We felt like the luckiest ShoreBread team for having come across the Nuevo Mundo Alpaco Farm in Selbyville, DE. To be invited out for the tour was an even bigger treat! Upon arrival, you begin to question your GPS because you’ve arrived at the loveliest home. Then, you make your way down the driveway to an open pasture complete with beautiful alpaca, twenty in total. The farm, which is owned and operated by Elizabeth Ferguson and husband, Jose Palma, has been in operation for two years. Having spent most of their lives in metropolitan areas and having worked in completely different fields, operating their alpaca farm is truly a learning experience for both Ferguson and Palma.
One of the major selling points when considering this new adventure was just how low maintenance alpacas really are. They walk lightly, which means there is minimal damage to the land that they roam. They are not a noisy animal, which provides a very peaceful environment if neighbors are close by. Additionally, alpaca will simply clip the grass that they eat vs. pulling the grass out of the ground by its root.
Did you know that alpaca are actually judged for their fabulous fiber? Yes, it’s true! Categories for judging include the brightness of their fiber, the density of their fiber and the crimp to their fiber. The more crimp a fiber has, the more valuable it is considered because a good crimp will produce a yarn that holds together well. Elizabeth explained that as an alpaca farmer, you want your herd to be judged because that is how you build your reputation for a quality product and a good stock of animals. The yarns and products that we were invited to hold were soft as silk. Another bonus is that the yarn produced by an alpaca is hypo-allergenic. Winning!
The alpaca are sheered once a year, usually around April, so that the animals will have light coats during the summer months and heavier coats during the winter. The fibers are then sent to a mill to be transformed into knitting yarn and rug yarn. Once that process is complete, the yarn is shipped back to the farm where the fun begins! In their production room, Elizabeth is knitting and looming scarves, ponchos, shawls, rugs and more. They even sell their alpaca yarn for DIY-ers who wish create their own. Currently, their one-of-a-kind alpaca products can be purchased at the Ocean Pines Farmers Market each Saturday and on the farm website.
Did you know that alpaca fibers come in 22 official colors? Not to say that one alpaca is more valuable than the other, but the fiber of a white alpaca can be easily dyed to the desired color. Elizabeth shared with us that learning how to hand-dye their yarn will be her next adventure! The Nuevo Mundo Alpaca Farm is small but mighty and continues to grow. Next time you’re at the farmers market, be sure to visit their tent to learn more about their awesome products and services. You’ll be so glad that you did!