My guest is Steve Putney from Safe Haven Alpaca Farm, one of the largest breeders of both Suri and Huacaya alpaca in the northeast United States. We’ll be talking about alpaca as a toxic-free renewable and sustainable material for clothing, bedding, and other products.. Steve grew up in Iowa in a rural community. Following graduation from high school he entered into radio broadcasting, and spent the next 17 years working in all aspects of media. His experience in business and marketing took him to Houston, Texas in 1995 where he began a career in telecommunications In 2005 Steve moved to Connecticut to over-see operations of Safe Haven Alpaca Farm, a family business that began in 2001 with six alpaca. The addition of a large retail store featuring alpaca clothing, gifts and accessories, a bed and breakfast and growing the herd from twenty alpaca to over 100 have been accomplished since he joined the business. Steve Putney on the Board of Directors of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association. www.safehavenalpaca.com
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Getting to Know Alpacas
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Steve Putney
Date of Broadcast: September 25, 2013
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world.
Today is Wednesday, September 25, 2013. And I’m here in Clearwater, Florida on a beautiful autumn day. It’s just gray and drizzling and quiet. Very nice!
So today, we’re going to talk about alpacas. And the reason we’re talking about alpacas today is because this weekend, it is National Alpaca Farm Days. There are many alpaca farms all over the United States that will be open, and you can go and take your family and visit and meet the alpacas.
If you go to NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com, about halfway down the page, there’s a menu item that says “find a farm,” just click on that, and you can find a farm near you and go visit the alpacas. It’s a wonderful thing to do.
I’ve met many alpacas. And I just think they are wonderful animals. And it will be a great outing for your family and your kids.
You’ll like the alpacas.
And we’re going to learn all about alpacas today.
One of the reasons why I wanted to have a show about alpacas is because when we’re looking at toxic chemicals—and if you’ve been listening to this show, you know there are many, many toxic chemicals all over the place in all kinds of consumer products.
If you’re wanting to move away from toxic chemical exposure, there’s actually a scale with different degrees, a gradient, where, at the worst, would be to use an industrial product made from toxic chemicals. And then, the next better thing would be to use an industrial product made from petroleum products that are not toxic.
And then, the next better thing would be to use an industrial product made from ingredients that have natural renewable sources like coconut oil is one that we’ve been talking about a lot on this show recently. But there are many natural ingredients that start with a natural, renewable material, and then they put it through an industrial process. And what comes out at the other end is an industrial ingredient, some of which are toxic.
For example, salt, in its natural state, is vital to health and very good for you. It has many natural minerals. But when they put salt through industrial processing, you get something called refined salt, which is, when you just see salt on the label, that’s what it is, refined salt. And it’s virtually in every processed food that’s on the market. You get symptoms. It affects your health.
You get high blood pressure and all kinds of other—wreaking havoc in your body because salt now has become an industrial chemical.
And then, the very best is to just get out of that industrial model entirely and use things that are produced by nature outside of the industrial system. And alpaca is one of those things where they’re out in nature, they’re eating grass, or whatever. We’ll find out what they eat. And they’re sheared, and then they’re made into products that we can us. And it’s all natural.
So my guest today is Steve Putney from Safe Haven Alpaca Farm. And he’s on the board of directors of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association.
Thanks for being with us, Steve.
STEVE PUTNEY: Thank you for having me.
DEBRA: So, tell us your story about how you got to be raising alpacas.
STEVE PUTNEY: Well, the Safe Haven began back in 2001. My mother-in-law had a large piece of property and wanted to do something with it. I saw an ad in the magazine toward a few farms, fell in love with the animals, and decided to purchase a package of animals and began the alpaca farm.
I came up in 2005 to help her run the operation, and grow the operation, and try to get more involved in the industry itself, which we have done. And I’ve been doing it since 2005. It’s what I do full time. And I love what I do.
DEBRA: Don’t you think that most people [unintelligible 04:29].
STEVE PUTNEY: Well, I think a lot of people, that’s where they start. For anybody that hasn’t been exposed to the alpaca, they’re often confused with the llama. But they’re much smaller. The llama has more of a guard-type mentality, a territorial mentality. The alpaca is a very soft, very gentle animal to be around.
And animals that have been exposed to people are desensitized. You can come up, you can touch them, you can interact with them. And they’re like no other animal you’ve ever been around before.
And so, I think that experience captures a lot of people’s imagination to say, “Hey, this is something that I would like to walk out my back door and be able to do every day as well.”
DEBRA: So, tell us, what’s the process of raising an alpaca? What do they eat? Do you treat them with pesticides? What’s it like in the life of an alpaca?
STEVE PUTNEY: Well, the life of a single alpaca, they’re going to eat about four to five pounds of either hay, grass, some sort of porridge every day. There is a processed grain, if you will. It’s made differently. There isn’t a national company that’s doing it like Purina or anything like that. So, it’s local companies that are making these recipes.
It’s fairly standardized all over. They’re pretty close to being the same thing. And they get about a pound of that a day. A 50-pound bag, it varies a little bit from one end of the country, but $15 to $20. And they eat about a pound of that a day. So obviously, a bag of feed lasts you a long time.
And again, hay cost varies a lot from coast to coast and border to border. And so […] as well.
So, you will have people that have large pasture areas where they’re grazing animals, they’re not necessarily feeding [unintelligible 06:28]. You have other people that are using what we refer to as “dry lot,” which means there isn’t any grass growing, and they’re feeding out hay.
And they don’t require a lot of medical care. They’re pretty hardy animals. They can stand up to all kinds of different weather-type conditions. And so, there’s not a lot of veterinarian costs associated with the animal as well.
DEBRA: So, when it’s time to shear the alpaca—and I’m asking this question because I know there’s a lot of people who are concerned about animal rights and not wanting to kill animals, so they don’t wear wools from sheep that have been killed for meat. But you’re not killing the alpacas for meat, are you? You’re just shearing them because who eats alpaca meats? Does anybody eat alpaca meat?
STEVE PUTNEY: There are some farms in the United States that are raising alpacas and to cull the herd. And for people who don’t understand what that is, you have animals that, for whatever reason, are not going to be breeding animals. They are non-productive animals. They are producing a meat product from those, and are harvesting the hide. There are some farms out there that are doing that.
For the most part, everybody in the industry were raising them primarily for the fleece. And we shear them once a year. And the shearing process is actually—it’s an interesting process because the alpaca, as long as it feels confined, it doesn’t really try to fight you very much. But if it feels like it can get away, it will try.
So, we do actually tie them down, which sounds really bad. But it protects the animal from hurting itself and the people who are doing the shearing from getting hurt as well.
And there are three cuts to the alpaca fleece versus a sheep fleece which comes off as a solid piece. There are three separate cuts—the blanket, which is the finest alpaca; the seconds, which is still very, very usable in garments (you just wouldn’t want to have it right up against your skin as it’s going to have some guard hairs and things); and then the thirds, which work really well for things like stuffing quilts, pillows and things like that.
And so, it’s a little bit different than what people would see with shearing a sheep. But it’s not harmful to the animal in any way, shape or form. And the shearers across the United States are very, very careful to take exceptionally good care of the animals.
So shearing, it’s probably more traumatic to the people doing it because [unintelligible 09:11] animal themselves.
DEBRA: We need to take a break, but we’ll be back. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio.
We’re talking about alpacas today because this weekend is National Alpaca Farm Days. You can go to NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com and find out where you can go to a local farm and meet an alpaca. And we’ll be right back after this.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And today, we’re talking about alpacas with Steve Putney from Safe Haven Alpaca Farm. This weekend, you can go visit an alpaca at a local farm and just go to NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com, and you can find a farm near you.
So Steve, tell us more about—I understand that alpacas are considered a green animal.
STEVE PUTNEY: They are probably the greenest animal I have ever met in my entire life. We were talking about them grazing. In the front of their mouth, they don’t have teeth on the top. The bottom teeth mesh up to the gum. And when the alpaca bites that on the grass, it shakes its head just a little bit—it’s almost imperceptible—and actually cuts the grass off versus other animals that will grab it and tear it.
And so, the alpaca actually encourages pasture growth which is hard to find. It’s like having an organic lawn mower. It’s amazing.
So, it begins there. They are a modified [unintelligible 10:57]. They process the stuff they take in, and they get all of the nutrients they can possibly get out of it. And then, when you get down to what goes in must come out, the manure that they produce is actually not real high in ammonia. And it’s not what you would consider to be a hot manure. So, it can actually be put on plants and vegetables and stuff fresh without harming them in any way, shape or form. And it has slow release of the nitrogen and phosphorous and stuff that’s in it, so it lasts a long time when you put it on your plants.
Along with that as well—again, kind of unique for a livestock animal—they don’t have a hoof. They have a soft pad like a dog has and a nail. And that means that when it’s rainy and stuff, and they’re walking across the ground, they’re not digging in and tearing up the ground.
That’s the beginning of it. Then you start breaking down the fiber itself. It doesn’t have any lanolin in it. It has a natural resin that makes it water-resistant. But it’s hypoallergenic.
And so, when it’s time to do the scrubbing which they refer to—for example, if you have wool, it has to be scrubbed, it has to be cleaned before it’s processed and turned into something. With alpaca, they don’t have to use any kind of harsh cleaning agents, and you don’t have to send it to special facilities for the scrubbing.
And so, you can use a very normal, gentle wash to begin the process of processing it into yarn or thread that then becomes clothing that you can wear right against your skin.
DEBRA: I didn’t know that about alpacas. So is it called alpaca wool or alpaca fleece or alpaca hair?
STEVE PUTNEY: They refer to it as fiber.
DEBRA: Fiber, alpaca fiber, okay.
STEVE PUTNEY: Yes, they refer to it as fiber. And you can look at it as wool. It’s the same process, but it actually has more hair-like qualities than it does wool-type qualities.
DEBRA: So when you shear the alpaca, then you clean it, and then how do you process that into a yarn or a thread? What is that process? I’m trying to visualize what happens between the hair being on the alpaca, and then turning into something you can make something from.
STEVE PUTNEY: Let me walk you through the process. We begin with the shearing. And as I mentioned, you have three different cuts on the alpaca. So we’ll focus on the blanket because that’s the finest and that’s the stuff that you’re going to wear against your skin.
So, the blanket, if the blanket is taken off, and it’s put in a bag, most people weigh it. And then it goes on a skirting table. You pick out the [unintelligible 14:01] so that it’s clean. It goes into a gentle wash.
A lot of people who are doing this at home will use just a little bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid and do it in the sink because all you’re really trying to do is release the dirt because there is no oil or anything associated with the fleece.
It’s then dried, and it goes into a carter. And what a carter does is it lines up all the fibers in the same direction.
From there, if you’re doing it in a machine, which most people will, it goes in and it gets spun into what is referred to as a roving, which is a very, very loose, I guess you would call it “rope” of the alpaca fiber, but it’s then spun together, so that it adheres to itself.
And this is the same process that’s used for wool, for cotton, and anything like that.
DEBRA: It sounds very familiar like wool.
STEVE PUTNEY: And then, from there, it will go into either for hand spinners. They’re going to take that roving, and they’re going to do their hand spinning with it in a more commercial environment—the cottage industry, for example. They have small machines that they put it in. And depending upon what the end product you’re looking for, you’re going to have certain weights and things, the number of plies that you’re going to do, but it gets basically woven into a thin string. And then, that thin string is either doubled or tripled or quadrupled in order to make the weight of yarn that you’re looking for.
DEBRA: So, is this basically a cottage industry? There are not big industrial factories that are processing this, right?
STEVE PUTNEY: Here in the United States, no. It is most definitely a cottage industry. A lot of people that have alpacas, they have farm [stores]. We were talking about National Alpaca Farm Days. They have farm stores. So what they’ll do is they’ll take a portion, if not all of their fleece production, and they’ll turn that into yarn, roving, and some things like that.
And so, when people are going out for National Alpaca Farm Days, they actually have an opportunity to lay their hand on some of the end products, and feel the incredible softness of it, and in some cases, if they so chose, purchase those products as well.
DEBRA: It is incredibly soft. And we’re coming up on another break, so after the break, I’ll talk about my alpaca pillow, which I totally love, and how it’s different from a wool pillow.
My name is Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is Steve Putney from Safe Haven Alpaca Farm.
And we’re talking about alpacas and the National Alpaca Farm Days. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And today, we’re talking about alpacas because this weekend is National Alpaca Farm Days. And you can just go to NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com, and find an alpaca farm near you, and go visit the alpacas, which are very friendly animals. It’s a great thing for you to do as a family outing on a nice autumn day.
My guest today is Steve Putney from Safe Haven Alpaca Farm. And he’s at
I was going to talk about my alpaca pillow. My alpaca pillow is the best pillow I have ever slept on. And it is very different. I’ve slept on many natural fibers. And I know that my listeners are interested in pillows with natural fibers inside because we don’t want to be sleeping on polyester or polyurethane foam with fire retardant or any of those kinds of things.
And so, I’ve slept on a cotton pillow. I’ve slept on a feather pillow. I’ve slept on a buckwheat hull pillow. I’ve slept on a wool pillow, sheep wool pillow. And now, I’m sleeping on an alpaca pillow. And I’ve had my alpaca pillow for about a year now, and it’s still like the day I bought it. It’s still resilient and puffy. And I can just puff it up really easily, and it just goes right back to being this big, puffy pillow.
And so, that really shows me the difference between sheep wool and alpaca.
STEVE PUTNEY: Do you have a cover for it? Is it made out of alpaca as well?
DEBRA: No, I don’t. It’s cotton. It’s got a cotton cover.
STEVE PUTNEY: You need to get the alpaca cover because alpaca, when we were talking about the blanket, it is as soft as cashmere. It is incredibly soft to the feel. And so against your face and your neck and stuff, it has no itchiness, no scratchiness to it. It has an incredible feel. And so, you need to go to the next level now, Debra, and get the exterior part as well.
DEBRA: I guess I do! Well, I didn’t even know. Tell us about some different types of products that are made from alpaca because I didn’t know there was an alpaca pillow cover.
STEVE PUTNEY: There are, yes. They’re pretty much anything that is made from cotton, that’s made from wool, and any of the natural fibers that are out there. You can find alpaca everything from the stuff that you would expect to see, such as sweaters, hats, mittens, gloves, those types of things.
The industry is now producing fabric from alpaca as well, and so—
DEBRA: I didn’t know that.
STEVE PUTNEY: Yes, so there are pillow covers and there are shirts. I know there is, I believe, in Italy, someone that’s actually making suits from alpaca.
And so, pretty much any kind of product that you would expect to find from any other sort of natural fiber, even, unfortunately, polyester and things like that, you’re going to be able to find in alpaca as well.
Most of the products that you find out there now are being imported from Peru. Peru still has the most alpacas. And they also, at the same time, have the manufacturing infrastructure there. The cottage industry and some of the industries here in the United States is starting to make more things out of alpaca.
Pendleton Wools, which is known for their blankets and woolen products, they actually do a run of alpaca blankets every year. And so there are alpaca blankets that are being made out there that are American-made as well now.
DEBRA: I think you said earlier that people who are allergic to wool are not allergic to alpaca. Did I get that right?
STEVE PUTNEY: For the most part, the people that are allergic to the wool, their problem is they’re actually allergic to the lanolin that’s in the wool. And so since alpaca doesn’t have that lanolin, they don’t have any allergic reaction to it.
The other thing with alpaca versus wool, I should say, is wool has a little barb, a little hook at the end of it. That scratchy feeling that you have when you have wool against your skin, alpaca doesn’t have that. It’s a straight fiber. And so against your skin, it feels incredibly, incredibly soft against your skin. And so, you don’t have the itchiness, you don’t have the problems with allergies as well.
DEBRA: I’m thinking about this pillow case. I live here in Florida. And even though it’s hot all the time, even in the winter, but especially in the summer time, it’s hot and humid, but I sleep on cotton flannel—and I have cotton flannel pillow cases not because I need to keep warm, that’s why they do it in the north. But here, I find that cotton flannel is more absorptive. So it absorbs the perspiration better than just regular cotton sheets in the [inaudible 00:22:12].
So, how does alpaca stand up to that? Does it absorb moisture?
STEVE PUTNEY: What you’re talking about is referred to as wicking, and that’s the ability of a fabric to pull moisture from the body, and then allow air in to cool the body. Alpaca is exceptional at wicking. It has that ability to pull the moisture from your body.
Now, depending upon the weave of the garment, if you get a tightly-weaved garment, it’s not going to let a lot of air through. So as you are shopping, you want to be aware.
And there are different garments made for different times of the year. I wear alpaca socks all year long in the summer time and stuff to help keep my feet cool, and in the winter time, to help keep my feet warm. And so, as you’re shopping, you want to be aware that a garment that is tightly knitted together and thicker is going to be a warm weather garment, or something that is thinner and has a looser weave to it is going to have that natural wicking and actually help you keep cool.
DEBRA: Wow! This is all new to me. It’s time for another break. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And we’re talking about alpacas. My guest is Steve Putney from Safe Haven Alpaca Farm. And he is inviting you and your family to visit an alpaca this weekend with National Alpaca Farm Days. That’s NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com. And we’ll be right back with more about alpacas.
No, we won’t. We’re not going yet because I looked at the clock incorrectly. We still have another 45 seconds.
So, let’s see, what can we talk about for 45 seconds?
STEVE PUTNEY: For 45 seconds, we can tell everybody that if they go to the website, literally, coast to coast, border to border, there are farms near you that are participating. And if you go to that website, click “find a farm,” you can enter your zip code in it. It will bring you to a farm near you.
DEBRA: I’m on the website right now, and I’m clicking on “find a farm.” I’m going to enter my zip code, and see, 33755. Oh, you can also pick how many miles away you are. I have an alpaca farm just right near where I live. Wow! So now, I’m clicking on the little thing.
Oh, now, we’re going to break.
This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And we’ll be right back talking about alpacas.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And my guest today is Steve Putney from Safe Haven Alpaca Farm. That’s
And he’s here to talk about National Alpaca Farm Days. And that’s coming up this weekend. And you can go to their website, you can click on “find a farm” which I did, and over the break, I took a look at it.
I want to ask you a question, Steve, but I don’t know if you know the answer. But when I put in my zip code, it gave me a map, a Google Map, with a little indicator of where the farm was. But when I click on it, it didn’t tell me where the farm was. Is it supposed to?
STEVE PUTNEY: I’m sorry. Yes, it should have been hyperlinked to take you to the farm’s information, so that you know what hours they’re open, and if they have events and things like that going on. We’ll check on that and make sure it’s operating correctly.
DEBRA: Why don’t you check on it? It might be my computer didn’t do it, but I think that’s what’s supposed to be happening.
So you might check on that. But if some of our listeners go there, and it’s not working for them, I could locate my local alpaca farm because I could see on the map where it was. And then, I just typed in “alpaca farm” and the name of the city, and I got information about it.
And it turns out that there’s an actual alpaca farm less than four miles from where I live. And they’ll be open this weekend. And they not only have alpacas that I can go visit, but they have their own shop. I didn’t even know it was there. And even beyond Alpaca Farm Days, because I’m going to be out of town on Saturday, but I could maybe go on Sunday. Even beyond that, I could go to the store because they’ve got alpaca items that they make themselves. They have some that are imported from Peru. And they also are having classes in knitting, crocheting and felting—how to knit, crochet and felt alpaca—you told me what the word was.
STEVE PUTNEY: Fiber. Fiber is the magic word.
DEBRA: Fiber. Alpaca fiber. I’m really looking forward to those. I’m just so excited about alpacas.
So tell us what’s happening on your farm this weekend. If someone would come to your farm, what will they see?
STEVE PUTNEY: We’ve done National Alpaca Farm Days every year. And every year, we change it up a little bit. We always have free food here for people. We have a pretty good-sized store here on the property that’s open. So we’ve got just about anything you could possibly want in alpaca available.
In past years, people have come in and actually hand-carded and turned the alpaca into yarn in front of people’s eyes, which is amazing for me to watch. I can’t do that. I don’t know that I even want to try. So those people who do hand spinning, it’s amazing to watch.
We’ve had people here that have done knitting, and have done weaving, those types of things.
This year, we’re going to focus on doing felting. And we’re going to have actually the ability for people to come here, and do their own felting, and actually create something from felt if they choose to stay that long and do it.
We always have free food. Most of the farms have snacks and refreshments and stuff available. And it really is an opportunity for people to get out and not just find out about the animal, but the business associated with the animal, the industry, the products.
And then, what we’re doing this year here—which we partnered with a farm that’s very near us—we’re actually going to be taking our animals to the local tractor supply as well. And that’s an opportunity to take the animal to the people versus having the people come to an animal.
So, we’re looking forward to that as an opportunity to really, kind of a more urban-type setting versus the rural setting that most alpaca farms are in to bring the animal there and introduce people that wouldn’t normally be introduced to the animal, to the alpaca.
DEBRA: That sounds like so much fun. I just love going to farm days, and to the county fair, and to the state fair, and to historic sites that recreate how life was in the past and all those things because I think that there are so much that we still rely on our industrial products going to the store and buying things that I think that so many people have lost touch with where things come from out of nature.
I once knew somebody. I met him as an adult. And he didn’t know that bread was made from wheat. And I think that that’s not unusual. It shocked me, but I think that that’s not unusual. And I think that to be able to see the connection between the animal and the farm and the product that comes from that and be able to actually make something out of the fiber, and then have a product at the other end that you get to see from the animal in nature, to the product in your hand, and it’s all right there, I think everybody should have those kinds of experiences so that you have that connection with nature. You can see that something doesn’t need to come from a factory. It can come from your own hands and the materials at hand, literally.
It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing. And I’m glad that the alpaca farms are going to be open this weekend. It’s the greatest thing—
STEVE PUTNEY: There has been a huge resurgence in people that have taken up knitting, crocheting, spinning, those types of things. And it’s neat to see that happen because of the fact that there are all of these natural fibers out there. And a lot of the smaller mills, we were talking about the cottage industry, are starting to experiment with different types of blends.
The local mill near me has started blending alpaca with bamboo which makes an incredibly soft end product.
DEBRA: Talk about soft. That would be incredibly soft.
STEVE PUTNEY: Exactly! And the neat thing is that alpaca has the ability to, they’re refer to it as “bloom” around other things.
So if you’ve got a blend of alpaca at about 50% to 60%, and you’re using a different natural fiber for some reason for more strength or whatever your purpose is, when you wash it, the alpaca tends to bloom around, so you feel more of the alpaca and less of the other fiber.
And so, there’s a lot of neat stuff happening with alpaca. It’s just a very unique—you know, you were talking about your pillow, the fact that you had it for a year and it’s still fluffed up, and it still feels good. When archeologists were digging up in Peru, they found—well, I should explain it.
At one point, alpaca was reserved for royalty. They were the only ones that were allowed to wear it for the Incans. And when they have opened up some of these tombs, and they found this royalty, they were buried in alpaca, and the garments are still intact today. And so, it’s an incredibly durable fiber as well.
DEBRA: I’m on your page on your website where you’re selling socks, and I noticed that you have them for men and women and also diabetic socks. And diabetics, as I think a lot of people know, have a problem in their feet. They have a lot of pain because the circulation stops. So, if diabetics are wearing these socks, they’ve got to be really soft. This is just amazing.
STEVE PUTNEY: The best example—and hopefully, if people will go out and they visit a farm, other people will have this type of demonstration. I have a blend here of Merino, which is one of the softest wools that you can lay your hands on. It’s a 50/50 blend of Merino and alpaca that’s sitting there. And I have 100% alpaca. And I tell people, “Rub on either side of your cheek,” one being the alpaca, the other being the blend. “Tell me which is which.” And nobody ever guesses wrong. It is so much softer than what other natural fibers are. And it feels so good against the skin. It is truly an amazing natural product.
DEBRA: Why do you think that it hasn’t been known as much? I’ve been writing about natural products and fibers for more than 30 years. And I knew that alpaca existed, but I didn’t know all these qualities about it. Why is it becoming more popular and more known now and not before?
STEVE PUTNEY: It’s an education factor. It’s also the growth of the industry and the size of our natural herd. When you get a national herd at one point (that was basically 10,000 animals), you really weren’t producing enough end products to get anybody’s attention.
And so now, we’ve got enough farms. And we still need to grow a lot. I don’t want to make it sound like we’re there. We’re not.
We’re still very much a growing industry. But we’re starting to get the attention of some of the fashion designers and stuff are starting to include alpaca.
And so, we’ve gotten big enough now that we’re getting people’s attention. And there is practical application where, at one point, there wasn’t a consistent supply of the product, so it was hard for people to say, “I’m going to make a product from this every year.” Now, we can meet that demand.
DEBRA: Well, I am so happy that this is growing. And thank you so much for coming on today to tell us more about alpacas and to tell us about the National Alpaca Farm Days which, again, they’re coming up this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
And you can go to NationalAlpacaFarmDays.com, and find a farm, and go find out about those alpacas, and find out what your local alpaca farmers are doing, and meet an alpaca. It will be the best meet-an-animal experience you ever had.
I just love alpacas. They’re my favorite animal and they are so friendly and warm and just wonderful.
So, that’s it for today. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd.