Camelids the stars of farm open house
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hampton - posted Mon., Apr. 29, 2013
Alpacas and llamas are sometimes aloof. Many people think of them as spitters, and in fact most camelids do spit. However, according to experts, when the animals are correctly reared, a llama spitting at a human is a rare thing. Llamas are very social herd animals, however, and do sometimes spit at each other as a way of disciplining lower-ranked llamas in the herd. A solitary llama is an unhappy llama; a well-adjusted llama (or alpaca), kept with others in a herd, is much less likely to spit at humans.
This fact was aptly demonstrated by the llamas and alpacas on display at an open house at Safe Haven Alpaca Farm on Oct. 27. Coordinated by the Hampton Agriculture Commission, the event introduced the public to the camelids and provided a sampling of the products available through Safe Haven and a neighboring farm, Three Niece.
“I was looking around to promote the farmers in Hampton,” said Agriculture Commission Chair Deb Espinosa. “Hampton has so much to offer. We wanted to start to highlight the town as a destination for the area.”
Three Niece owners Mitch and Sue Beauregard, and Safe Haven partners Steve Putney and Edie Roxburgh, were the first local farmers to answer the call. Safe Haven, started in 2001, has established itself as a mentoring facility in the growing alpaca industry. “When you get started in the business, you need somebody to help you along,” said Putney. Safe Haven actually helped Three Niece get established with a herd. While Safe Haven offers a variety of alpaca products for sale through its General Store and offers high-quality animals for sale, “Our real focus is in helping others to get started and helping to grow the industry,” said Putney.
At the open house, the general store offered a variety of alpaca goods for sale, including scarves, sweaters and other garments. The fleece is exceptionally soft. In fact, one of the major differences between alpacas and llamas is the quality of the fleece. Llamas are generally twice the size of alpacas and are bred primarily as pack animals. “Their fleece is known for the durability of the goods,” said Beauregard. The alpaca is exclusively bred for the quality of the fleece.
Among the items available through Three Niece were bread mixes, rubs, jams and jellies. The farm maintains a produce stand at its location on Route 6, selling fresh eggs and produce. Other products are available online or by appointment. At the open house, the Beauregards were kept busy grilling chicken and shrimp featuring their unique meat rubs.
The camelid star of the open house was undoubtedly Toffee, a sable female llama from Three Niece who was exceptionally friendly with all of the visitors. “She’s just really, really outgoing and gentle,” said Beauregard. Toffee spent her time nudging visitors and patiently submitting to hugs, all the while making the delightful, throaty hum which is one of the llama’s signature sounds. Toffee and her two corral companions would often stare off into the surrounding hillside at the herd of alpacas freely roaming Safe Haven. Llamas are extremely vigilant, explained Beauregard. In fact they are often used to guard herds of sheep, alpacas, goats or other livestock. “They are just natural-born guards,” said Beauregard.
Three Niece is located at 340 Providence Turnpike (Route 6) in Hampton and operates a seasonal farm stand. Other products, such as fleece, rug yarn, jams, jellies, bread mixes and meat rubs, are available online at threeniecefarm.com, or by appointment at 860-455-0485.
Safe Haven Alpaca Farm and Country Stores offers alpacas, clothing, accessories, gifts, yarn, art, jams, jellies and alpaca herd advice. Contact them at 860-455-0054 or 860-942-6066. The Country Store is open seven days a week during the holiday season, beginning Nov. 8. Hours are generally noon to 6 p.m.
According to a brochure provided at the open house, alpacas are easy on the land as a result of their padded feet and soft nails. They are easy to care for, requiring little effort, small amounts of grain, access to hay and fresh water and minimal shelter. They provide multiple income streams, from the sales of fleece, offspring and manure (low-ammonia and high-nutrient). And alpacas are federally designated as livestock, gentle, adaptable and trainable.