How We Got Started
We fell in love with alpacas in 2003 and started our herd in 2004. Now we have over 40 animals with great pedigrees, many super fleeces, and several ribbon winners. Breeding and growing the herd has been rewarding and a lot of fun. However, we know that the real product is the fleece/fiber.
Like many breeders we have lots of fleece stored around our property. Wanting to add value to our fleece we became frustrated trying to determine the process, providers, outlets, and ultimate product creation that we can successfully market. I was also frustrated on what to do with ALL my fiber. Not just the 30-40% that is blanket. That frustration became our mission of “No Fiber Left Behind”. We started offering processing services in the summer or 2011 after a year of due diligence, visiting manufacturers and other mills, research, and even taking the Community Mill course at Gaston College in Charlotte NC.
The Journey Begins
…selecting processing equipment, that is.
Our criteria for selecting fiber processing equipment centered on:
- The ability to handle a wide array of natural fibers like alpaca, sheep wools, llama etc.
- Wanting equipment that had large enough capacity to be able to return your processed fleece quickly but also small enough so we don’t have to exclude a lot of cottage breeders by requiring 10 pound minimums, and
- We really want to buy equipment made in the USA.
We purchased a 32 inch carder and picker from Stonehedge Fiber Processing equipment, made in Michigan. What I really liked about this equipment is it’s productivity, ruggedness, efficiency, how well it gently cared for and cleaned the fleece which ultimately means better results for you. For example, the Stonehedge design removes a lot of veggie matter but also a lot of guard or primary fibers. I immediately saw this value versus the dehairing processes which can have up to 50% losses to accomplish the same effect. That means quality fiber returned to you. And just as important, MORE processed fiber returned to make product.
We initially rented time on a local 66 inch Feltloom® Machine and installed our machine in February 2012 allowing a more consistent production schedule and product development
The possibilities and potential for non-woven products are only limited by your imagination. Almost all fiber can be used in needle felting. Let us show you how the 2nds and 3rds that comprise anywhere from 50 to 70% of our yearly harvest can provide income instead of stored or thrown away fleece. The Needle felting service aligns with our “no fiber left behind” mantra.