’Round Town

Alpacas

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 7:00am

During a recent wedding at Newagen Seaside Inn on Southport Island, while photographing with a newly married couple, out of the corner of my eye, “when what to my wandering eyes should appear but, a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer!” Or not!

What actually appeared was a group of alpacas, out for a stroll with human attendees. This was not a part of the wedding package I had anticipated. But for a moment, our event paused as we observed the group trekking by, toward the waterfront. It was an unexpected nice touch.

Turns out that the alpacas live at Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm just across the road and around the corner from the Inn exit road at 1020 Hendricks Hill Road, on Southport. And the little planned adventure is part of what one might enjoy with a scheduled visit to the farm. You can actually sign up for a “stroll” with these wonderful four-legged critters. It’s all part of what the owners, Anne and Mike, promote as “Sustainable, All Natural, and Eco friendly.” Everything about the farm emphasizes Maine. All the fibers from the herd are gathered by Anne and Mike, spun by them and Aroostook Fiber Mill. Each alpaca's fleece is hand sorted and tumbled by Anne before it is crafted into yarn.

I really didn't know much about alpacas. I confused them with llama which I guess is not uncommon. Alpacas and llamas are related. Both are members of the camel family. The alpaca of South America inhabits marshy mountainous areas from southern Columbia and Ecuador south to northern Chile and northern Argentina. They are raised mostly for their fleece which varies a bit depending upon the breed. Fleece from the suri is fine and silky, while fleece from the huacaya is shorter and coarser. Both types of alpaca reside at Cape Newagen farm. The fleece is remarkably lightweight, strong, lustrous, high in insulation value and resistant to rain and snow. And boy, is it comfortable.

We have given gifts to family and friends over the years, alpaca sourced and, to a person, there are rave reviews. The socks are amazing!

Anne and Mike came to Maine in search of a slower pace with a twist to an “Earth friendly” environ. They researched and studied for years about proper stewardship and found the alpaca to be an  ideal family to join. I think there are 24 critters on the farm now. And, believe it or not, Anne and Mike know every one by name ... namely (referencing this week's photo) from left to right in the front row: Viola, Tiny, Gracie, Rambling Rose and Maggie; next row, Dahlia, Sindar, Winterberry, Miss America, Dany, and in the back, Julianna. Anne would be the young lady in the way back, closing the gate.

Visits to the farm must be made in advance via the internet. Please refer to www.capenewagenfarm.com. Don't arrive unannounced, and leave puppies, large and small, at home – alpacas are not fans!

It’s a really fun visit.