Visit on Sunday
• What: National Alpaca Farm Days
• When: 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday
• Where: Thunder River Suri Alpacas, 7830 Thunder River Way
• Cost: Free
• Contact: Visit www.thunderriveralpacas.com or call (717) 994-4055
Rose Moffett and husband Dennis Watts wanted a unique hobby they could transition into a post-retirement business.
After doing some research, they decided on something definitely different — alpacas.
“We both like the outdoors, and alpaca farming was something we could continue to do after retirement,” Moffett said.
About four years ago they relocated from Alpharetta to a 5-acre property in northwestern Forsyth County and started raising alpacas.
The animals are part of the camel family, which also includes their larger cousin the llama. They hail from South America, but also do well in the warm, humid conditions of the Southern U.S.
Moffett and Watts will open the farm, Thunder River Suri Alpacas, to the general public from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday for tours and other activities.
The free event is part of the Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association’s National Alpaca Farm Days, which is held one weekend each year. It encourages farm owners to teach the public about the alpaca.
“We enjoy the alpacas so much, we’d like for others to enjoy them also,” said Moffett, noting this is the first year Thunder River will take part in the event.
Moffett said besides tours, attendees can enjoy refreshments, coloring books for children and felting demonstrations.
Felting is a process that uses alpaca fleece to create scarves and hats. Moffett also makes felted soaps, which are bars covered in alpaca fleece.
She explained that people use the entire bar like a wash cloth.
“It feels kind of like a loofah,” she said. “It’s good for exfoliating.”
Thunder River also offers a small shop where patrons can purchase a number of alpaca-related items, including yarn, throws, scarves and socks.
There are even teddy bears made from the soft, silky material.
The Thunder River alpacas are sheered about once a year, with the fleece used in several items in the farm’s store. Other items are shipped in from Peru.
Moffett said her alpacas are the Suri breed, which grow long, straight hair. There’s also the Huacaya type, which have a fluffy appearance.
“Most people in the U.S. have the Huacaya kind, they make up about 85 percent of the alpacas here,” Moffett said.
Beside the fleece, the couple breeds their animals, selling the offspring to other farmers.
Currently, the farm is home to a one-week old baby alpaca, which Moffett is calling Squeaker, and some other mothers are due soon.
“It’s so exciting to have babies around,” she said.
Moffett said the herd is made up of about 25 alpacas.
She’s hopes many people will come out Sunday to learn more about the animal.
“They’re such smart and gentle little creatures, we fell in love with them and we think a lot of other people will too.”