Local farms hold open house for National Alpaca Farm Days

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Four alpaca farms in Franklin County, including one in Antrim Township, will open their doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27 during the annual National Alpaca Farm Days.

Everyone's talking about alpacas, from David Letterman to the Wall Street Journal. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27 area residents will have a chance to find out why during the annual National Alpaca Farm Days.  Four local farms will be opening their barn doors with featured events such as spinning and weaving demonstrations, fashion shows and children's activities.  Visitors will be able to get close to the animals, learn the basics about feeding and care, and experience the alpaca farming lifestyle.

Scheduled events and directions to the farms are posted the on the Alpacas of Cumberland Valley web site, www.cvalpacas.com.

Alpacas of Cumberland Valley is a loosely affiliated group of local farms including Cherry Run Farm, 595 Dyer Road, Mercersburg; Long Acres Farm, 9703 Blue Spring Road, Mercersburg; Ragged Edge Farm, 1143 Ragged Edge Road, Chambersburg; Stone Meadow Alpacas, 14514 Hollowell Church Road,  Waynesboro in Antrim Township and Top Knot'ch Farm of Waynesboro.

What's an alpaca?

Alpacas, cousins to the llama, are beautiful, intelligent animals.  They weigh between 150 and 200 pounds and stand 36 inches at the withers. Alpacas produce a luxurious fiber that is stronger, warmer, and lighter than wool and is frequently compared to cashmere. Currently, there are over 130,000 registered alpacas in North America.

Why the buzz?

Besides offering a rewarding way of life, alpacas are a growing alternative to traditional investments in a turbulent economic environment.  No wonder, considering that alpacas are low-maintenance, easy to raise, light livestock whose owners see returns through breeding, stud fees and selling alpaca fiber.  Many people feel the animals hold their value better than the unpredictable stock market.

Articles describing this phenomenon appeared in the Wall Street Journal (“When Stocks Tank, Some Investors Stampede to Alpacas and Turn to Drink” on Oct. 3, 2008) and Washington Times (“Falling in Love with Alpacas” on June 8, 2009).  According to the Washington Post article, “Old Macdonald Wouldn't Recognize This Farm” dated Jan. 3, 2009; a growing number of farmers are giving up traditional livestock and taking up the alpaca. It states, “Agricultural officials say that nearly all of the farmers in southern Maryland have cut the number of livestock animals they keep on their farms and some have replaced them altogether. Not only does the alpaca offer an abundant resource of cute, it is economically efficient to raise. They eat less than livestock and they don't have to be slaughtered for farmers to harvest their woolly fur, which fetches a good price at market.”

Even David Letterman joked last fall that he was not worried about the economy because he invested his money in an alpaca ranch.  The increasing exposure in the national media and celebrity interest is drawing more people from high-paced, stressful careers into a simpler, peaceful way of living.  One in which they see tangible evidence of their investment, while falling in love with the gentle, curious creatures.

About Alpacas of Cumberland Valley

Alpacas of Cumberland Valley (ACV) is an alpaca farm cooperative whose founding members originate in the beautiful Cumberland Valley of south central Pennsylvania. The farms were naturally drawn together as if by fate with the intention of combining efforts in caring for these lovely creatures, of doing their part in developing a strong North American Alpaca Industry and in assisting others to have the privilege of acquiring alpacas for themselves.

The founding farms have joined together for mutual support and cooperative efforts focused on multi-farm events. 

With ACV farm members there are a large selection of alpacas of diverse national backgrounds, in all colors and many award winning alpacas at that.  There is also have a diverse group of Herdsires available for breeding and re-breeding needs.