Learn about growing Christmas trees, raising cattle, goats and chickens. Walk the fields of organically raised veggies. Visit an historic Whidbey farm where they teach the next generation of organic farmers. Taste liqueurs from locally grown fruit. Learn about European style intensive gardening. See Whidbey's new fiber processing mill and see fiber producing alpacas. Pick up a snack at the Lunch Box at Fern Ridge and have dinner at one of Whidbey's fine restaurants featuring local ingredients. Stop by Bayview Corner to hear about Whidbey's Slow Food event, our local food bank and school district garden programs and much more!
Summer always brings the county fair and Island County is no exception. In lovely Langley on Whidbey Island we have a terrific fair. Carnival rides, hot dogs, cotton candy, live music, homemade food, handmade quilts and art, and lots of 4H kids with their project animals. We enjoyed the horses in the arena, cows and pigs in the barn and there was lots to learn about alpacas.
Five of our alpacas were at the fair and their 4H-handlers did a great job. They had a lot of fun leading their alpacas through the obstacles, winning ribbons and talking about alpacas with the public. I hope to get a few pictures from one of our 4H dads and will post them when I can.
Now that Fall is approaching we look forward to the island's end-of-summer celebration of our agricultural heritage and our local working farms. The Whidbey Island Farm Tour is a chance to visit a variety of farms from Oak Harbor to Clinton. Some of these farms are not open to the public except on farm tour weekend. Besides the farms you can also visit a distillery sourcing their fruit locally and a fiber mill that takes locally produced fiber and spins it into yarn. See all the farms and producers on the tour at www.whidbeyfarmtour.com
THE GIRLS (and Braun!) INVITE YOU TO THE WHIDBEY FARM TOUR
SEPTEMBER 20th and 21st
Can't make the farm tour? We look forward to seeing you at Fern Ridge Alpacas most any time.
We were delighted to meet all the fabulous fiber lovers who participated in the Whidbey Island FiberQuest with a Summer Twist. It seemed the Summer Twist was our record temperatures! It was certainly hot on Whidbey. At Fern Ridge we had 2 groups of visitors from San Diego and another family from Toronto. More local FiberQuesters came from Lynnwood, Everett, Seattle and many more from our very own island. It was a great weekend and thanks to all of you for visiting our farms. We enjoyed chatting with each one of you.
And the winner is.... We had 19 entries in our fleece weight guessing game during FiberQuest. Guesses ranged from 300 to 1.5 ounces. The large volume of fluff can be deceiving. We had 3 who guessed it right at 16 ounces. So we put those tickets in the hat and drew out a winner. Jewel will be receiving an adorable hand-felted alpaca ornament. Thanks to everyone who participated!
July may be sunny and hot but fall and winter are not far away. The Whidbey Island FiberQuest is a great event to kick start your knitting and fiber projects for warm winter accessories and holiday gift giving.
This year's FiberQuest includes 6 fiber farms and 2 yarn shops. For each $25 purchase you make at a farm or shop you will be entered to win a $50 gift certificate. Also, visit all 8 stores, have your ticket stamped and be entered to win a $25 gift certificate. The hours are 10 - 5 pm on Saturday July 12 and Sunday July 13. You can pick up your ticket at your first stop. Visit www.whidbeyfiberquest.com to get a map of all the participating farms and yarn shops on the island.
At Fern Ridge Alpacas we will also have additional contests!
The weather is going to be wonderful next weekend and Whidbey Island is well worth the trip for the fabulous ferry ride, the lovely scenic roadways through farm and forest. And, of course, the adventure of finding unique fiber treasures on FiberQuest.
Start planning your fall fiber projects next weekend. See you at the farm next weekend!
20 alpacas plus 2 llamas and 3 alpaca neighbors equals a long day of shearing. But it was a successful day all around. We were especially grateful there was no rain during the first week of June. As we live in the northwest we are used to having to put up extra shelters to keep the alpacas under cover several days before shearing.
We are careful every year to have all our alpacas' fleece absolutely dry for shearing day. If the fiber is too wet, the shearer cannot safely do the job. And, even if it's a little damp you end up with bags of wet fleece; which if left too long you have bags of mildewy fleece. But, alas, the weather cooperated beautifully and we had a very productive day harvesting the luxurious alpaca fleece.
A FEW OF THE GIRLS: PRE AND POST SHEARING
The day after shearing I spent all day sorting fleece by grades and then shipped much of it out to be spun into yarn. We'll have to wait a few weeks for yarn to come back from the mill.
NEW YARN IN TODAY! We just received over 40 skeins of our alpaca yarn from the mill. We now have in stock lovely silver gray, a soft light fawn, rich dark browns and Apollo's bright white.
SUMMER ON WHIDBEY. Now that the weather is reliably summer, we encourage everyone to plan a day trip to Whidbey Island and visit the farm. Or you may want to make a weekend of it and relax in one of the island's many B&Bs, walk on the beach, visit art studios, tour the waterfront with Whidbey Kayaks, and shop and dine in Langley. And, of course, include a visit with our alpacas.
Woo-hoo! USA Today's readers have ranked Whidbey as #3 of Best Islands in the US to visit. Well, we already knew that.
Thanks to Whidbey Island business writer Carolyn Tamler Fern Ridge Alpacas is featured in various island online publications. Recently Carolyn, a tireless promoter of local companies, brought a friend to meet our alpacas. Here her friend was tickled by the alpacas eating treats from her hand.
This is Memorial Day weekend and true to NW form it's wet. But that doesn't stop our visitors from coming to visit with the alpacas. We've had several families and couples stop by the farm this weekend. There's only one more weekend before the alpacas are shorn. So if you want to see them at their fluffiest...now is the time!
May gives us a special day to honor our Mothers - May 11. If you're looking for something special to give your mother visit our farm
store in a yurt. We offer luxuriously soft alpaca clothing, handknit accessories and felted gifts. Alpaca filled duvets will keep her cozy on cool spring nights and a handwoven alpaca rug will keep her toes warm all year round. If mom likes to knit or crochet, we produce premium yarn from Whidbey Island's friendliest alpacas. Come by the farm, meet the alpacas and discover a luxurious gift for mom.
Bendito takes advantage of those precious sunny days to stretch out in the warm grass. Pedro, Smitty and Demi sniff the spring air and look for fresh grass to nibble. We're all glad that spring is here. However, as I write this blog post I can hear the rains pounding on my roof. It must be spring in the Northwest.
One day it's cold and drizzly; the next it's balmy with the sun shining. We had a tremendous rain last weekend and our new seasonal babbling brook was flowing out of the hillside and running into the pasture. This tells me our climate is changing. We've never had water flow like this until the last year or so. It reminds me of my childhood in the east when the rains came in downpours. But with a sunny day the alpaca fluff right up and everyone is happy again.
We woke up this morning to a lovely blanket of white all over the farm. It snowed about 2 inches during the night just enough to create a winter wonderland. Of course, being the Pacific Northwest it won't last for long. The alpacas went out into the pasture to enjoy the snowy landscape.
Aster (on the left) is jumping with delight in the new snow.
The girls look for grass buried in the snow.
TWO UPCOMING EVENTS! Valentine's Day is this Friday. Soft and warm alpaca gloves, scarves, hats and accessories make memorable Valentine gifts. Give us a call or send an email and we'll help you find the perfect gift.
And, Mystery Weekend in Langley is February 22-23. This is a classic event. Amateur sleuths come from all over the region to figure out who did the "Deadly Deed". All of Langley gets into the act with locals playing the mystery's characters and giving out clues. And when you're not sleuthing you can drop by the farm and visit with our friendly alpacas.
This time of year on many mornings the fog rolls in and sometimes stays all day. Thankfully, temperatures are milder than what we experienced a few weeks ago. No more having to break the ice on the alpacas' water buckets!
Aster is getting a lot bigger and we've started her halter training. Just getting used to the halter is a big deal. Today she actually went out into the pasture on the lead. There was a bit of bucking at first but she managed to calm down to get her picture taken. Such a lovely young lady!
When we start them young they quickly get used to being haltered. That makes all of us a lot happier when we need to have them on a lead. Another big girl accomplishment: she has been eating her pellet feed right alongside mom for many weeks now. And this is very good. When mom weans her from the milk bar she won't really miss the nutrition. She might pine for the comforting feeling of nursing from mom, but she'll have all the calories she needs from her pellet nibbles and hay. Way to go, Aster!
Even though January isn't high season for visitors to the island, we've had lots of folks come to the farm. Whidbey is a great day trip from the mainland and many stay the weekend at the local B&Bs and inns. There are breathtaking views, country roads, quaint towns, restaurants to try, wineries to visit and our alpacas waiting for you to stop by!
Give us a call or send an email to tell us when you'll be on the island.