Alpacas are social creatures, especially when they get around Deborah LaMountain, owner at Alpacas of the Morning Mist in Ruckersville. All 18 alpaca—nine guys and nine gals—rushed to the barn to see LaMountain one hot fall day. The guys start to strut, butting heads and almost hissing at each other as LaMountain grabs some sweet feed.
“If this is going to happen, no one will get any,” she tells the guys as she brings Sampson to the other pen for a hug. “You have to separate them, or you’ll have nonsense otherwise.”
It’s not often you get to hug livestock, but Alpacas with their soft fur are often willing.
The LaMountains moved to the area from Long Island when they retired in 2006.
“I’m an animal lover. We always had animals growing up—fish, dogs, cats, ferrets—we always had something,” she said. “We visited farms in the area and I said ‘yeah, I’d like to do this’.”
In walks Claudia, a much larger yet still similar, animal—a guard llama. If you’ve not heard of guard llamas, you’re not alone.
“The vet I bought her from in Luray said she comes from a line of guard llamas,” LaMountain said. “We we have babies she is the protection. If there’s anything that doesn’t belong in the corral, she will go after it.”
As large industrial fans blow to keep them cooler, the 10 chicken cluck and two roosters crow and the two barn cats stop by for a quick hello before they move on to their daily duties, as well. LaMountain said she gets about 10 eggs a day during the summer, which is too many of her and her husband to consume. She said she brings fresh eggs to her church in Madison County to donate to those in need.
“Farming is seven days a week, 365 days, but I come up here and just spend hours,” LaMountain said. “They’re there to get hugs from me. I can easily spend hours up here in the barn.”
LaMountain said alpaca are easier than horses, including the delivery of young ones. She said they basically deliver themselves, unlike other large animals.
The alpaca prefer orchard grass because it’s so much softer, which LaMountain orders from a place in Madison County. During the summer, they enjoy the grass outdoors.
In the spring, they all get sheered and LaMountain send the fiber to the Central Virginia Fiber Mill to be spun into yarn.
Their fiber is hypoallergenic because it does not contain lanoline like sheep’s wool.
“I don’t do the spinning into yarn myself; I’m not good at that. But I do take the yarn and knit or crochet,” LaMountain said.
LaMountain sells her alpacas, as well as the fiber and compost.
“I wish I could do more,” she said. “I would especially love rescuing animals. I love being here. When I’m up at the barn I’m in heaven.”
For more information, call the LaMountains at (434) 985-8408.