Welcome to the Jersey Shore! Of alpacas, that is. The Jersey Shore Alpacas is a small farm with 18 alpacas of all different
ages and colors. In this week's Jimdo Spotlight, we asked Tish and Jim a few questions about what life with alpacas is like.
Alpacas are curious, gentle creatures. They are easy to care for, and provide luxurious fiber that makes very warm, soft yarn and other products such as scarves, hats, gloves, and sweaters. My husband, Jim, and I decided to raise alpacas in part because we have a large property with a pasture, and they seemed like a perfect match for us, especially since I have always loved fiber arts such as knitting and weaving. What could be better than growing your own fiber to work with!
What's the most fun part about owning alpacas?
We are fortunate to be able to have our alpacas close to our home. The barn is literally in our backyard. So, we are able to observe them doing cute and comical things all the time. One of the fun things to watch is in the evening when the younger alpacas (and sometimes even the older ones) bound around the paddock in what is called "pronking." It's when they leap like a gazelle with all four feet off the ground at the same time. It's so cool to see them enjoying themselves.
For those who don't know, what's the difference between an alpaca and a llama?
Alpacas are approximately one third smaller than llamas, and their ears are spear-shaped, instead of banana-shaped, like a llama's. Most alpaca owners will tell you that alpaca fleece is softer than llama, but I do know that there are some llamas with lovely, fine, soft fleece similar to their alpaca cousins.
Why did you decide to work with the Efata Knitters in Peru instead of making your own items?
I love to knit, but I also work full-time as a high school teacher, so I was finding that I didn't have enough time to knit items for our store. Also, I didn't have a source for hand-knit baby items in "baby alpaca" (the softest grade of alpaca easily available), and we often get requests for baby clothes from our customers. Additionally, as Christians, we had wanted our store to serve as a "ministry" in some capacity. We felt we wanted to give back to the people of Peru. These desires led us to the Efata mission for deaf children in Peru, and one of the missionaries there connected us with some ladies skilled in knitting who are able to earn some extra income knitting products for our store. We pay them fair trade for their work, and we get lovely, one-of-a-kind baby sweaters, as well as other beautiful items for adults. It's a win-win for all of us!
How has having a website helped people in your community become aware of your Alpaca farm?
Our website is extremely important to our business. Many of our customers find out about our farm through word-of-mouth, so we've set up the site to be informative to potential visitors who may have been referred by others. We want them to see what they will experience when they come to visit, as well as gain information about alpacas in general. We have at least as many visitors from outside our area as locals, and often people will search out alpaca farms in our area before they come here for vacation (alpaca enthusiasts are really die-hard fans!). We want them to see our farm as a friendly, appealing place to visit, and Jimdo has allowed us to achieve that. Sometimes, travelers see our sign and stop to visit the farm. We are able to direct them to our site, especially the videos section, where they can see cool things like an actual birth, shearing, pronking, and the unusual alpaca "warning call." I love being able to refer visitors to this page!
Photos by Jersey Shore Alpacas.
Ana R. Alvarado
Would you like to be in our next Jimdo User Spotlight? Leave us a note in the comments!