Some folks, such as friends and family who live in more populated areas, tell us we lead “an exciting life.” We think they’re saying that tongue in cheek or could it be they envy us?
YES, weekend events are different in rural areas. WHERE else could we celebrate a bridge anniversary one day and visit an alpaca farm — all in two days ?
Are we having fun yet? Actually, yes.
Take Sunday, when we visited one of Virginia’s 108 registered alpaca breeders, By the Bay Alpacas farm (Pungoteague, VA) which held an open house. This event was for National Alpaca Farm Days held annually on the last weekend in Sept when alpaca farms across the U.S. invite visitors. The event is sponsored by the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association — and it’s FREE.
The farm is about a 20-minute drive from our home along back roads; even without much fall color here, it was a beautiful fall afternoon to be out. Lots of other folks though so too as there was a small crowd visiting with us.
The farm is owned and operated by Tara and Andrew who said the gentle nature of alpacas and the fact that they are easier to raise than most other livestock attracted them. Alpacas are suited for small or semi-rural farming and require little land for their upkeep. From 4 to 8 alpacas can be raised on an acre of pasture and because of their padded feet are easy on the land. Their diet consists of grass and leafy hay . They do not need fancy barns, are rarely sick, and don’t challenge fences. The fencing at the farm we visited was mainly to keep other animals out. An added benefit is the mild climate provided on the Virginia Eastern Shore.
We met Nandua, Sam and Bristol, a 2-year old male (top left) who has won several national championships in halter and fleece classes.
Alpacas are native to the South American altiplano, the high plain including parts of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. They were domesticated from vicuñas thousands of years ago by the native Quechua population; their fiber was prized by the Incan rulers. Alpacas were first exported from South America to the U.S. for farming use in 1984. In 1998, the Alpaca Registry Inc. (ARI) voted to close the ARI registry to further imports. All ARI-registered alpacas descend from stock registered prior to the closure.
They are fiber-producing animals that annually can produce 5 to 10 lbs. of fiber which is removed by shearing; the alpacas are unharmed by this process. After minor preparation, the alpaca fiber is ready to be spun into soft, warm yarn or to be used in other fiber crafts such as felting — this hat was spun from alpaca fiber and worn by a willing model (guess who).
On Saturday we celebrated an anniversary, not just ANY one, but the 50th anniversary celebration for the Assateague Bridge that links Chincoteague, VA to
Assateague Island, which is also home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The celebration, Bridging the Past and the Future, was sponsored by the Chincoteague Kiwanis Club to commemorate the original 1962 bridge opening. The concrete bridge shown here replaced that structure, a used bridge purchased from NJ, delivered section by section and installed across the channel. It was replaced because it had started to deteriorate. The celebration began with a short parade across the bridge . . .
Then talks by local officials followed by a ceremonial ribbon cutting. The gentleman in the center below is our neighbor, George, who is the sole surviving member of the original bridge authority.
Festivities went into full gear at the NWR and included special displays, activities for kids of all ages, hot dogs and ice cream, also FREE and Grenville really likes hot dogs (just ask him).That’s HOW we spent an exciting weekend — and YOU ?