Saturday, July 21, 2018

Alpaca updos and llama tales

This morning I opened Facebook and happened upon this post:

At first glance, one might think this stylistic alpaca shearing is just for fun, not realizing the animals are sheared for their wool like sheep. A post on the Modern Farmer explains: "Alpaca fleece is practically water-repellent and, unlike sheep's wool, lanolin-free and therefore hypoallergenic." Native to South America, alpacas are used as pack animals, and also for their wool.

The photos reminded me of my distant cousin, Dick Snyder, who raised not alpacas, but llamas at his Foster Hill Farm in Milford, Pennsylvania. He told us during my family's 2003 visit that he bred his llamas primarily for their fiber, although he'd also sold some of his stock to farms around the U.S. He said llamas have very distinctive personalities. Also, the males have to be separated from the females except during mating, and are less friendly than the females since they're constantly vying for dominance with each other.

We stopped by Dick's farm in the summertime, but arrived a bit too early for Open Barn Day, a weekend every July when my cousin opened his farm to the public. He was an amazing philanthropist and community builder that way. Dick passed away in the fall of 2014, and I miss his intelligent, generous spirit and sense of humor. While thinking about him this morning I browsed the Internet for Snyder Quality Llamas and came across this Pike County Courier article about Open Barn Day at his farm.

Via the caption on the feature photo, I learned something I hadn't known before: "Lowering your head so the llamas can smell your hair is a way for them to get to know [you]."

Pictured: Dakota Steele. Photo by Anya Tikka