Visitors to Maine expect to see wildlife: deer, fox, seals. A moose if they’re lucky. And farm animals–Rockport’s Aldermere Farm is a big local draw for those charmed by its “Oreo” cows, the Belted Galloways. But alpacas?
The number of farms in Maine is on the rise. Easy to care for and well-suited for Maine’s cooler climate, alpacas are the hot new farm animal.
What’s so great about alpacas? As livestock, they require very little land and minimal housing, fencing, and veterinary attention, and can be sustainably raised. They are neat animals as livestock go, using community dung piles that are easy to clean up. Their manure is so rich in nutrients that it is known as “alpaca gold.” Their calm demeanor and relatively predictable behavior makes them a great farm animal for all ages (and easier to handle than the larger llamas). But they’re also smart, curious, and cute–those big brown eyes!
Domesticated over 5,000 years ago in the Andes of South America, alpacas are well known for their high quality wool, which is soft as cashmere but unlike wood, contains no lanolin. Alpaca yarn is strong and fun to knit with.
There are now four alpaca farms within easy driving distance of the Camden area: Blueberry Farm Alpacas is in Camden itself. Acadia Alpacas in Morrill and Weskeag Farms Alpacas also host small herds. Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm in Unity, Maine is the largest alpaca farm locally, with more than 30 animals, and is also the best configured for visitors. With advance notification, and for a small fee, they will host groups of seven or more and provide farm tours and information.
If you can’t make it to one of these farms at a time when they are hosting visitors, you can sign up for Northern Solstice’s Live Alpaca Cam to keep an eye on their alpacas–including the new babies–anytime you want!
Northern Solstice also has a great gift shop nearby, the Maine Alpaca Experience, on Route One in Northport. In addition to cozy alpaca gifts for all and a big selection of yarn and fibers, you can watch the alpaca cam right in the shop.