Alpacas on show at Christmas fair

Some of Lorna Ramsden’s alpacas on Ohio Farm. Rosie, second from left, was her first alpaca.

The owner of Ohio Farm in Noordhoek, home to 45 alpacas, will host an Alpaca Christmas Fair, on Saturday, December 10, and Sunday, December 11.

Lorna Ramsden has lived on the farm with its large paddocks and stables surrounded by a picturesque garden and an avenue of oaks since 1987.

The stable area on the farm will be transformed into market with a food caravan and a variety of stalls selling alpaca products, beer, coffee, bread and plants.

Clothes, rugs, and spun wool will be on sale as well.

The farm is located on Chapman’s Peak Drive, in Noordhoek, and will be open from 10am to 4pm each day. Entry is R30 a person and free for children.

Ms Ramsden said there would be plenty of parking on the field in front of the farm and the front gates would be opened for the elderly and disabled so vehicles could be parked at the courtyard’s entrance.

The farm has been home to alpacas since 2003. Asked why the farm was called Ohio, Ms Ramsden said it is believed that the farm was an out hospital where soldiers were treated during World War II. It was the tenth hospital in the area and was called Out Hospital 10 which was abbreviated to OH10, hence Ohio.

Ms Ramsden bought her first alpaca, Cabopas Roza, affectionately called Rosie, after seeing an ad for an alpaca open day in the Farmer’s Weekly.

It was at this open day, at Agter Paarl Road, that she first saw Rosie, who was 9 months old at the time.

Rosie was born in September 2002 at Gavin Lindhorst’s farm, African Alpacas, in Wellington.

“She was in a small paddock at the entrance and rushed over to greet me with soft calls of welcome. I was totally smitten and bought her shortly afterward,” Ms Ramsden said.

Rosie, who is now 20, has many “grandchildren” on the farm and can be seen by visitors during the fair, Ms Ramsden said.

“She was one of my first two females and has produced some lovely babies. She has always been exceptionally friendly, loves people, and enjoys getting carrots as a treat.”

Ms Ramsden said the “luxurious fibre” from alpacas made soft, warm garments and the spun wool was particularly good for hand-knitters.

Alpacas, she said, were mostly farmed in the Andean countries of Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, and most of the herds lived at high altitudes, between 4 000 metres and 5 000 metres above sea level.

Smaller than the llama, she said, alpacas stand about 92cm at the shoulder and typically weigh around 60kg to 70kg while some can weigh up to 100kg.

Ms Ramsden said alpacas produce a superb heavy fleece of fine, strong fibre which can also cover their legs and face and gives them a “very attractive” appearance.

The Ohio farm alpacas, which are Huacayas – one of two alpaca breeds that produce crimpy, curly, dense, and soft wool – were last shorn on Tuesday November 1 and Wednesday, November 2.

An annual shearing, Ms Ramsden said, produced about 2kg of very fine fibre per alpaca with the babies producing a little less.

“They are so happy after they have had their fleeces shorn and enjoy rolling in the grass as soon as they are back in their paddocks. It is a totally new experience seeing them at this time of year because you can really appreciate their long, elegant necks and delicate bodies,” she said.

She said alpacas are gentle by nature and easy to handle and come in a variety of colours from white to black and mixes of grey and brown.

Visitors to Ohio Farm can appreciate the alpaca’s long, elegant necks and delicate bodies, after their annual shear which took place last month.
The stables at Ohio Farm will be transformed into a market as can be seen from the farm’s last fair held in 2019.