Blue Moon Ranch Alpacas are eager to meet the public
Open Barn Days runs Sept. 23-24
September 21, 2017
Linda Gardner and her husband, Ed Heintz, have owned Blue Moon Alpaca Ranch in Woodland for nearly two decades.
For 13 of those years, they have invited the public to enjoy Fall Open Barn Days, a free two-day event where people can visit the ranch, buy alpaca-themed gifts, learn about alpacas, take photos of and maybe even pet a couple of the animals through a fence.
This year's Open Barn Days will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23-24, at the ranch located at 3535 S. 1000 East.
"During the Open Barn Days, we keep the alpacas fenced off, but people can walk through areas that are cordoned off and still touch and pet them if the animals come up to the fence, and some usually do," Gardner said.
This year, the alpaca herd is a little smaller than in the past.
"We've sold quite few, so we're down to 50, maybe 49, which is our lowest herd ever," Gardner said.
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With fewer animals, the land is rejuvenating itself.
"I can see the pasture is growing back, and we have more leg room in the barn," Gardner said with a laugh.
Still it's the animals that draw people to the ranch.
"They like coming to Open Barn Days because they have the chance to see and touch the alpacas," Gardner said. "I get a lot of people who come back year after year."
Another draw is the fresh alpaca yarn that is for sale.
"We get the yarn after shearing the alpacas in June," Gardner said. "We send it off to Salt Lake and most of it is spun by September."
A few months ago, Gardner sent 15 bagfuls of yarn down to the valley.
"Before we send it, I skirt the fleece, which means I pull out the hair that doesn't match the best color of the fleece," she said. "So I'll pull out the belly hair, and any dirty tags."
In addition to the yarn, Gardner sells fresh soaps she makes in her home.
"We have a new scent this year called Sea Spray, and it makes you feel like you're at the ocean," she said. "At least I think so."
Garner made a new vanilla soap as well.
"That one is so rich smelling," she said. "Of course, we have the old standards — Boyfriend, oatmeal and Alpaca Spice — that have been favorites over the years. I still sell out of Alpaca Spice every time."
Along with the soaps, Gardner has created loofas.
"I'll wrap bars of soap in alpaca fiber, and you use it in the shower or the bath to exfoliate your skin," she said. "As the soap shrinks, you're left with a tiny scrubber made from the alpaca fleece."
Soaps, loofas and yarn aren't the only things available during Open Barn Days.
Gardner sells ceramic yarn bowls and mugs created by Karylyn Bliss and her daughter Kourtney Johnson, the founders of Chikamu Arts, which is based in Summit County.
"They make a lot of stuff, but the yarn bowls and mugs sell the best here," Gardner said. "We also sell alpaca fleece dryer balls. They are a natural alternative to dryer sheets."
Children will enjoy the new alpaca puppets.
"Some of the puppets are bigger and use the whole hand, and some are smaller, finger puppets," Gardner said.
If people want to have a more up-close experience with the alpacas, Blue Moon Ranch offers private tours by appointment.
"That's when people can really go behind the fences and get really close with the animals," Gardner said.
She also offers reiki sessions by appointment.
"It's been amazing how many people those sessions help," Gardner said. "People love the way alpacas make the feel. They also like the quietness and peacefulness of the ranch. So I thought I would put my massage table out there.
"The alpaca industry, in my humble opinion, has changed so that if you don't diversify, you won't make ends meet." she said. "So I do other jobs around here, like reiki sessions. I'm also a licensed massage therapist as well."
Still, there isn't anything that matches the energy of Open Barn Days.
"I enjoy Open Barn Days because I like to see the love people give my animals," she said. "People tell me how peaceful or magical it is out here, and I really want to share that."
The public is invited to the 2017 fall Open Barn Days from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 24, at Blue Moon Ranch, 3535 S. 1000 East, in Woodland. Visitors will get up close with the ranch's alpacas and have the opportunity to buy yarn, handmade soaps, and alpaca-yarn accessories. The event is free. No dogs will be allowed. For information, visit http://www.bluemoonranch.net.