This is a conversation that has been going on longer than the two years we have been in the business. The future is fiber. The industry can't sustain the seed stock model that lured many of us into the business in the first place. However, at a recent show, I heard many breeders talk about the "bags and bags" of fiber that they have in storage with no idea what to do with it.
The Spring brings two things to alpaca farms-shearing and crias. Both of these things should bring out a farm's emphasis on fiber and how their breeding program is holding up. With the older animals, you can begin to assess how their fleece is maintaining with age. The cria that land can help you access if you are improving the quality of your herd. Fiber should be the focus.
My parents raised award winning show dogs and I was a professional handler. So, the show and seed stock model is VERY familiar to me. I was drawn to the alpaca business because I knew my past would help us be successful in the future. I won't lie. I don't know a lot about fiber (off the animal) and I am not the craftiest person on the earth. We do strive for superior fiber in our animals and have a herd of very low micron animals. So, I guess it's about time I learn.
I have been inspired by some of the other alpaca blogs and websites I have been visiting. The picture below is felted soap from Seldom Scene Farm. Isn't it beautiful! It is like a built in loofa
Another interesting concept is starting a fiber cooperative or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model. Fancy Fiber has a neat structure. Is it viable? I'm not sure, but the concept is cool.
I am thankful for all of the interesting things other farms are doing with their fiber. I am still a newbie in this world, but I am excited to turn our ENTIRE venture into a profitable business. It all starts with the fiber...