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updated: 5/2/2012 8:29 AM

Learn about alpacas at Campton Hills open house

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  • Susan and Ron Waldron own Waldron Grove Alpaca Farm in Campton Hills. They are having an open house and pen sale this weekend.

      Susan and Ron Waldron own Waldron Grove Alpaca Farm in Campton Hills. They are having an open house and pen sale this weekend.
    Christopher Hankins/Daily Herald 2007

  • Alpacas on the Waldron farm enjoy a cool, sunny day in Campton Hills. Susan Waldron said alpacas graze on grass as part of their diet.

      Alpacas on the Waldron farm enjoy a cool, sunny day in Campton Hills. Susan Waldron said alpacas graze on grass as part of their diet.
    Christopher Hankins/Daily Herald 2007

  • Susan Waldron greets some of her many alpacas on the farm she owns with her husband Ron in Campton Hills. She says alpacas are gentle and somewhat shy and not difficult to raise.

      Susan Waldron greets some of her many alpacas on the farm she owns with her husband Ron in Campton Hills. She says alpacas are gentle and somewhat shy and not difficult to raise.
    Christopher Hankins/Daily Herald 2007

  • Susan Waldron says alpacas are affectionate on their own terms, like cats, and will come up and nuzzle you if they like you.

       Susan Waldron says alpacas are affectionate on their own terms, like cats, and will come up and nuzzle you if they like you.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2007

  • Alpacas will be available to purchase -- or just look at -- at this weekend's open house at Waldron Grove Alpaca Farm in Campton Hills.

       Alpacas will be available to purchase -- or just look at -- at this weekend's open house at Waldron Grove Alpaca Farm in Campton Hills.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2007

 

By Susan Klovstad

sklovstad@dailyherald.com

They might nuzzle you if you hold still, but they won't spit on you -- or bite.

"Alpacas have been domesticated for 5,000 years," said Susan Waldron. "They're not aggressive. They don't even have any teeth on the top plate."

This weekend, visitors to Waldron Grove Alpaca Farm, which Susan co-owns with her husband Ronald, will have a chance to meet some alpacas, purchase alpaca-related artwork and clothing, and even take home their own alpaca, if they like. The free open house is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6, at the farm, 39W856 McDonald Road in Campton Hills.

"Alpacas are herd animals," Waldron said. "You need to have two, and at least one acre."

Waldron, who has raised alpacas for nine years, said the woolly animals aren't difficult to care for.

"They graze and eat grass all summer," she said. "In the winter they eat hay with a small supplement of grain."

If you're not ready to own livestock, you can still visit and learn a bit more about the animals. But don't expect to be able to pet them.

"They have a personality like a cat; they show affection on their terms," Waldron said.

"They're kind of shy, very gentle," said Ann Bergstrom, Waldron's assistant.

Bergstrom works with Waldron in creating fiber arts and clothing made from alpaca wool. These items will be for sale, and Waldron will hold spinning demonstrations and seminars throughout the day. "Susan will be teaching needle and wet felting, which is how we make the clothing," Bergstrom said. "We have scarves, tunics, jackets and shawls."

"We raise them for their fleece," Waldron said. "Alpacas do not have any lanolin in their fiber, so there is a fabulous comfort factor. Most people allergic to (lambs) wool are not allergic to alpaca fleece."

Garments made from alpaca fleece are soft, light and warm, Waldron said.

All the alpacas at the open house will be in full coat, according to Bergstrom.

"They get shorn once a year, usually in May," Bergstrom said. "They're furry now."

The open house will feature 15-minute seminars on a variety of topics, including:

• The Meaning of Alpaca Farming

• The Alpaca Business

• Alpaca Fiber

• Maintaining a Healthy Herd

• Selecting Your First Alpaca

• Alpaca Farm Set up and Management

• Marketing for Success

• Make a profit from selling your fiber

Three alpaca farms will participate in the pen sale. Waldron says prices for an alpaca start around $500 for one that is pet quality and can reach $4,000 or more. Suri and Huacaya breed alpacas will be available for purchase.

Although raising alpacas is a long-term endeavor -- the animals can live to be 18-20 years old -- Waldron says they are appealing pets.

"They only grow to 150 or 170 pounds, which isn't much more than a large dog," Waldron said. "But they're not noisy, like dogs. They make a cute little humming sound."

"In the morning and evening they do this thing called 'pronking,' Waldron said. "It's so funny. They jump up into the air with all four feet. It's how we know they're happy."

For details on Waldron Grove Alpacas or the open house, visit waldrongrovealpacas.com.

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