Alpaca Fun on Martha’s Vineyard

alpaca smileAlpacas pop up in the most unlikely places. While riding down the bike path on Martha’s Vineyard, alpacas can be seen through the trees, tempting anyone to stop for a visit.

At Island Alpaca in Oak Bluffs, the original purchase of eight alpacas in 2004
has grown to more than 80, plus one llama named Lucy. Most visitors want to know what the difference is between a llama and an alpaca. They’re cousins, but llamas are larger and they’re known for their spitting abilities.

alpaca smileAlpacas are gentle and timid with faces that resemble puppies or teddy bears. They have no top teeth in the front and they don’t bite. They will run for food and they’ll run away from any trouble. While goats are known to eat anything, when alpacas graze they eat only the top part of the grass so that it can continue to grow.

The alpacas at Island Alpaca have names like Roberto, Zora, Silver Angel, Dom Perignon, or Captain Jack, embracing their South American heritage, their colors, and pirate names for their new island home. Alpacas boast 22 natural colors from snow white to auburn to coal. Their luxurious fleece creates material that’s lighter and stronger than wool while feeling like cashmere.

Island Alpaca visitors are given the chance to help out with the morning chores, feed the alpacas, and learn how to harness and walk them. If they’re lucky, springtime visitors might get to watch a birthing.

Peru, Bolivia, and Chile are still home to the largest percentage of alpacas in the world but with their ability to adapt to most climates, alpacas are being raised in places like Florida, California, Maine, and even islands like Martha’s Vineyard.

There’s a recent trend of adding goats to books. Why not alpacas? They look like characters to me. As long as I’m still revising my novel, I think I’ll add an alpaca.

To meet the Martha’s Vineyard alpacas, visit Island Alpaca.

Island Alpaca, Martha's Vineyard

Island Alpaca, Martha's Vineyard

Have you ever seen an alpaca? Could alpacas be the new goats? Would you want to be an alpaca farmer? (I’m considering it after reading the article below.)

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58 thoughts on “Alpaca Fun on Martha’s Vineyard

    • I love the bouffant too. I wasn’t there long enough to get really good pictures, but there are some great ones on the web site with even wilder bouffants. Just looking at some of them makes me smile.

  1. When we were in Minneapolis for a wedding in August, we stopped at the Mall of America. The mall has an Alpaca store where they sell Alpaca wool blankets, coats, slippers, etc. (The animals aren’t hurt for their wool.) Oh my goodness, so, so soft! My kids and I really wanted to bring a blanket home, but at $400 to $500 we decided, “Eh, maybe not.” But we stroked those blankets so much I think the clerk thought we were crazy (though I doubt we were the first).

    Loved learning these Alpaca facts. But I’m glad you slipped in some goat-talk, too. 😉

    • Wow if the blankets are that much then I might really have to become an alpaca farmer! I added the goat talk in there just for you and the goat club. With all our talk of goats and gorillas on Twitter, it seemed about time to throw some alpacas into the mix!

      • I had to come back because I realized I said blankets when I meant rugs. It was rugs we were stroking. Why your post came to me this morning and why I remembered I said blankets instead of rugs is anyone’s guess. I gave up trying to decipher my brain long ago. But I had to come back and clarify for accuracy. They don’t call me Sheldon for nothing…

      • You’re so funny! And here I was picturing you stroking blankets all this time. I’ll have to adjust my imagination. Maybe your subconscious was telling you to become an alpaca farmer because then you could be surrounded by those blankets and rugs!

    • There’s a gift store there that sells the yarn with a picture of the alpaca it came from along with things that are already made like blankets and hats. If there aren’t any alpaca children’s books out there, it sounds like you’ll have to write one! Alpacas are cousins of llamas after all. 🙂

    • We’ll have to look into becoming alpaca farmers together! It sounds like they’re worth the work because their fleece can make high-quality material and their droppings can be sold as fertilizer (it’s even called alpaca gold). All that and just looking at them makes me smile.

  2. The Adventures of Dom Perignon the Alpaca! What a wonderful children’s book that would be. I would be surprised to see an alpaca through the trees while riding my bicycle…. Although when I still lived in Paris, I once came across a camel in the park while walking my dog (turns out the circus was in town).

    • Hahah – that’s a perfect title for a children’s book! Stumbling on a camel in Paris while walking your dog sounds like another great book. It’s making me laugh just thinking about it. I hope your dog didn’t go to crazy after seeing something like that! Mine probably would have.

  3. This is such a great post, Sheila. I had an alpaca wool sweater once that I wore and wore and wore until it passed on. I didn’t know anything much about alpacas until now, though!

  4. They are much more cute than llamas. We have a llama farm around the block from my house and they are fun to see, but these little guys in your pictures are adorable.

  5. Awesome article! You sound like me. You see something that really intrigues you or is really interesting to you, and suddenly you have this great new passion and want to do the same completely new thing to you! I have seen alpacas, but never very close. Also, someone I knew when I was living in Pennsylvania said she raised alpacas and that I should stop by her farm, but alas, life got in the way, and I regretfully I never did. I wish I had after reading your article, though!

    • I do like to throw myself into things. It might also be because I’m getting tired of revising and querying. Alpacas are looking like an attractive alternative right now. 🙂 I hope you get to visit that farm in Pennsylvania sometime! That would be great to get an inside view of everything and you’d probably even get to help out with those morning chores.

  6. We have quite a number of alpaca farms around here in NH and Maine. And they are fun to visit and admire. My husband used to work with a man who sold alpaca clothing, and he got great discounts. I own a pair of alpaca socks that have never let me down in the most brutally cold weather. I swear by alpaca wool!

    My brother and his family live on the vineyard. I’ll have to ask him if they’ve ever been to Island Alpaca, although they live in West Tisbury, which I think is on the other side of the island? Dunno.

    • That’s good to know about the alpaca socks. My feet are always cold so I’ll have to give them a try. I guess West Tisbury is on the other side, but it isn’t too far. If I lived nearby I think I’d be there all the time! They could go watch a birthing in the spring or help with the morning chores. 🙂

  7. They are definitely friendlier than their bigger cousins. I try to stay away from animals that want to spit at me. 😉 And you’ve just made me realize that there are no animals in my time-travel manuscript. Hmm, I wonder if I could work in an alpaca or two…. 🙂

    • We’ll have to start an alpaca book trend! Lots of books have goats or dogs in them but I bet there aren’t many with alpacas. Or in the future maybe there would be different kinds of animals. I keep wanting to write a novel that’s not based on any kind of reality at all so maybe some strange futuristic animals should be included.

  8. They are much cuter than llamas and I love their hairdo! I have never seen one “in person” and would love to visit Martha’s Vineyard, too, Sheila! It sounds like a magical bike ride! xo

    • Hahah! Some of the hairdos are even wilder than these. That alone might make them more fun than goats. But since you’re an official member of the goat club, I’ll understand if you’re partial to goats. 🙂

    • The more I think about it, the more I’d like to be an alpaca farmer. Just being around those smiles would be fun. I’m guessing Wisconsin would be a good place to raise them too.

    • That’s funny! They’re very gentle but I suppose that smile could be thought of as a little sinister when looked at in a certain way. 🙂 Thank you and Merry Christmas hugs to you!

  9. Sheila they sound like the perfect cuddly pet to me, I did wonder were they like their cousins Llama’s and have had an experience with the spitting variety before, which left me with a new fear for animals that spit. Thanks for enlightening me.

    • Hahha – yes spitting animals can be messy! I thought of you and your picture books while writing this because alpacas and llamas could make great characters and it’s kind of funny that they’re cousins. I know you’re already overflowing with lots of ideas though!

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