Another hidden treasure of Gig Harbor
There are still so many things I don’t know about Gig Harbor. Everyone always thinks I know everything going on, but really I don’t. I definitely know a lot, but I do not know it all. And I was reminded of this once again last week, when I was invited to visit Rosedale Alpaca Farm.
Who knew so many of our neighbors were raising and loving the darling animal often confused with a Llama? I sure didn’t. I was invited to the annual Alpaca Shearing day at Rosedale Alpaca’s located out on Ray Nash Drive. I met Nita Stockwell, owner of Rosedale Alpacas, as well as several of her friends and neighbors and all of their Alpacas who joined together on this day for the shearing services of Kim. Kim traveled to Gig Harbor from Oregon on her four month journey through Oregon and Washington shearing Alpacas of the Pacific Northwest.
(photo above "Rocky" before and "Rocky" after"
The Alpacas I met were curious, beautiful, and surprisingly patient while Kim shore them of every ounce of beautiful fleece and what one can only imagine might also be their dignity. As each animal skittered away after being rid of their heavy winter coat I couldn’t help but smile at the naked beast’s predicament.
Nita explained to me that shearing at this time of year is important so they do not get too hot in the summer. About 30 animals would be rid of their winter coat by the end of two days. Each job taking about 30 minutes to complete. A bit of a “spa” experience for each; hair, nails and a vibrating massage, as well as a quick check of the body for injury or health issues.
Originally from South American countries such as Chili, Bolivia and Peru, Alpacas are prized for their beautiful fleece. The prime part of the fleece, known as the blanket. Is turned into fiber or spun into yarn for multiple uses. The day I was there, the “seconds” which are the lesser quality fleece, was being collected by Molly, a 25 year old Gig Harbor women interested in weaving and hopefully soon starting her own alpaca farm. Molly will use the “seconds” primarily for felting.
Alpacas make nice pets, are easy on pastures because they do not have hooves and when gelded, cause few problems. They like at least one other Alpaca companion, but don’t do well with dogs or sheep. They come in a multitude of colors and grow to be about 20 years old. The fleece from the animals is good for weaving until they are about 12 years of age. They eat alpaca pellets or orchard grass.
Want to learn more about Alpacas? Check out www.rosedale-alpacas.com
(photo finished spun wool from Rosedale Alpacas)
Enjoy the hidden treasures of Gig Harbor with your Eyes Wide Open!