Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Touching the money fur in Prince Edward Island

Hanging with a herd of alpacas in Canada’s smallest province.

Janet Ogilvie shows off Shilo, one of her female alpacas.
Janet Ogilvie shows off Shilo, one of her female alpacas.
View from the snout cam.

Grass and girls. That was what life was all about, at least viewed through the black, bulby eyes of Keswick, a seven-year-old alpaca. His muppet-like neck bobbing in front of my wife and me, Keswick noisily nibbled at pasture in the flatlands of western Prince Edward Island.

“He loves the ladies,” said Janet Ogilvie, owner of Green Gable Alpacas, as Keswick stole glances at the females through the fence.

After we’d strolled along Prince Edward Island’s renowned Martian-red beaches and overdosed on the island’s bountiful seafood – including silky oysters and surprisingly inexpensive lobster (a dinner for two featuring two tender lobsters starts at CAD $22) – the owners of our bed & breakfast in the city of Summerside had told us of a nearby ranch that would introduce us to the island’s agricultural side. We now found ourselves surrounded by Ogilvie’s herd of thirty-eight alpacas.

Alpacas and PEI: it’s the fleece

Why bring a camelid species native to the Andean highlands to a flat Canadian island? One stroke of Keswick’s neck made it clear to me: the fleece. Alpaca fleece is fine and soft without sacrificing strength, and provides warmth without itchiness.

Alpaca fleece ranges from pearly white to dark brown.

Ogilvie led us to the building where she sorts the fleece by color and quality. Swirls of fleece – from pearly white to Chewbacca brown to dark chocolate – poked from the openings of giant plastic bags. She handed us a length of Keswick’s chestnut blonde fleece and remarked, “If this was a sheep fleece, it would stink and you would not put your hands in it because it would be very greasy.”

Any natural fiber less than thirty microns in diameter is acceptable for clothing. The thinner the fiber, the more luxurious it feels. Keswick’s fibers measured in at 16.4 microns. “If you have an animal less than twenty microns, you’re like, ‘Woohoo! Yippee!’” she chirped. The average adult human hair is 75 to 150 microns, which is why you don’t see people eagerly cutting off their ponytails to make scarves.

Three-week-old Jordi is curious to meet visitors.

The herd

Ogilvie guided us into the female’s paddock where she activated her secret alpaca magnet: the garden hose. “C’mon girls!” she yelled as she sprayed an arcing jet of water. Immediately, several alpacas moseyed toward her. “The water helps them cool off,” she said. Hemmed in by fur and snout, I became fascinated by the variety of personalities among the herd. One female, Margrite, stood right in front of Ogilvie. “Margrite hates people, but she’ll come right up to you if you have the hose.” Another alpaca, Shilo, whose unshorn head bestowed her with a spiky hairdo worthy of Invincible-era Pat Benatar, approached and nudged my wife and me with tender curiosity, even though we were pitifully hoseless.

The boys, posing pensively in their own paddock, seemed content, all wearing the species’ built-in grin. Despite having such charming names as Klondike, Hawthorne, and Kahlua, they reserve visceral venom for one another. “They push to get the other on the ground. They’re actually trying to bite at one another’s testicles,” Ogilvie said. At two years old, alpaca males grow short, sharp teeth. “They’re called fighting teeth for a reason. We cut them off. The boys can emasculate one another.”

There would be more alpaca skirmishes if it weren’t for Grizwald, the ranch’s only llama, who has a foot of height over the boys. He only has to stick his thick neck between fighters to break up a rumble. “He’s the bouncer,” Ogilvie said. In addition to serving as the protector of camelid family jewels, Grizwald is quite the apple aficionado. Ogilvie encouraged me to feed him a slice. I barely felt the gentle probing of his lips as he plucked the slice from my palm.

The farm

Under the wooden ceiling of what used to be a milking room in the farm’s past life, Ogilvie sells scarves, hats, and slippers that she and her mother have knitted. Just as fair trade coffee and chocolate companies personalize packaging with the picture of the farmer who grew the crop, Ogilvie wraps each bundle of alpaca yarn in a label emblazoned with the mugshot of the originating animal.

The Green Gable alpacas keep the snout cam busy.

My wife left with a piece of the island around her neck: a buttery-soft scarf of yarn spun from Keswick’s fleece. It’s the same fleece that scores him date after date with females brought in from nearby ranches whose owners pay for a shot at that money fur.

I realized that the world of alpaca farming is refreshingly egalitarian – even the boys are judged by their hair.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

How they pry Marines out of downtown Oceanside

Darrius Pope cut hair 10 am to 8 pm in Pendleton barracks
Next Article

Oceanside Democrats feud over membership

Club stacking just part of growing pains?
Janet Ogilvie shows off Shilo, one of her female alpacas.
Janet Ogilvie shows off Shilo, one of her female alpacas.
View from the snout cam.

Grass and girls. That was what life was all about, at least viewed through the black, bulby eyes of Keswick, a seven-year-old alpaca. His muppet-like neck bobbing in front of my wife and me, Keswick noisily nibbled at pasture in the flatlands of western Prince Edward Island.

“He loves the ladies,” said Janet Ogilvie, owner of Green Gable Alpacas, as Keswick stole glances at the females through the fence.

After we’d strolled along Prince Edward Island’s renowned Martian-red beaches and overdosed on the island’s bountiful seafood – including silky oysters and surprisingly inexpensive lobster (a dinner for two featuring two tender lobsters starts at CAD $22) – the owners of our bed & breakfast in the city of Summerside had told us of a nearby ranch that would introduce us to the island’s agricultural side. We now found ourselves surrounded by Ogilvie’s herd of thirty-eight alpacas.

Alpacas and PEI: it’s the fleece

Why bring a camelid species native to the Andean highlands to a flat Canadian island? One stroke of Keswick’s neck made it clear to me: the fleece. Alpaca fleece is fine and soft without sacrificing strength, and provides warmth without itchiness.

Alpaca fleece ranges from pearly white to dark brown.

Ogilvie led us to the building where she sorts the fleece by color and quality. Swirls of fleece – from pearly white to Chewbacca brown to dark chocolate – poked from the openings of giant plastic bags. She handed us a length of Keswick’s chestnut blonde fleece and remarked, “If this was a sheep fleece, it would stink and you would not put your hands in it because it would be very greasy.”

Any natural fiber less than thirty microns in diameter is acceptable for clothing. The thinner the fiber, the more luxurious it feels. Keswick’s fibers measured in at 16.4 microns. “If you have an animal less than twenty microns, you’re like, ‘Woohoo! Yippee!’” she chirped. The average adult human hair is 75 to 150 microns, which is why you don’t see people eagerly cutting off their ponytails to make scarves.

Three-week-old Jordi is curious to meet visitors.

The herd

Ogilvie guided us into the female’s paddock where she activated her secret alpaca magnet: the garden hose. “C’mon girls!” she yelled as she sprayed an arcing jet of water. Immediately, several alpacas moseyed toward her. “The water helps them cool off,” she said. Hemmed in by fur and snout, I became fascinated by the variety of personalities among the herd. One female, Margrite, stood right in front of Ogilvie. “Margrite hates people, but she’ll come right up to you if you have the hose.” Another alpaca, Shilo, whose unshorn head bestowed her with a spiky hairdo worthy of Invincible-era Pat Benatar, approached and nudged my wife and me with tender curiosity, even though we were pitifully hoseless.

The boys, posing pensively in their own paddock, seemed content, all wearing the species’ built-in grin. Despite having such charming names as Klondike, Hawthorne, and Kahlua, they reserve visceral venom for one another. “They push to get the other on the ground. They’re actually trying to bite at one another’s testicles,” Ogilvie said. At two years old, alpaca males grow short, sharp teeth. “They’re called fighting teeth for a reason. We cut them off. The boys can emasculate one another.”

There would be more alpaca skirmishes if it weren’t for Grizwald, the ranch’s only llama, who has a foot of height over the boys. He only has to stick his thick neck between fighters to break up a rumble. “He’s the bouncer,” Ogilvie said. In addition to serving as the protector of camelid family jewels, Grizwald is quite the apple aficionado. Ogilvie encouraged me to feed him a slice. I barely felt the gentle probing of his lips as he plucked the slice from my palm.

The farm

Under the wooden ceiling of what used to be a milking room in the farm’s past life, Ogilvie sells scarves, hats, and slippers that she and her mother have knitted. Just as fair trade coffee and chocolate companies personalize packaging with the picture of the farmer who grew the crop, Ogilvie wraps each bundle of alpaca yarn in a label emblazoned with the mugshot of the originating animal.

The Green Gable alpacas keep the snout cam busy.

My wife left with a piece of the island around her neck: a buttery-soft scarf of yarn spun from Keswick’s fleece. It’s the same fleece that scores him date after date with females brought in from nearby ranches whose owners pay for a shot at that money fur.

I realized that the world of alpaca farming is refreshingly egalitarian – even the boys are judged by their hair.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego's punk music, goodbye to Lennon

Reader writers tell favorite music
Next Article

How they pry Marines out of downtown Oceanside

Darrius Pope cut hair 10 am to 8 pm in Pendleton barracks
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close