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The Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch in Woodland will present its ninth annual open barn days this weekend. The event will give the public a chance to learn about alpacas and purchase wool, homemade soaps and accessories from Ya Ya's Yarn Barn. (Christopher Reeves/Park Record)
For the past nine years, Linda Gardner and Ed Heintz have opened their Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch in Woodland to visitors.

The idea is to let the public see and learn what alpacas are.

"We did an open house when we lived in Herriman with our alpaca's 12 years ago to show our neighbors what we did," Gardner said during an interview with The Park Record. "We showed them the alpacas, which are not llamas, and the fiber that these animals produce."

When Gardner and Heintz moved to Woodland, they decided to make the open barn event an annual celebration.

This year, the open barn days will be Saturday, Sept. 28, and Sunday, Sept. 29.

The hours will be 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

"The reason we chose those times is because we're feeding, cleaning and scrambling to do the ordinary farm chores during those days," Gardner said with a smile.

A new attraction this year is Ya Ya's Yarn Barn, a little shed that stores and displays yarn, unspun wool, accessories, soaps and more.

"My grandson decided my name should be Ya Ya and I decided to have fun with that," Gardner said. "So I made Ya Ya's Yarn Barn.

Before, we had a showroom in part of the garage, but we have since outgrown that," she said. "Now, I can have people over no matter what the weather and it's so durable and study."

Some of the yarn and wool for sale comes from the Blue Moon animals, Gardner said.

And she makes the soaps herself through what is known as the cold-process method.


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"I use the best oils — olive, coconut and palm kernel oil — with liquified lye and a little bit of glycerin to hold it all together," she said. "I also put in some essential oils and sometimes oatmeal to exfoliate the skin and when you mix it up, it's called saponification, which is where the word soap comes from."

Another new addition this year is Diva the alpaca, who was born two weeks ago, while The Park Record conducted the interview for this story.

"We will have 80 alpacas on-site all together during the event," Gardner said.

The open barn days hav become the most lucrative events for Gardner and Heintz, but money isn't the main focus.

"We do sell a whole lot of yarn and other stuff, but it's fun for me to talk to other people about my passion, which is the alpaca," Gardner said. "We guestimate that 600 people visited us last year and, considering we're a little farm located out in the middle of nowhere, that's pretty good.

"Since we've done it all these years at the same time, many people have told us they plan their visits to the area around that time," she said.

Throughout the years, the most common question her visitors ask is "Do the aplacas spit?" Gardner said.

"Yes, they do, but only if you corner one of them and terrify them," she said. "It's their way of saying, 'You're scaring me.'

"But if that happens, all you need to do is take a shower," Gardner explained. "You won't need stitches."

Gardner was last spat upon three years ago.

"I was trying to train a one-year-old alpaca to walk with me with a halter and the mom didn't trust me," she said. "She covered me."

During the open barn days, the ranch will have volunteers who will talk about the animals.

"Alpacas are the sweetest creatures that I have ever seen and they have taught me everything I know about how to care for them," Gardner said. "I listen to and watch the animals carefully and learn what they need.

"We don't use any vaccinations or de-wormers," she said. "My philosophy is if I keep them without adding additional stress into their lives, their own immune systems can handle most of what comes their way. And they are as healthy as you'll find anywhere."

The Blue Moon Aplaca Ranch, 3535 S. 1000 East in Woodland, will host its annual open barn days on Saturday, Sept. 28, and Sunday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Yarn and other alpaca-related items will be available for purchase and the alpacas will be out and about. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.bluemoonranch.net/2013annual_fall_open_farm_day.htm .