Our day in the country

Who knew there were so many alpaca farms so close to us. While making plans to head out on the Washington County Fiber Tour on Mother's Day, I was surprised to see more than half of the farms featured alpacas. Once we saw them up-close and heard all about them from the hobby farmers who owned them I could understand why.

We only made it to 4 farms so I'm going to have to leave earlier in the morning, leave everyone else at home or make it a 2-day tour. Besides the alpacas, we saw chickens and roosters, sheep and their baby lambs, a bunny, and llamas.

We stopped at Rathbun's Maple Sugar House Restaurant in North Granville for breakfast right after church. Not surprising, since it was Mother's Day, there was nearly an hour-long wait. We explored the sugar shack and grounds before breakfast instead of after like we usually do.

First farm stop about 10 minutes away (so easy to tour with the GPS, I must say) was Parkland Alpaca Farm in Granville. While the kids and I tried to encourage the alpacas to come to the fence, explored their farm store of handmade goods and chased the roosters, my dh chatted with owner Phil Weaver about raising alpacas and retiring to this idyllic farm about 6 years ago. (Wonder if any of it sounds appealing to dh. It would be my dream retirement, though I wouldn't want to wait that long.)

Next stop, Area Cria-tions Alpaca Farm in Fort Ann. This was definitely a family farm, owned by Russell and Andrea Wade, and their two daughters, who decided they wanted to show something at the county fair just a few years ago. We pulled up to kids playing in the driveway, folks picnicking in the barn and even a coloring table set up -- which my little one made a beeline for immediately. He was right at home.

We all felt even more at home at The Communitty Baa Farm and The Mermaid's Braid in Argyle. After being met at the gate by the owners' daughter and her chicken, she led us to the back to see their animals, gathering an egg from the chicken coop as we walked past. The boys loved getting right in the pen to pet the lambs, sheep and alpaca -- until the little guy touched the electric fence. He went to the porch with Daddy to hang out with Matt and his 3 boys (all under 4 -- I thought I was busy!) while my bigger boys and I went inside to get a lesson on roving and spinning from Jessica and their daughter. Before we left, my younger boys had some new best friends and we had to encourage them to leave with us.

Our last stop was nestled on top of a hillside overlooking a small lake. Even without the animals, I'd love to live at Breezy Hill Ranch in Salem. We got to go into the pen with the alpacas to learn more about what goes into breeding and raising them from owners Lisa and David Proulx.

More photos of our outing are here. I'm already planning return visits, possibly before the tour next spring. I want more yarn to work with and it is really fun to use it from animals we have met firsthand.


Shay said...

Maple syrup; yum yum yum.

Great pix! Looks like it was a wonderful outing.

Christy said...

Haven't checked in for a while...just found this post. What a fun day! Alpaca is my absolute favorite fiber to knit. How wonderful to have so many farms nearby!