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.
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!
We are delighted to share a photo of this beautiful shawl that our friend Becky created from Hermes' yarn. Congratulations Becky, we know it was a challenge but your perseverance was well worth it. We wish you a soft and warm winter wrapped up in this lovely shawl. Thanks for sharing!
And this is a reminder to all of you who have Fern Ridge Alpaca yarn on your needles: We love to share the wonderful knitted, crocheted and felted pieces that are created. They are all so unique and reflect the talent and creativity of our alpaca loving friends.
Hmmm. . . this is a good time to remind you of Whidbey FiberQuest. It's just around the corner... November 1 - 2 - 3. Along with our alpaca yarn and roving we'll also feature the talent of 2 of our fiber artist friends. Lydia Christiansen, AbundantEarthFiber.com, will have her handspun yarns and wool batts available in our farm store during FiberQuest. And she'll likely be spinning while I'm weaving on the loom in my fiber studio in the yurt. We're also featuring hand-dyed yarns and roving in a variety of fiber blends from Heidi Price. We also have in stock her hand-dyed, self-striping sock yarns. I can't wait to make myself a pair of socks from her yarn.
We're the closest FiberQuest farm to the Clinton ferry. We're looking forward to greeting you. We'll have the fire warming up the yurt and hot cider and cookies to get us in the holiday spirit. Plus, you can meet the alpacas. . . especially our cutest alpaca, Aster. . .just a couple of months old.
It took us quite awhile to decide and we had several great suggestions came from our blog readers... but the one we thought fit her perfectly was Aster! It means star in Greek. Thanks to Debra Moore for that suggestion. In one month Aster has grown from nearly 17 lbs (at birth) to just shy of 35 lbs yesterday. And that's just on mother's milk. Way to go Aster and mom Electra! Aster delights all who come to the farm . . . especially our youngest visitors. If they stand really still (the hardest part) Aster is so curious she'll come right up to them to investigate. Then they are truly, as we like to say, nose to nose with a sweet alpaca.
Recently we had a dozen delightful summer campers come to the farm. They timed it perfectly since a new baby alpaca had just arrived a few days before. Alpacas love children. They come right up and the kids can truly get 'nose to nose with a sweet alpaca'.
End of summer activities always include hauling hay. Our 4H friend and tractor driver extraordinaire, Kristen, was on hand to help move the 75# bales of hay from a flat bed trailer into the barn. Here she (on left) is showing her Swiss friend, Lottie, how to drive the tractor. Thanks to help from the girls, Kristen's dad and Lottie's parents the job was done with ease. . . well easy for me since I didn't arrive until it was time to sweep up.
With our unseasonably hot weather, the fluffy alpacas seem grateful to have been shorn in early June. This hot weather could be really uncomfortable wearing all that wonderfully insulating fleece. Some of the fiber has been sorted and sent off to the mill for spinning.We're looking forward to this year's harvest coming back as soft, shiny yarn.
It's been a busy June here on the farm. The sunny weather brings people out to the island and we've had a steady stream of visitors. We've been getting great reviews from our visitors... they all say they love how much they learn and the chance they have to interact with the alpacas. The alpacas love it too! So come on by. We're open most every day. It's always good to give us a quick call or send an email first... just to be sure we're here and can give you a personal tour. 206-510-0434.
We had our first Kick Start Your Knitting class last Monday. We were a small group but eager knitters. We tried some new tips and refined our technique. We're working on different projects but benefiting from the one-on-one instruction from Jennifer. You're welcome to join us each Monday 10 am - noon. $20 per session. Bring your own project and questions.. or we'll set you up with a new pattern and yarn to get you started.
Farm Tour. Farm Tour. . . and more Farm Tour. The weekend weather looks great for enjoying the agricultural offerings of Whidbey Island. It all starts at 10am on Saturday, September 15th. Stay the weekend on the island or pick your day.. Saturday or Sunday to enjoy the island farms. Come by and see the new cria at Fern Ridge then stop in at the Pacific Rim Institute in Ebey's Prairie to learn about raptors and how they can help farmers. Eat some locally sourced food at one of our fine restaurants. Pick your own blueberries at Huntersmoon Farm or get some locally made sheep milk cheese at Glendale Shepherd. There's plenty to see and do. It's great fun for the whole family.
As we head into 2012 our thoughts are full of gratitude for all of our farm visitors. We thoroughly enjoy sharing the alpacas and our farm life with others. And without the generous help of our volunteers we couldn't have had such a successful Whidbey Island Farm Tour event in early September. Nearly 200 families came to the farm and enjoyed plenty of photo ops along with weaving, spinning and felting demos and educational displays.
We had 2 beautiful new
cria this year. . .Kuro and Asa. They have delighted visitors with their soft fleece, adorable faces and curious natures. Much bigger than when this photo was taken...they will be preparing to wean from their mom's by mid February.
We had a surprise visit from 2 women on a 5,000 mile cycling trip. They spent the night on the farm and told us about their goal to raise money for an inner-city girl's school through their journey across the country. To follow their blog or make a donation to support their cause go to their website: www.anothermileanotherstarfish.com
This year we also had visits by 2 classes of 3rd grade Waldorf students from Brightwater School in Seattle. One group came in the spring and one in November.Again, our fabulous volunteers made it both fun and educational for the students.
FiberQuests happened twice this year. We collaborate with other local fiber farms for this multi-day event. Fiber lovers from both the island and the mainland visit all the farms and have a chance to win a basket of fiber products. We'll be doing another FiberQuest in spring 2012. Watch for the notice and get in on a fun Whidbey Island fiber event.
4H and the Island County Fair was another highlight of our summer. We had 6 fabulous young people (ages 8 - 16) work with some of our alpacas and a llama on halter training and obstacle course work during the year. Their work culminates at the County Fair during a lively competition open to the public. The Fair is a great community event and we get to chat with many of our friends as they come through the alpaca barn and enjoy the fair.
For the New Year . . . we've been working on an upgraded online store. Please click on Farm Store navigation button and take a look. Products are frequently changing and expanding so it's good to check back now and then to see what's new. Let me know how it works for you and let us know if there's something you'd like to see in the store.
Our family wishes you all a very Peaceful and Prosperous New Year!