The main reason we enjoy sharing our alpaca lifestyle is all of you! We have met absolutely fabulous people from all over the world. We get to share our farm life and introduce you to our fluffy friends, and you have shared your stories with us. Some have traveled from foreign countries, some come because you discovered us online and have always wanted to see alpacas up close, and others have come because friends have said 'you have to go to the farm and meet the alpacas'.
For us, Thanksgiving is a time to stop for a moment and be thankful for everyone we have had the pleasure of welcoming to the farm.
A few visitors have shared their experience at the farm online and we appreciate their kind words. Recently a group of serious knitters came to the farm. I think they were part of a group of about 30 knitters who were staying (and knitting!) for the weekend in Langley. Now that sounds like fun. Here is a link to Carmel's blog. Scroll down to "The Retreat" and see photos of her visit to our farm. carmelknits.blogspot.com/ And you can be sure Bendito (aka Bob in Carmel's blog) will be delighted to nibble treats from your hand when you come back to visit again.
And, hey knitters: don't forget we'd love to have pix of your beautiful creations made with our yarn.
We are grateful that our family will all be together with Hal's mom and his siblings. And, we wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.
FREYA is this year's spokes-alpaca for all the critters!
The holidays are coming and we're all thinking about finding the perfect gifts for our family and friends. Naturally, we have a suggestion for you: Drop by our Holiday Open House - Thurs. November 20 thru Sunday November 23 from 10 am - 3 pm.
We can't think of a more thoughtful gift than a luxuriously soft and warm alpaca hat, scarf or pair of gloves. We have a constantly changing selection of handknit infinity scarves of 100% alpaca. The white one shown here is a sample of what these one-of-a-kind scarves are like. We have them in black, light fawn and a lovely hand dyed goldenrod... and a white one is on the needles right now.
We also have felted soap in a host of scents which is another 'Made on Whidbey' product. The soap, made by Whidbey Island Naturals in Langley, has our alpaca fiber handfelted around the bar to give you a wash cloth and soap all in one! Then there's our handwoven alpaca rugs and alpaca filled duvets for your home and alpaca worm castings for your garden. So many great gift ideas.
Our Whidbey Island fiber artists have created a large selection of hand knit and felted purses in a host of colors, stripes and all with lovely detailing. One fiber artist created a charming set of 4 purses with fall, winter, spring, summer color and design themes. Give them separately or as a complete seasonal set.
To make the Holiday Open House extra special we're offering a free pair of alpaca socks for purchases over $100 during the 4 day holiday event.
True alpaca sock story:
We had one customer who gave a pair of our alpaca socks to her father for his birthday and when the holidays came around last year he told her all he wanted for Christmas was more alpaca socks! That made shopping for her dad a snap. She just emailed us with her order and we sent them off in the mail so he had toasty toes all year long.
If you can't make the Holiday Open House give us a call. We are taking a family break during the week of Thanksgiving but we'll be open again on Dec. 2.
We are so pleased to announce the our finished skeins of yarn from the prime fiber from our 2014 harvest has arrived. It's a perfect time to start your knitted and crocheted holiday gift projects. To achieve our premium yarns I sort our raw fleece into grades by their fiber characteristics. This process results in yarn with more uniformity of fiber, a smoother feel, less fuzziness and less pilling in the finished product. All of our skeins are 250 yd and 3ply.
Today in our farm store in a yurt you will find a father/daughter blend of Smitty and Freya in a beautiful rose grey yarn. If you prefer silver gray, Pedro never fails to please with his gorgeous yarn. Our brown alpacas produce yarn in various hues from mahogany to rich chocolate. And there's brilliant white from our award winning Demitrius and his buddy Giovanni that make lovely finished products you can dye or enjoy as is. We have just a couple skeins of Kuro's incredibly lustrous black yarn left.
Our farm store also features hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns from local Whidbey fiber artists in various fibers and skein lengths including 2 ply medium fawn suri alpaca.
If you don't knit or crochet, we have an assortment of one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted scarves and hats in a variety of fibers created by Whidbey Island fiber artists. New this year we have wet felted natural fiber shawls/wraps along with detailed knit/felted handbags. We also offer lovely alpaca products imported from Peru.
There's lots to discover to inspire your creativity. Plan a visit to the farm this fall!
The weather gave us a perfect fall day on Whidbey - sunshine and lovely temps. But the friendly visitors that visited our farm during Farm Tour were the highlight of the weekend. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of you -- all 300+. Our 4H and fiber friends demonstrated spinning and knitting and shared their love of alpacas with our visitors. Special thanks to Cherie, Elizabeth, Linda, Doug, Ben, Christoph, Sarah, Brittany, Kristen, Rebecca and Janice who spent their time helping out during the tour. And our visitors enjoyed tasting the treats provided by Janae of the LunchBox. Look for her around the island at various events.
Recently we were contacted by the Educational Broadcasting System of South Korea. They are producing an educational show about raising alpacas and wanted to film at our farm. It was great fun to work with these delightful filmmakers. The alpacas were curious about our visitors with their equipment, but they took it all in stride.
They filmed one of our herd health activities - clipping alpaca toenails and Demetrius stood their patiently while Hal demonstrated. We were very proud of him and it goes to show how important the extra 4H training is to have well-behaved alpacas. They also filmed carding, hand spinning and weaving and the alpacas enjoying the sunshine in their pasture.
Then we took them over to nearby Abundant Earth Fiber Mill, a commercial cottage mill, owned by our friend Lydia Christiansen. This gave them a great opportunity to film the large scale mill pickers, carders and spinners processing fiber into yarn.
We are excited to see the finished film for their South Korean audience. I hope it comes with sub-titles!
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.