Brenda Crum is being called the alpaca whisperer. She looks over more than 200 alpacas at the Golden Spirit Alpaca Ranch in Odessa.
“Most people do say, ‘What is an alpaca?’” Crum said. “It’s a common question. They are from the camel family.” The animals are also related to llamas. “They are a docile, gentle animal,” Crum said. “Their spirit is so sweet.” The ranch offers tours where you can get up close and personal with alpaca. “It has the name of a tour, but it’s really an experience, because you learn about the alpaca,” Crum said. “You get to touch them, learn about their personalities and have a little close-up photo-op, which is real fun for people.”
There are numerous alpaca fiber products. Each year we shear and the fiber falls to the floor waiting to evolve into something to wear or use. Alpaca fiber is know for it’s luxury feel and durability. Turning the fiber into end product is a fun part of working with alpaca because each of our beautiful creatures has unique fiber qualities. Venus, Vera, Lady Gaga and Trifecta are different color alpaca, so when they are shorn I look at the color and length of fiber to decide if it should be dyed, prepared for spinning or roving and what a buyer like yourself might want to do with that fiber. Vanilla, Cleopatra and Ledgend are also different colors but their fiber is more useful for certain products because of the color.
Steps to the end product
Scarves, sweaters, rugs, yarn and roving become items that we can sell in our boutique because of the next steps. Once an animal is shorn and the fiber is placed in a bag and each one of the animals fiber is looked at individually. Because alpaca like to graze and find all of the weeds, branches and leaves, their fiber picks up debris. I remove from the fiber while we are deciding what colors and grade (ie, quality) of fiber will be put together. Those beginning stages of processing are important to be sure that the person who receives the product is happy. From there the fiber might be prepared in many ways depending on the beautiful creation that will result. Washing, dying, carding, spinning are a few examples of steps of the process. These steps can be completed at Golden Spirit or the fiber might be sent to a mill for processing into end product.
When you visit the Ranch
If you are taking a tour we spend time talking about how we remove the fiber from the animal and what we do to reach the end product. You can visit our EveryWear Alpaca Boutique for shopping and will see alpaca fiber products that are a result of raising alpaca with fiber that will be turned into items to wear and use.