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Meet the Allreads. Just your typical couple, raising 20 alpacas on their 24-acre farm at Booker Road, outside of Springfield.
Two years ago, husband and wife, Ron and Judi, packed up the pack in two trailers and spent three days hauling the two-ton herd from northern Idaho to central Kentucky, where they launched Serano Alpacas & Yarns.
In addition to serving as home to their 11 female and nine male alpacas, the operation offers tours and sells socks, sweaters and blankets made from alpaca and other natural fiber.
“We try to focus on USA-made and Kentucky Proud items,” Judi said. “A natural fiber garment will last longer.”
Outside the farm’s 1,792-square-feet all-purpose building;, the herds are separated by gender.
There’s Dagwood and Blondie. And Chacana — named after the Incan cross, which is symbolic in Incan mythology.
Feel free to get up close and personal, but exercise caution: spit happens.
When threatened or excited, alpacas may excrete spit — though the habit’s more typical when their battling for food.
A relative to the camel, alpacas originated around modern day Peru.
The domesticated mammals, today, have a larger presence in North America and are often shown at exhibitions throughout the country.
“But these guys were really bred for their fiber,” Ron said.
Alpaca wool is reportedly seven times warmer than sheep wool and a versatile textile for clothing and accessories.
Each spring, the Alread’s alpacas are sheared.
“The prime [fiber] is from the neck to the middle of the ribcage and to the hips,” Judi said.
Length, texture and consistency is important in the fiber.
After shearing, the fiber is washed, combed, pressed into batt and later converted into yarn.
“If we get an animal with eight pounds of fiber, it will translate to 48 ounces of yarn,” Judi said. “From that, we can probably make 12 scarves.”
The Allread’s farm is also the home of small groups that gather at least weekly to knit, crochet and spin fiber. Earlier this month, members from the groups made and donated 15 scarves, which will be worn by athletes, coaches and volunteers in the Kentucky Special Olympics 2013 Winter Games.