Rubbing noses with the camelids
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hampton - posted Tue., Nov. 5, 2013
A group of UConn pharmacy students approached a corral near the driveway of Safe Haven Alpaca Farm on Nov. 2. Brown Legacy, Woolrich and Quicksilver were shy and somewhat skittish. But the lure of the grain proved irresistible, and the three doe-eyed camelids quickly ambled over to eagerly scoop up morsels with their pliant, downy lips.
“This is what we do for fun,” quipped one of the students, as she offered another handful of food to Quicksilver. The students had come to Safe Haven for an open house, hosted jointly with Three Niece alpaca farm, located just a short distance down Providence Turnpike.
“This is our last open house of the fall,” said managing partner Steve Putney. The event offered opportunities to tour the farm, meet the animals, and take an alpaca for a walk. A portion of the proceeds from the event would go to benefit the nearby Channel 3 Kids’ Camp.
Farm employee Kim West, a senior at Woodstock Academy, entered the corral to help prepare the alpacas for a walk. “They know orders,” said Putney, explaining that the animals are highly intelligent.
At Three Niece, a group of visitors sat around a table, knitting needles in hand. Willimantic resident and knitting expert Dagmar Noll was teaching them how to knit. Nearby, there was an obstacle course set up in a grassy area. Visitors could guide an alpaca through the course, have a photo taken with a camelid, learn to knit and partake of free food. For Sunday, there were crocheting lessons planned for day two of the open house.
In addition to breeding and selling llamas, alpacas and camelid fiber products, Three Niece owners Sue and Mitch Beauregard have gotten their animals involved with showing. The Beauregards’ 5-year-old son, Lannie, collected a ribbon recently at the Big E with his alpaca, Luminescense. Lannie was reluctant to relinquish control of his new-found vocation. He followed a young visitor who was leading Luminscense around the ring. "I'll show you how to do it," said Lannie.
Three Niece manages three main lines of business at the farm; alpaca and llama sales, fresh eggs from free range hens and fresh produce sales, and private-label jams, jellies, spice rubs and relishes. For more information, go to http://www.threeniecefarm.com/.
Safe Haven is one of the nation’s largest alpaca farms and stores, raising both the Huacaya and the rarer Suri alpaca, according to the farm website. The on-site retail store carries alpaca fiber merchandise, as well as artwork, wood crafts, local jams and jellies and more. For more information, go to http://www.safehavenalpaca.com/index.htm.