Alpacas of Newfoundland
The Port Au Port peninsula is only a half hour drive from Stephenville in South Western Newfoundland. It’s worth a weekend trip in and of itself if you are on the west coast for any amount of time. You can stay at the Inn On the Cape at Cape St. George, check out the numerous trails, take in the stunning cliff side views and hang out on one of the few sandy beaches in Newfoundland at the Piccadilly campground. If you need a point of reference, it takes about an hour start to finish to drive around the peninsula.
In Felix Cove, one of the first of many small cove towns throughout, there is an alpaca farm simply named, “Alpacas of Newfoundland”. Owners Cathy and Ed are actually in the market to sell the farm and craft store, although I am unsure what the sale price is.
I had a chance to catch up with Ed in the gift shop recently and he told me some really interesting facts about alpaca wool. They have sixteen alpacas on their farm and one llama. Each one was born in the cove from the original five they brought form BC in 1998. The youngest one is five and the oldest sixteen (or so). Each year they shear the animals and get 13-15lbs of wool from each, that’s an approximation since Ed told me it’s really hard to tell how much, it depends on a lot: like how dirty they are at shearing time and the quality and cut etc. “That might not sound like a lot, but their wool is more like human hair, it’s very light and hollow in the middle,” Ed told me. The result is a product that feels closure to angora than wool.
Although the store sells plenty of alpaca and llama products from Peru, there are socks and some mitts and hats for sale from the local animals. Ed informed me that they are all knit in the area between fifteen ladies who machine and hand knit their wears. Alpaca might be softer and lighter weight than sheep’s wool, but it’s four times warmer and wicks moisture from the skin so you don’t get sweaty feet on cold days.
The alpaca farm is open to the public daily from 10AM to 6PM during the high season starting Victoria Day long weekend until Labor Day, but you can always call in the off season and drop in. They sell feed for the alpacas in the store for $1 a bag and the gentle animals will take it right from your hand in their large grazing fields that overlook stunning views of the North Atlantic. It’s postcard level gorgeous and definitely worth the drive.