Despite their relatively calm nature, alpaca don't really like to be touched. So sinking your hand into the back of one and rolling your fingers around in the raw fiber is quite special.
The process of getting it from the animal's body to the body of a person in the form of a sweater on their back, a hat on their head or slippers on their feet is not easy. The shearing, the dyeing, the spinning, the knitting - it's an age-old art form and just another example of how farm animals serve us.
We literally take the fiber from their back and put it onto our own - leaving them to look downright weird. These living Q-tips with jutting lower teeth, all ill-proportioned and lanky, have seemingly walked off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. But just look at those eyes. Doubled-down deep brown marbles, juicy and glistening with curiosity.
And the coat. Some wear dark chocolate locks. Some butterscotch curly cues. Some plain vanilla, but shaken up with soft shaggy shards. Each is so filled with their own earthy flavor, the fiber needn't be dyed. It's perfect, as is.
Special thank you to Laura at Black Woods Farm in Cherryfield. I visited her Huacaya alpacas farm as a part of my 3-day summer Maine road trip that took me up to Linneus then down through Edmunds and Lubec.
Laura uses only sustainable and eco-friendly practices in managing her fiber farm.
We have a beautiful state with many diverse farms and passionate farmers. Get out and enjoy them!
Visit Black Woods Farm of Maine.