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I was delighted to discover an alpaca farm near me in Mississippi and marked my calendar to make the short trip to Stringer, Mississippi for a visit. Each year the farm has a fall festival, and it was a wonderful experience.
This working alpaca farm is located just a few miles north of Laurel, Mississippi. These gentle hills and rural landscapes are sometimes visible in the popular television show Home Town on HGTV starring local residents Erin and Ben Napier.
But at A Stroka Gene Us, the alpacas are the stars of the show, especially during this fun fall festival event.
For the fall fiber festival, alpacas corralled into a small pasture near the festival entrance. The animals were eager to meet their visitors – especially with a hand full of alpaca snacks readily available.
The parking area was filling fast, but there was no need for concern as we were efficiently guided to an open parking space near the entry.
Our trip included visiting with the alpacas and other farm animals, carding and spinning demos, shopping with the product and food vendors, and stopping at the gift shop.
Here’s the rundown of our day.
A Stroka Gene Us – Alpaca Farm
The alpaca farm began in New York and relocated to Mississippi in August 2012. It’s a working farm with many different activities at any time.
In addition to the care of the on-site alpaca herd, the staff teaches classes in spinning fiber, crocheting, knitting, needle felting, and more. Ask for a class to learn about fiber arts.
Mary Ann Stroka is the resident expert on fiber creations she hosted us for our tour of the alpaca farm.
The Huacaya alpacas gathered near the fence in the petting area. They weren’t shy and are very inquisitive animals. Notice the beautiful colors in their coats. Our tour covered the A-Z of life with alpacas – the care and feeding, shearing process, carding the fiber, spinning, and finally some ready-to-crochet yarns in the farm store.
What is Alpaca Yarn?
Alpaca fleece is the proper name for the fibers harvested from alpacas. It is a soft and silky natural fiber, yet durable and easy to care for.
The alpaca hair is often compared to the wool from sheep, however, it does not have lanolin, and is therefore hypoallergenic. Some consider alpaca fleece, and the resulting garments, to be warmer than sheep’s wool and less itchy.
In the photo above the fleece has been harvested and placed in this wire bin for tumbling to clean it by removing the larger of the leaves and twigs that have accumulated in the harvesting process.
Each stage of processing continues to refine the fleece into yarn.
Alpaca fleece is delicate and lightweight. It does not retain water and is somewhat water resistant in a finished product.
These features were nature’s way of providing for the animals when they lived in the harsh climates of South America’s mountain ranges.
In these photos, the fibers have been carded and are ready to begin the spinning process. Notice the depth of color and the cotton-candy texture of these soft fibers.
How to Care for Alpaca Wool Clothing
When working with alpaca garments, care is essential for the longevity of the finished garment.
After handwashing, rinse the garment twice in clean, cold water. Gently squeeze out the excess water by hand. Be very gentle to avoid stretching and wrinkles. Lay the clothing between two large towels and then slowly roll the towels to absorb more moisture while holding the proper shape.
Let the garment “rest” in the towels for a few minutes. Lay the garment flat on a dry towel to finish the care process.
Do not hang to dry or use a drying machine.
Vendors and Alpaca Festival Activities
This festival was so much fun! The products in the vendor booths were just perfect for a fall outing.
This goat milk soap is available as a retail product in the farm store.
The Gift Shop and Product Sales Center
My day at the festival ended in the farm store/gift shop. The room was packed with everything from raw fiber to completely finished products. There was truly something for everyone!
The End of the Day
Yes, it was a full day of adventure at A Stroka Gene Us, and I enjoyed every minute. This guy checked out before the festival ended, but his work was done.
If You Go:
383 County Road 155
Stringer, Mississippi 39481
Call ahead to request a farm tour – (716) 863-4366
Hours of Operation
Tuesday through Saturday – 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
The Fall Festival is typically held the weekend before Thanksgiving, but check their website to confirm.
Click here for more Crochet Getaway fall festivals, yarn crawls, and events!
Click here for recommended Crochet Getaway retreat locations
What is special about alpacas?
The alpaca is one species but has two fleece types, often referred to as breeds. These are the huacaya alpacas and the suri alpacas. Huacaya alpacas produce crimpy, curly, dense, and fluffy soft fiber. The Suri alpacas have longer tight, curled locks that resemble dreadlocks and hang in long ringlets.
Are alpacas easy to raise?
Alpacas are generally very docile and easy to handle, making them an excellent choice for those interested in starting an alpaca farm animal operation.
They are also relatively low-maintenance compared to many other farm and range animals, and the alpacas only eat plants and vegetation. They spend the majority of their day grazing.
What is the purpose of raising alpacas?
The primary purpose of alpacas is to harvest their fiber, which can be turned into many different products, including yarn and fabric. Alpaca fiber is very strong and durable yet soft and lightweight, making it a popular choice for garments and other textile products.
How Do I get started with an Alpaca farm?
If you’re interested in starting an alpaca farm, there are a few things you need to know. First, alpacas are herd animals, so you should purchase at least two of them. Second, alpacas require some acreage for grazing, so you may incur land costs when starting your farm. Third, alpacas require some daily care, so be sure to factor in the costs of food, shelter, and medical care when planning your alpaca farm budget.
Alpacas are lovely creatures that can provide many benefits. If you’re thinking about starting an alpaca farm, be sure to do your research and make sure you have the space, money, and commitment required to care for these animals.
If you’re interested in alpaca fiber but don’t want to start your own farm, alpaca yarns are available online and in stores. Alpaca yarn is typically very soft and durable, making it ideal for many fiber arts projects, from sweaters to hats to blankets.
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