T he alpacas of Ryder Road Farm will greet guests this weekend as fiber producers throughout Washington County open their doors and invite guests onto their farms as part of the 20th annual Fiber Tour.
“We’ll be showing guests what alpacas are all about in terms of fiber,” said Bonnie Graves, who owns Ryder Road Farm with her husband Marty.
Thirteen farms across the county will participate in this year’s tour, held April 28 and 29, and visitors will have the opportunity to meet a whole menagerie of animals, including rabbits, goats, sheep, llamas and more.
At many of those farms there will be demonstrations of spinning, knitting, weaving, and felting.
“Guests will able to see the alpacas and we’ll have someone hand-spinning fiber for several hours on Sunday,” Graves said.
She and her husband will also be available to answer questions about raising alpacas and will dole out advice to guests who may be considering getting a few animals of their own.
Graves started raising alpacas three years ago and has participated in the fiber tour ever since.
She said the tour is an excellent opportunity for the area’s fiber producers to receive a little exposure and for residents to learn more about the different fiber producing animals.
The farm currently has 21 animals, including three cria, which are alpaca babies. They also have goats, which are popular among children.
“The kids love to see them and we have cookies they can feed them,” Graves said.
The farm will also have a variety of items available to purchase including socks, yarn, stuffed animals, sweaters, puppets and other craft items.
The farm is located at 3 Ryder Road Farm just off Route 4. For more information or to contact the farm, call 499-9090.
Just a short drive down Route 4, AREA Cria-tions Alpaca Farm on North Road in Fort Ann plans to have a number of activities planned including a kid-friendly alpaca course.
The farm, which was started in 2006, has grown to include a herd of 22 animals.
In Granville, Diane and Phil Weaver of Parkland Alpaca Farm will host a number of activities, including consultations on alpaca ownership and husbandry, fiber sorting and grading demonstrations, and skirting demonstrations.
Herb and Faith Perkins, owners of Quarry Ridge Alpacas in Salem, will also be open and the farm offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, including the Green Mountains to the east.
Throughout the weekend there will be demonstrations of spinning and dyeing and the farms’ Anatolian shepherd dogs will keep a close eye on the herd.
Llamas and alpacas aren’t the only animals featured during the fiber tour. There will also be sheep, which the tour was founded upon two decades ago.
Ensign Brook Farm in Greenwich will show off its flock, and on Saturday will feature shearing, hands-on skirting, and fiber demonstrations.
And for those who prefer their animals a little smaller, Fiber Kingdom in Salem will show off its Angora rabbits and will have a number of demonstrations throughout the weekend.
Other farms participating in this year’s tour include Breezy Hill Farm in West Hebron, Alpacas of Haven Hill in Greenwich, Battenkill Fibers Carding and Spinning Mill in Greenwich, Big Red Alpacas in Cambridge, Elihu Farm in Easton, Hartshorn Ridge Farm in Greenwich, and Moments in Time Creations Farm in Salem.
Most farms are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, although the exact time of activities varies.
A map showing the locations of each farm, and more detailed information is available online at www.washingtoncountyfibertour.org.