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Thank you for visiting West County Alpacas! We’re a family farm located in beautiful Sebastopol, California. This is a very slow process for me.  Please be patient as I try to stay on top of updating this site.

Thank you from the bottom of our fuzzy little hearts!

 

 

 

Colder Months and Change

We’ve had some hard frosts the last few mornings.  The first thing my children do on the morning of a frost is to bundle up and head outside in the cold to find what has frozen over.  As you can imagine, all the animal watering holes are inspected, the pond, and the bird bath.  It’s been a long dry year and we’re hoping this year brings more rain.

The field where the alpacas graze has been overrun by horseweed.  They are a nasty biproduct of compacted dry soil.  They send a tap root far down into the earth to bring water and nutrients up to the topsoil.   They are hard to pull up and harder to cut down and virtually no animal eats them!  My field manager (my husband) and I would like to spread seed soon so that we can use the coming rain to our advantage.  I’m hoping we can also use some of our strength to get rid of some of the horseweed – bringing back balance to the field.  Unfortunately we will not get to use this field for much longer.  I’ve been able to lease my acre from the neighbors for the past four years!  I’m so grateful for the time I’ve been given to fill the boots of a fiber farmer.  It’s been such an amazing, challenging and exciting time for me.  I thought it would never end.  But alas, the field is theirs and they have their own animal operations to expand.  I love this neighborhood for that reason – so many different animals are found on all sides of us.

This impending news has stumped me for a month now.  I’m thinking of different options for continuing my operation.  Nothing is off the table and I’ve even thought about selling it all.  I am trusting that the right solution will present itself before March.  If you know of any other land in Sebastopol, Ca. that would like alpacas, let me know!

May you bundle up with your favorite natural fiber and enjoy this coming cold (and hopefully wet) season.

 

Heading into Autumn

This morning is covered in a haze of fog and nothing speaks more to me of Autumn that those beautiful foggy mornings.  I remember as a kid (Sonoma County born and raised), getting ready for school and heading out into the heavy mist of the morning.  It’s a weather pattern that brings you inward to contemplate and quietly move forth into the day.  What a perfect day for an alpaca update!

Beautiful Othella on a Winter's day

 

Many new things have happened over the year.  We are down to only five alpacas now!  We sold many and unfortunately the inevitable happened to our dear Othella.  Only at her new home for a few months, she passed away.  I know it was very hard for her new owners to experience.  I’m not looking forward to that reality.  With such a small herd now, I’m trying to catch my breath and make my next move with my fiber.  I took a spinning class which was so fun!  I’m trying to acquire all fiber processing skills even though I will most likely be taking the bulk of my fiber to a mill to be processed.  Currently, I’m working on skirting a big box of thirds to be sent to a rug mill.  My first rug will hopefully be here by the holidays. Some of my yarn and raw fiber will be for sale at the Fibershed booth at the National Heirloom Expo.  This is an amazing annual expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Sept. 9th,10th,11th.  Check it out…  www.theheirloomexpo.com

To read a sweet third party perspective on our little operation, check out this write-up by Fibershed http://www.fibershed.com/2014/07/10/noelle-gaberman-a-life-of-alpaca-artistry/

My first alpaca, heehee..

Bottom two photographs by Paige Green Photography

Welcome to the farm Frannie!

Frannie has a special place in my heart.  Not only is she a sweetheart, but she is the the girl I based my logo off of.  She has these cute defined creases by her mouth that gives the impression that she’s always smiling.  She’s a talker too – humming as she walks around the field.  She’s been very curious and will boldly smell our hair or eat out of our hand!  She is due to have a baby early next summer!

{Some} of the alpacas have arrived!

We’re taking it in stages folks.  All the non-breeders (except one that is already confirmed pregnant) arrived last week.  We are getting to know each other and they are learning to trust me and their surroundings.  They seem very happy munching on available greens as well as the dry matter that has blanketed the field.  Sonoma County summers are bone dry  so we are not too worried about the barn progress.  I bought them a shade structure to use out in the field while we finish the roof and the siding of the barn.  They use it daily.  When I bring them water and pellets everyday, I get lost watching their mannerisms and social cues.  While they were eating their pellets the other day, I snuck in a pet or two before they caught on!  That was big news in our household!

Small steps each day are getting me closer to my dream.  In many ways the dream has already been actualized.

Thank you to Vicki Arns of The Alpaca Shire, Jennifer Powers of Aero Ranch, Josh Staples for his amazing graphic design (by hand!), Michelle & Nathan Feileacan for helping my web presence, and to all my friends and family who are sharing in my enthusiasm!

Progress!

Here’s the barn bones and the trajectory of the fence line…

 The weekend was hot and I walked the 300 ft. span with my friend and foreman Eric K., (my barn contractor was friend Eric I.) and that one hour spent marking the ground for the T stakes made me weary.  I’ve got to hand it to the strong men that spent 7.5 hours out in the sun setting posts and pounding T stakes!