Get to Know Your Neighborhood Alpacas
Look an alpaca square in the eye and you will see what looks like a little puffball face that always seems to be smiling.
There’s a touch of camel in their profiles. That’s because alpacas are all part of the camelid family.
The Four Acres Living in Frankford, DE actually consists of 15 acres and is home to 40 alpacas. Liz Ferguson and her husband Jose Palma own the farm which opened in 2015. The motivation? They love alpacas! Theirs is a working farm that raises alpacas for the quality and softness of their fiber. The farm also offers visitors an opportunity to get to meet the animals, learn how they are cared for, and a host of other information via tours and alpaca walks.
Four Acres Living offers the Tours and Alpaca Walks every week Friday-Sunday. Visitors learn a lot about alpacas and the contributions they make. Tours are entirely indoors in the farm’s large, new barn so it lends itself to a rainy-day activity. Alpaca Walks are outdoors and take place even during light rain or snow.
The farm also has a boutique that offers items sourced from their animals, wonderful alpaca socks and other great items.
“Alpacas are herd animals,” says Elaine Heinlein, spokesperson for the farm. While they will usually be in proximity of each other they will poke at one another occasionally and give other a little ‘what for’. There are a few you will always find together, she noted that Montana follows Sonic Fox around like he is his shadow. She says there is a wide range of personalities, and each are endlessly fascinating.
All the farm’s alpacas have a name and are registered with the Alpaca Owners Association. Some of the names are Vintage Jewel, Covert Affair, Kit Starter and Jasper, to name a few. Heinlein admits that the staff at Four Acres Living all secretly have favorites and are always happy to share the story. Liz’s favorite is Mystery Man! “You can usually count on him have a clump of hay in his mouth or sticking his foot in the water bucket! Most of our guest find a favorite too,” said Heinlein.
Sometimes alpacas are mistaken for llamas, but they are very different. An alpaca’s average weight is 150 pounds while a llama’s average weight is 400 pounds. Also, llama’s fiber is not as soft and usually used for upholstery items in lieu of clothing.
According to the Farm’s website, Ferguson and Palma purposefully maintain a moderate herd size to get to know each animal individually and provide care based on each animal’s specific needs. “Our alpacas are fed the best feed and hay available. Pastures are maintained for optimal health and cleanliness. And veterinary care, when needed, is never skimped on,” they say.
If you ever thought of purchasing alpacas but are new to them, Ferguson and Palma can, and will, help with a list of supplies and resources to get you started. Why? They LOVE alpacas.