By AUSTIN RITCHEA TOWER staff writer
Trinity Farms is a family run business by John Rudland and his wife, Christine. It houses many different homemade items, like hand carved wooden statues and stuffed animal toys; the store even makes clothing out of alpaca fur. John has his own alpacas who reside in the surrounding shelters which he personally cares for throughout the year and he allows customers free visits.
“Alpacas are very timid and shy animals,” said John. “They’re related to the llama, but they’re not as aggressive.”
Alpacas are not native to North America, so John has to take some measures when caring for these animals by adjusting to this foreign habitat.
“You have to give them certain minerals that aren’t native to this area,” said John. “They’re from South America, Peru, and Chile. You have to give them shots once a month. You have to make sure they have plenty of food. They don’t eat much, but if they don’t have enough food they just go ‘Well, we’ll find someplace else’.”
The difficulty rises a little during the winter months when caring for the alpacas.
“My biggest preparation for winter, besides stocking up on hay, is to keep the water from freezing. I have to get electricity to their water containers. I have water lines running above ground, connected to rain barrels, and I have to keep that from freezing,” said John. “The winter is all about heating. Alpacas love the winter. You can go outside after a heavy snow and find them with a layer of snow on their back. Their fur really protects them from the cold weather. If you pull back their fur, you’ll see steam rise up into the cold.”
The store specializes in a few items made out of the alpaca fur, like socks, coats, and blankets. The fur is much softer than materials made of llama wool. It is often compared to silk as being similar in strength as well as durability. It is also able to retain heat very well, therefore the coats are a popular choice for the winter. The fleece of an alpaca has a much wider range of colors than any other animal that is used for its fleece. There have been at least 22 different colors ranging from black to white, along with many different shades.
Alpacas are better for fleece compared to llamas due to their nature. They have been domesticated for over 6000 years as a fiber-producing animal. They are much smaller than llamas and they are easier to train as well due to their high intelligence. They are much safer than llamas; they don’t bite as much, spit as much, or even kick. There are far fewer problems than other livestock used for fiber, like sheep.
One problem with alpacas is that, due to their innate shyness, they do not often form bonds with their owner. They are much more skittish than the llama, and llamas are much more likely to become a pet of sorts.
Alpacas only make noise when penned in with other alpacas. You may be able to hear them humming softly to each other. If they are startled or spot a prey, however, they will make a shrill call to warn others nearby. If they are annoyed or irritated, they tend to make a clicking noise.
The store is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. with a small break from 3:00 P.M. to 4:15 P.M. The owners do allow custom orders at the cost of extra time and a higher price for the requested item. The business is located on Washington Pike across from the Highlands Golf Course, so be sure to stop by and look at their wares.