Lo­cal cou­ple raises feisty, per­son­able al­pacas

The Covington News - - Front Page - Joy Bratcher jbratcher@cov­news.com

Mike and Melissa Hall don't have an or­di­nary farm. While some peo­ple would like to have tra­di­tional farm an­i­mals like cows and chick­ens, they choose to have al­pacas.

“It all started when we went on va­ca­tion to the moun­tains,” Melissa said. “On one side of the cabin there was a small creek on the other an Al­paca farm. We knew by the end of the trip we had to have our own.”

Mike and Melissa have 14 al­pacas. One of them is cur­rently be­ing bor­rowed for breed­ing pur­poses. They’ve had them for a lit­tle over a year but have owned them for two years. Their first year had to be spent on an al­paca farm lo­cated in North Carolina.

“We were look­ing for some­thing to oc­cupy us post re­tire­ment. I be­lieve that they’ll be able to fill the job,” Mike said with a laugh. “They never cease to give us a chuckle.

“They are the cutest an­i­mals. Each one has a dif­fer­ent style and per­son­al­ity. They de­fi­nately make barn chores a lot more fun to say the least,” Mike said.

There are a lot more to al­pacas than just their looks though. They are mainly used for the fiber that is lo­cated in their fleece. The fiber is used to make yarns for rugs, ex­te­rior gar­ments and much more.

“The fiber from the al­pacas along with their fleece is un­like any other an­i­mal. It’s not itchy and it’s warm be­cause the fleece has a hol­lowed shaft mak­ing it also wa­ter proof,” Melissa said.

“Tex­tile in­dus­tries come to us many times through the year want­ing the fiber from the al­pacas, but it’s hard be­cause we only sheer once a year. That’s why the in­dus­try hasn’t truly got­ten into full swing yet, but I be­lieve it will in the fu­ture,” Mike said.

One of the main rea­sons why the al­paca fiber is so pop­u­lar is be­cause of its abil­ity to ab­sorb col­ors, al­though the al­pacas can be 22 dif­fer­ent col­ors. Some­times Melissa will dye the yarn to make prod­ucts to sell.

“I like to sew scarves, hats, gloves, socks, dolls and a lot more. By dy­ing the yarn it makes the prod­ucts more unique and orig­i­nal,” she said.

The Halls also show their al­pacas in dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions through­out the year. Mike, usu­ally par­tic­i­pates in the events with the an­i­mals. Their al­paca So­phie won Al­paca of the Year. So­phie re­ceived the honor through a point sys­tem that judged on qual­i­ties such as fiber, fleece and much more. Their other al­pacas have re­ceived awards as well, such as the Spirit of the In­dus­try award that was given to al­paca Rider.

“Al­paca com­pe­ti­tions aren’t like other com­ple­tions. The peo­ple are friend­lier and ev­ery­one seems like fam­ily. There’s no cut­throat busi­ness. We of­ten say that the al­paca life­style is al­ways filled with many laughs” Mike said.

Joy Bratcher / The Cov­ing­ton News

MIke and Melissa Hall raise 14 al­pacas on their farm, and har­vest their wool for yarn.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.