Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch invites public to its Open Barn Days (w/video)
What: Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch Open Barn Days
When: Saturday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Sept. 30
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch, 3535 E. 1000 South, Woodland
Who: 49 wooly friends
How much: Free
For more information, visit Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch’s website at www.bluemoonranch.net.
Linda Gardner, owner of the Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch in Woodland, has six new alpaca babies to show off during her business’s fall open barn days, which take place this weekend.
One of the alpaca offspring, known as crias, according to Gardner, is lucky to be alive after more than a year of gestation, she said.
“Usually alpaca babies have a 345-day gestation period, but he obviously didn’t read the handbook,” Gardner said.
After a veterinarian made a series of ranch calls, Gardner decided it was time to induce labor.
“That is something that I really don’t like to do, because it’s like going against Mother Nature,” she said. “But the (alpaca) mom, Ciara, couldn’t seem to get her hormones going.”
Gardner named the baby Rowdy, because he caused such a disturbance, and he will celebrate his three-week birthday this weekend.
The fall Open Barn Days are the ranch’s big event, which runs two days instead of one, said Gardner.
“That means longer hours, and the crowds aren’t as intense during the single-day events we host throughout the year,” she said.
Gardner and her husband, Ed Heintz, fence off the alpacas, but erect walkways so visitors can get close to the animals that want to be petted, she said.
“We’ll have a lot of volunteers who will come help us out this year,” she said. “Some will be on the trail and will answer any questions the visitors will have. We also will post some information signs that contain alpaca trivia posted on the fences around the ranch.”
Visitors lucky enough to pet the alpacas will notice the individuals’ short layers of fleece.
“We sheared them the first weekend of June, and they have grown back enough fleece to stay warm during the cold season,” Gardner said. “Our shearers are phenomenal. There’s a team of four that come from Ohio, and they spend five minutes per animal. We had two stations in the barn and they had our whole herd done before lunch time.”
The sheared fleece is sent to Salt Lake City where it is spun into yarn, and some of the product of the alpacas’ coats will be sold during Open Barn Days.
And Gardner is dying her own yarn.
“I soak it in citric acid for about an hour and then put it in a dye pot.”
Gardner hopes the dye works out.
“I’m hoping for purple today,” she said with a laugh. “Sometimes the color splits and I get red, blue and purple.”
Gardner’s alpaca herd totals 49 animals, 10 of whom are male.
“I’m trying to keep my herd under 50 alpacas, because that’s manageable for me,” she said. “I feel like I should be able to feed and care for all the alpacas that I breed. And while I do sell some of the alpacas, I don’t want to feel pressured into having to sell them.”
While the alpacas and skeins of yarn will be the big draw this weekend, Open Barn Days will also sell yarn bowls and beverage mugs made by Summit County-based vendor Chikamu Arts, a mother and daughter ceramics company.
The event will also feature an array of items created by Gardner including knitted hats, alpaca photographs and homemade soaps.
“I’ve been making a lot of hats lately,” she said. “And we’ll have a batch of new soaps.”
The money made from the sales will go toward winter food for the alpacas, according to Gardner.
The event will include an opportunity drawing for a free private ranch tour for four, which is an $80 value.
Gardner will provide entry forms, and the winner of the sweepstakes will be selected Sunday. Winners don’t need to be in attendance to win.
Gardner and Heintz started owning alpacas with a small herd 20 years ago when they lived in Herriman. They moved to Woodland 15 years ago, and have enjoyed hosting Open Barn Days ever since.
“I love seeing people enjoy the alpacas,” Gardner said. “We do a lot of tours, and not everyone can afford $20 to come and see the alpacas (normally). So we hold these open barn days.”
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