Windy Hill loves their alpacas
PIONEER, OH -- Being one of the new kids on the block hasn’t hurt the popularity of the Alpacas in the United States. The first animals imported to America came from Chile in 1984 and their population has grown since then. Jerelyn Spangler of Pioneer, Ohio has been raising them for the last 11 years.
“We moved here 17 years ago and added the barns for the animals,” Spangler said. “We started out with five animals from Pennsylvania.”
Within those five were four females and one male. Two of the girls were pregnant, presenting Spangler with an additional two for her fledgling herd. Currently they have five males and seven females on their ten acre farm. Within the acreage is seven pens providing for rotational grazing areas. The animals prefer pasture but are supplied with grain and hay to round out their diet.
One of the primary purposes of the alpaca is their fiber which is considered luxurious and desired by hand spinners. The type of alpacas at Windy Hill Alpaca Farm, Spangler’s place, is a huacaya. The other type is called suri with both being highly regarded. The best quality fiber is found on the belly of the animal. The fiber off of a baby who is under two years of age is the finest and gives the most volume. Beyond those early years, the fiber amount decreases and will slowly lose the quality. The average life span of an alpaca is 22-25 years with the residents at Windy Hill ranging from 3-14.
Spangler has the alpacas sheared once a year in the spring. The fiber is then sent to be cleaned and processed into yarn. Because alpaca fiber does not contain much elasticity, it is a good idea to blend it with a quality wool as the “memory” improves. That means when a garment made of the yarn is stretched, it will return to the original shape and size after washed properly. Spangler has some skeins of 100% alpaca along with additional ones made of 70% alpaca and 30% Merino wool, which is known to be allergy-free.
As one of the males produces 14 pounds of fiber yearly, she has an abundance to work with and several skeins prepared to sell. Spangler has sold at Salomon Farm in Fort Wayne, IN in the past as well as other local festivals. A shop in Perrysburg, OH carries her products on a regular basis.
Having started with one of the original animals that came from Chile to the United States, Spangler is happy to just keep her herd small but of the highest quality with many years of fiber collecting ahead of her.
Jerelyn and Jim Spangler