be started on 100% alfalfa hay in the creep feeder along with an appropriate high protein creep feeder grain to help start establishing their rumen starting around age 2-3 months of age. Note crias should nurse until 6-7 months of age and mothers will often wean them off themselves or we can choose to separate them.
Pastures should be set up so that the animals can be rotated on them for pasture growth and parasite minimization. Parasites crawl up the grass blades and are eaten by the alpaca. But they are usually only found in the first 2-3 inches from the ground. Nutrition on Orchard Grass Pasture is highest at the 6-9" level. So it makes sense to divide the pastures and allow them to graze for a couple of weeks, then switch over to the next pasture. Corridors between pastures can be set up as well and used as additional interim grazing areas or for herding between pastures. They are also great to use for halter training young alpacas.
As for HAY SOURCING, find your local hay farmers and secure your hay requirements early in the summer each year. Hay is cheaper if you pick it up out of the field. Fresh put up hay is next cheapest, and sometimes the farmer will deliver it for a small fee and put it up for you. Work with your hay farmer, determine how much hay you will need throughout the year, pay for it in advance of delivery to secure your pricing. From September into February, the price of hay starts increasing. Before the pastures are ready for grazing and farmers have their first cut hay ready to sell, prices can get higher and hay is scarcer. You will want to have some hay on hand YEAR ROUND even if you have pasture in the summer months. We have found here in the winter months that we can get about 12 feedings from a 50# bale of mixed orchardgrass/alfalfa hay. That was our experience last year from November through March and into April until they could be put out to pasture. So remember to source and purchase your hay EARLY and to work with and develop relations with a couple of your local hay producers. The closer you are to your hay farmer, the least cost it will be for you. Our annual goal is to raise and feed alpacas for no more than $300

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 09:02.02 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for Profit Part 6
Alpacas require at least a 3 sided, roofed shelter positioned out of prevailing winds and large enough so they can stay dry in wet, rainy weather. In colder climates, access to a barn is advised, especially in winter. You can build new shelters or modify existing ones. Alpacas should be on high enough ground in the shelter to stay out of flooding. Shelters should have good airflow in hot summers if being used for shade. Unless provided an OVERHANG, alpacas will start a poop pile in their shelter. In inclement weather, they prefer to NOT use their outside poop piles! For parasite management, poop is best removed from barns, paddocks, shelters, and pastures DAILY. It is best placed in an area OUTSIDE all alpaca enclosures. Maintaining a large built up manure pile inside of any alpaca enclosure is ensuring a future parasite problem in the herd. It will also encourage a large problem with flies. This said, it is the ammonia from the urine that smells bad, alpaca poo itself is of very low odor when compared to other livestock. They do use a 'community' poo pile, which can spred if not kept cleaned up to larger and large area as they prefer not to walk in it too deep. If you are using LLamas in your herd, the poo piles will spread wider faster as the animal is longer than the alpaca. Keeping them cleaned up minimizes the space they take up, reduces biting flies and flies, and reduces the parasite exposure.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 08:31.16 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for Profit Part 5
So we have talked about tax advantages, got you thinking about WHERE you are going to keep the alpacas, thinking about the structures involved and fencing and pasture and barns, a bit about separating the girls and the boys, veterinary care, and fleece type. Here I just want to say a little more about WHY we FENCE alpacas!
Alpacas are fenced as much as to keep them where you want them, as to keep them off roadways and out of other naturally occuring dangers. We fence our alpacas to keep the fertile boys away from the girls so that we can control the breedings and the due dates. Consequently, the fencing around the boys are usually sturdier than the fencing around the girls. The boys will challenge the fences and try to stand up on them to get at the girls as is their nature! The girls that are open and want to be bred will often spend time 'kushed' or sitting down, alongside the boy's fencing. The other IMPORTANT reason that we provide fencing for the alpaca is to keep out PREDATORS. The highest loss predator for alpacas is the local DOG that is allowed out running loose or in packs. They will chase the alpaca and they will tear at their legs and damage their tendons and there have been many instances of this documented in the US. Sometimes it is the family pet, most frequently it is a neighbors dog, or dogs that have been 'dumped' and are lost and running free. Usually the alpaca has to be put down. Other predators can be coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and bears, depending on where you live. So we fence our alpacas to keep OUT these predators as much as we do to keep the alpacas IN.
The outside perimeter of your farm should be fenced with an eye to DOGS and other local predators and keeping them out. Less expensive fencing can be used to divide pastures and create corridors for handling the alpacas and managing them. The area where we are keeping the boys is also going to have sturdier fencing because they WILL figure out how to escape and get to the girls. The GATES and the system used to secure gates are usually the easiest access route for break outs or break ins. Remember on your perimeter gates, if using the typical metal tube cattle gates, to use wire and electrical tyes and cover them so that coyotes and dogs cannot climb through them. Keep your gate posts close enough together that there isn't a gap there, either. Additionally, think about pasture management and the size of EQUIPMENT that you will need to get into and out of your pastures, whether tractors for hauling in supplies, mowers for pasture management, trucks for dropping off hay and building supplies and possible gravel. If you are in an area with WHITETAIL DEER, you will have to consider how you will manage them as well as they carry a worm deadly to the alpaca, menengeal worm. Most farms set up a monthly injectable worming program of Ivermectin to deal with the worm and try to minimize exposure to the secondary infectant, the slug.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 08:16.36 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for Profit Part 4
Question 2 is who is going to be your veterinarian? How far away from where you are going to house your alpacas is the nearest camelid (alpaca) trained veterinarian? What about a large animal veterinarian that currently treats other ruminants or horses? Any vet can consult with the state veterinary school on camelid care, but that vet may not be up to date on current camelid care practice. You may have to help 'train' your local vet on camelids, provided they are willing! It is beneficial to have the nearest large animal vet to you to be updated on camelid care and treatments. They can do a lot for you on immediate, lifesaving, emergency care until you could get the animal to the nearest Camelid vet. Our local large animal vet is able to do a lot of our routine vet care. This saves us tremendously financially due to travel costs and time. Typically our farm visit costs $50 plus the added 'work' done on the farm. Some vets charge so much an hour, others add travel expenses, and some will charge a flat rate and as much 'work' as can be done while they are there. Usually if you have to drive your sick alpaca to a state vet school for care there, provided they do it, the costs can go up into $1000 or more. It is most cost effective to develop your local large animal vet for camelid care, find the closest camelid vet for special cases, and use the state vet school for urgent care that may be required. Ultimately, one has to realize whether this is a BUSINESS, a HOBBY, or a PET. One has to weigh the purpose this animal is for, what it has cost you, what it will cost to replace it, and how much you want to spend to 'save' it. While alpacas routinely cost very little to care for and usually require minimal vet care, a new alpaca owner may find themselves calling on their vets more frequently during the learning process or when unexpected situations arise. There should be a PLAN to address the level of veterinary care and those expenses that you are prepared to undertake in your business plan and monies should be set aside to cover the unexpected for each animal.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 07:53.44 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for Profit Part 3
Here is a list of things to consider when deciding to enter into alpaca ownership. 1) Where are you going to ultimately house your alpacas? Do you need to acquire land. Is there a nearby pasture that you can get a longterm lease on? Can you build appropriate shelters and provide fencing for safety? Alpacas are a ruminant and a herd animal. They actually do best when kept in groups of 3-4 or more alpacas. Most sellers will insist that you have a minimum of 2 alpacas housed together when taking them home. You can purchase them from different sellers, but ultimately you need to have at least 2 when you bring them home. Three to 4 would be better for less stress.
Please note that there are two different fleece TYPES of alpaca. One is the huacaya alpaca, whose fleece is crimped like a merino sheep and stands out away from the body like a fuzzy fluffy teddy bear. It's wool is best suited to woolen yarns, most popular for use in knitted goods. The other is the Suri alpaca, which currently makes up 10% of the American herd. It's fleece hangs down with twist like dredlocks and the fiber is best suited to worsted yarns used in crocheting shawls and making woven fabric and items that drape. The structure of the suri fiber is very glasslike and flat and slips easily against itself. So items made from it tend to elongate over time and stretch. Both fibers are currently used to make yarn and felted items in the cottage industries in the US.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 07:41.05 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for business profits Part 2
There are many, many aspects to the alpaca business to learn. I have been raising alpacas since 2006 AND I continue to learn more every year! This is not because I didn't learn everything I could in the beginning. This is because the ALPACA is an introduced, exotic, species to North America AND since it has only recently been declared 'livestock' here, there hasn't been as much research done on the alpaca as there has been on sheep, goats, cows, and horses here in the United States. There have been huge efforts financed by the alpaca industry and there has been dedicated research at many of the veterinary colleges in response to the need to service the industry and maintain the animals in as healthy condition as possible. But it isn't the same as the multi-billion dollar interest in raising the nations other livestock. Because of this, the new alpaca owner has many difficulties facing them to maintain their animals in a healthy state at the lowest possible business model cost.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 07:22.22 AM Report This Comment  
  Raising Alpacas for Tax Advantages
Today I read an article in the local newspaper about a farm in Vermont that raises alpacas. The articles stated that due to the extended 2010 tax advantage, that alpacas can help seriously reduce your annual taxes on gross income. I will like to start writing a couple of thoughts on how best to take advantage of tax deductions for alpacas and eventually, guidelines for making your alpaca adventure a profitable business adventure.
Like all farm interests, alpacas provide much the same tax deductions for short and long term depreciation. The current article stated that if you purchased an alpaca for $10,000, the current tax law states that you can depreciate that alpaca 100% and thereby reduce your tax liability by $4000. I am not a tax accountant. In my situation, my tax accountant did not take advantage of the 'Section 179' Tax Advantage. My situation was different and she felt my best advantage was in a longer term tax depreciation. She took the tax losses back against prior income and I received legal refunds against previous tax years and the rest of the depreciation was used annually against current income. This is because I had a large outlay in expense in the beginning and low earnings in the year I began my alpaca business. On my website, www.imaginaryalpaca.com I have an article about the Section 179 Tax to help explain those advantages. There is one thing to be said about entering into the alpaca industry and that is to go SLOWLY and follow a well thought out plan to make it not only an investment but a profitable business adventure as well!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/26/2011 07:12.36 AM Report This Comment  
  Deep Freeze Ohio January 2011
We are in a really deep freeze. I am hauling hot water out to my barn, about 15 gallons a day for the girls, then they make do with the automatic well water that is heated only enough to not freeze. I could give the herd of 21 more hot water, but I visit it once a day and sometimes that last gallon is frozen in the tub. But they really go for the fresh hot water as soon as I pour it in! I've started doing this since the deep cold of winter hit around here. It has been all through December in the 20's and January dropping down into the single digits.
Last night at the barn, it was 1 degree F and the herd just wanted to lay outside in the snow rather than stay inside the barn! I know these alpacas are wearing a nice thick winter coat, but that is just ridiculous. Cheers all! Bonnie

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/24/2011 02:39.17 PM Report This Comment  
It never fails to happen, the rains come and the fecals start showing parasite eggs! Parasites live on the pasture grasses at the ground to 3 inch level. Two ways to help manage the parasite load in your herd are to, 1) remove the manure from the pastures every couple of days at the minimum. Parasite eggs live in the manure, hatch out into larvae, and crawl up the grass blades, get consumed by the animal.
2) Rotate your pastures so that they are eating the better quality grasse that is 4-8 inches tall, then moving them to a different pasture when it gets too short.
3) Do regular fecals on individuals in the herd. A group fecal can tell if there is a problem, then individual fecals can tell which animal has the higher problematic loads and should be treated.
4) Have an established protocol for treating for parasites. Know which parasites can be a problem in your herd and what drugs treat them and how to administer those drugs. Some drugs are not appropriate for babies or for pregnant moms. And some are not appropriate for lactating/milk. They have a 'withdrawal' period for consumption of the milk (it still makes good SOAP!).
5) Overcrowding, overgrazing are both conditions under which parasites can get a hold on your animals. Also, when manure is left to sit in the barn and in the pasture. So proper management practices can help reduce the effect that parasites have on your herd.
I now own a microscope and centrifuge and am learning how to run my own fecals. I am familiar with the parasites that ALPACAS can get. Remember when it thaws and the rains cause the manure to spread all over the paddock, that parasite eggs are also being spread around. Establish a place for that manure that your animals cannot be exposed to. I use windrows and after they have aged for a while, I use RED WIGGLER composting worms to reduce it to compost faster. I add them at the oldest end of the row and continue adding fresh materials to the far end of the row from the worms. As they eat their way down the row, I can remove the old composted material for my gardens!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

01/02/2011 08:49.44 AM Report This Comment  
  North Sequim, Dungeness
So we are actually in Dungeness, near the Three Crabs (if you know where that is). As for Chickens, not sure yet, we are just working on being more self sustainable. So mainly some good egg layers. Probably start out with a few and well, you knnow it's hard to stop. As for California, we lived in Yuba City (north of Sacramento) 26 years. Had the 15x20 side yard with a veggie garden. Was planning chickens there, but now we have the room for sure.

Come visit me, Sequim Dungeness.

12/27/2010 12:16.04 PM Report This Comment  
  Christmas BREAK!
The big day is over, but the 'teen party' is tomorrow. All 5 loaves of fruitcake have been eaten or disbursed. They were a HUGE HIT. So I have a new item I should probably SELL! I finished my grain haul (3 trips to Michigan) and it should last for the winter. Have a month's worth of hay in and more secured. Have to feed out hay until summer pastures come in around April/May time frame. Still working on DOWNSIZING the herd. Finding a home for 1 more yearling boy alpaca is A MUST! His name is Accoyo Trik, he is a white suri alpaca with AWESOME fiber and related in my herd so I can't use him! Yearling boys need to be separated from the girls because even though they may NOT be able to get them pregnant, they like to practice a lot and that is not good for the girls. They can't go in with the older boys because they are still too small. Since I only have 2 areas for my alpacas, it becomes a huge management problem! I do get to spend time with my alpacas in the barn everyday in the winter, since they aren't out on pasture. It's a good time to check them out thoroughly, they get more used to me being among them, it's just a bit cold outside for halter training them (like 10-20 degrees!). Still I spend 2-3 hours a day in the barn keeping busy cleaning their 'stall', feeding them, and commute to and from the barn! Cheers and Merry Christmas/Happy New Year to all! Bonnie

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

12/26/2010 05:22.15 AM Report This Comment  
  Sequim and PA
Thanks for stopping my my page. Actually I'm new to Sequim. Originally from PA as in Pennsylvania but just moved here 3 months ago from California. Had a city house there with a small garden in the back yard. Now with a bit of room, looking forward to spreading out a bit and growing more crops and raising a few animals. Right now were just raising a few Raccoons that keep getting into the bird feed.LOL...But progress will happen soon. Enjoyed checking out your Alpacas. Thats quite a ranch you have there. We checked out a small Alpaca ranch in Sequim during the Farm tour in October.

Anyway, keep in touch and stop by and look for the progress.

Keep in touch and watch for the progress.

Come visit me, Sequim Dungeness.

12/25/2010 06:24.44 PM Report This Comment  
  Rum Soaked Fruitcake!
I made my first ever batch of rum soaked fruitcake! One batch turned out 5 two pound loaves. It contained slivered almonds and crushed pecans, 1 container of mixed deluxe dried citrus with cherries, Dates, Raisins, Dried Cranberries, topped with whole pecans and candied cherries down the middle. Spiced with nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. I followed a recipe for French Colonial Fruitcake. I soaked the raisins in a pint jar filled with 1/2 cup of rum. Turned and shook it up throughout the day, then I added all the rest of the dried fruit and nuts to a bowl with those raisins and added another 1/2 cup of rum and stirred it up and let it soak during the next day. After pouring out the finished batter into the loaves and baking slow for 3 hours, I cooled the cakes, soaked linen in rum and wrapped the cakes up in the dripping cloths, put them back into the tins and wrapped it all up in tinfoil then plastic to soak. I let them soak until dry, 2-3 days, then resoaked the cloths in rum, wrapped them up again, tinfoil across the top of the tins sealed it all in nice, wrapped them up in the GREEN plastic wrap and they were ready for gift giving or for sale at my farm store. Fruitcake cost up to $8 a pound for the ingredients including the rum plus the cost of the time it takes to make and soak them and your supplies like the tins and linens or gauze or muslin for wrapping and plastic. Mine turned out moist and luscious, very rum flavored, not a lot of alcohol as the raisins content was cooked out but the soaking was absorbed about 1/3 inch all around and rum is only 21% alcohol. So a very pleasant flavor resulted. I have bought Fruitcake online not nearly this moist or well flavored for $16 a lb. Really a 2 lb loaf is the best size to buy and sell and you can choose your own pricing for your farm store and your friends! AND you can make them any flavor you want, any fruit content you like, custom to your customer. You could soak them in juice if you don't like alcohol. But you won't get as 'preserved' of a cake. I only have 2 left and one is spoken for out of the 5. In your farm store, you can cut one cake into tiny bite sized samples and sell the rest at up to $32 a two lb loaf! Cheers all and Merry Christmas!

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

12/21/2010 05:51.31 AM Report This Comment  
  Making Soap From Goat's Milk

Thank you so much for your input in making soap from goat's milk. It was very helpful. I think I will try some without milk first to get the hang of it and then try it with the milk. Your Alpacas are wonderful! My brother in law had about 10 of them, but had to sell them when he moved from his farm. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wendy, City Girl Farm

Come visit me, City Girl Farm, LLC.

11/25/2010 08:08.25 AM Report This Comment  
  Too much alpaca manure? Compost it with worms!
After letting my alpaca poo piles rest and get rained on for a couple of weeks to leach out all of the worming medicines we have to give our alpacas due to being in a white tail deer area (meningeal worm threat), I move my alpaca manure home to near the garden area, out of scent of our fun outdoor living spots and make a 'windrow' of the manure/straw mixture. It is about 2-3 feet wide and maybe a foot to 18 inches high, has a carbon/nitrogen ratio of about 60 carbon/40 nitrogen, I soak it well, cover it with straw and introduce my redworms at one end of the row. I add new materials at the opposite end of the row and if it hasn't rained, I give it additional water. The worms work their way down the row. I do soak straw for 24 hours in an old kiddie pool and put a good thick 4 inch layer of the wet straw down first before adding my alpaca/straw to the top. Moisture in the finished row should be that of a wrung out sponge. You can cover it with lots of wet newspaper or more wet straw. We don't want it heating up like a compost pile, that would cook the worms, too! The worms eat it all up, leave behind worm castings and lots of eggs for making more worms. I can do this in my garden paths as well between my raised beds, putting lots of straw at the bottom and dry straw at the top. The worms grow and multiply and add fertilizer to my paths. The next year I just put my 4x8 garden frames in the other direction and most of the plants have access to the vermicompost. For more on these methods you can go over to redwormcomposting dot com because Bentley writes great blogs on worms! Cheers all! Bonnie in Clyde, OH at Imaginary Alpaca Ranch

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

11/19/2010 06:58.56 AM Report This Comment  
  Copperheads in the garden!
Back 40, how you live with copperheads, I'll never know. I don't like piled up rocks around here because they end up with safe garter snakes making homes. I just am not comfortable with poisonous snakes anymore. I grew up in desert sand and sagebrush with rattlesnakes, scorpions and black widows. I don't know how mom survived the stress, we always had to deal with them on a daily basis. The snakes usually only out on the paths and near the brush.

Look up COMMON GROUND, Bio intensive Gardening, John Jeavons, Bountiful Gardens. Their catalogue has stuff you can plant NoW to help break up that clay over the winter. Sounds like you don't want a heavy straw mulch if copperheads are going to make it their home, you want to dig it in now.

John Jeavons took a hard clay parking lot (after having the blacktop removed) and turned it into a highly productive, fertile, high organic matter gardens in Palo Alto California. His techniques and methods are designed for heavy Clay soils. Then after finishing his phd at Stanford, he relocated to Willits California and started Bountiful Gardens and shares his methods worldwide.

It sounds like you have EARTHWORMS. They are different than composting worms or manure worms. Earthworms burrow up and down and hibernate in the cold season about 3 feet below in the soil. The composting/manure worms live in the top 12 inches and prefer manure piles and the lightly leafy debris found on the surface of the soil. Redworms are the main composters with 'Euros" or 'Super Reds' being somewhat larger. The euros reproduce slower and consequently eat less, but are better for selling as fish bait because of their larger size. You could also look into 'Lasagna Gardening' where you layer soil and compostibles on top of your soil. It has to be cool enough not to burn plant roots. A compost pile doesn't grow stuff on it until it has cooled enough for the roots to survive.

For Johns system, he double digs his beds, removing the first shovelful of soil from a row. Then taking the digging fork and loosening up the next deep down 'spit' of soil with the fork. Then he will mix in his organic supplements with that top shovelful of dirt and toss it back in so it stays loose, lightly rakes it smooth and plants it. AND never walks on it again. So he gardens in wide rows or beds with paths.

He recommends prepping only one 4x8 bed the first season as you learn the system.

A third method is the square foot gardening method where you make a frame on top of the soil 4x4 and fill it with your growing materials and forget about what lays below it!

It is important to prep the soil now for spring planting, maybe just seed a winter growing covercrop over the whole garden so you can dig it over in the spring and it will also help keep the soil from compacting over the winter.

Stay in touch! Bonnie

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

11/19/2010 05:46.03 AM Report This Comment  
  Composting in the Garden
Thanks so much for all the information!
It sounds like we've tried some of the same things. We planted one row of clover and oats this summer in an attempt to provide some green manure and break up the soil. It didn't result in nearly as much as we thought it would, but lessons were learned and that's good enough for me for now. For now... !
We have a pretty good worm population in the garden, big ones that look like little snakes. They freak the boys out quite a bit in the summer! In addition to the worms we also have copperheads, so they always jump back at the sight of the bigger earthworms to be certain first.
Today is my day off from class so I was hoping to get out there and work some leaf mulch in....it's raining. Ain't that the way!?

Come visit me, The Back 40.

11/18/2010 07:58.07 AM Report This Comment  
  Make homemade lye soap add income to your farm!
Since you have a farm, why not open a little craft/farm booth? You can sell product on your farm and help pay for the grain/hay, etc.

I grow lavendar and make cold process lye soap. I can scent the oils by steeping the lavender plant/buds in olive oil and closing the lid. I also add lavender buds to the soap in the last stage before pouring it out into my mold.

Basically you take lye and pour it into water in one bucket. In my canning kettle on the stove, I melt my oils. It is best to use hard oils and liquid oils for a better balanced soap. I use what I find at the grocery store without too much trouble. I get coconut oil in a jar at Wal-Mart next to the Crisco Shortening. I also use crisco because it is a blend of soybean oil and palm oil. Then I add Olive oil as my 'third' oil. I get my lye at Ace Hardware stores and they will also order it for you as needed. I use the SoapCalc lye calculator online to develop my recipe and weigh out the water, lye, and each of the oils. Recently I made a 8-9 lb batch of soap using a plastic shoebox for my soap mold. If you don't want to stir forever after adding the lye/water mixture to the oil mixture when both reach about 110 degrees F, then a stik blender comes in handy to help the lye interact chemically with the oils by stirring. Otherwise it can take 40 minutes to 3 hours of stirring different recipes up until they trace. Color can be yellow-tumeric spice, orange-paprika spice, greenish/blue Crayon will work, wax dye for candles will also color soap, melt them in the oils. At the very end once light trace (it starts leaving your stirring marks on top of the batter)is reached, you add your desired ground oatmeal or chamomile tea leaves or lavendar buds, stirr that in well, then add the fragrance or essential oils that are body safe. Stir it in well, and pour it into your 'greased with petroleum jelly and then lined with butcher paper wax side up' plastic shoebox. Put a piece of butcher/freezer paper wax side down on the top to keep air from touching the mixture (creates soda ash which would have to be cut off if air)put the lid on, wrap it up in a blanket for 24 hours and I put mine in a cupboard. It goes through an almost liquid gel stage during this time then resolidifies. Now you can take it out of the mold, remove the paper, and measure and cut your blocks of soap. It is all hand cut and hand trimmed. The trimmings are still fresh so they can be rolled up into soap balls! Place the pieces on their end on a canned goods box and set it on a shelf in a closet to cure for 8 weeks for most soaps when the lye stops developing and the soap PH is safe to touch. Soap sells for $1 an ounce. You can learn more details before you try online at teach soap.

Come visit me, Imaginary Alpaca Ranch (& Chickens!).

11/14/2010 02:57.52 PM Report This Comment  
  Hi there,

I'm becoming interested in producing fiber, but I have a lot to learn. I would like to start a flock of Olde English Babydoll Southdowns for their wool. How long have you been raising Alpacas? You're only a couple hours away from us!

Come visit me, Wild at Heart Farm.

09/29/2010 08:22.01 PM Report This Comment  
  I would love to have Alpacas and learn to spin their fiber. Did you learn on your own or did you take classes?

Come visit me, Harmony Acres Farm.

08/04/2010 12:06.47 PM Report This Comment  


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