Bush Garden Alpacas n Merinos Farm Field Trip Nov. 9, 2007

We've been blessed with another glorious afternoon for our field trip to Bush Garden Alpacas and Merinos Farm in Terrebonne, OR. Our COOL friend, Michelle Sutton was kind enough to pick us up from home and met up with three other families over Target's back parking lot. There were us, The Suttons, The Shields, The Burys, and The Simpsons. From there, we swapped kids and carpooled in two vans. It worked out perfectly. The kids enjoyed the special arrangements too.

When we got to the farm, other COOL families--Annie, Jenn M., and Tabitha (a family we met for the first time)--were already there. Jenn said they had some excitement prior to our arrival. Apparently, one of the farm dogs brought back a cow leg from somewhere--Yike!

I have met the owner's daughter-in-law Chris a month ago and served at a March of Dimes' local fundraiser together. A week later, I met Maryanne over exchange of emails about fibers and blends. It's nice to be able to put a face to the name.

The well-guided tour was awesome, fun, engaging, welcoming, and homey. There are at least two sub-breeds of alpacas, Huacayas and Suris. Huacayas have dense, fluffy fiber, like a teddy bear. The rarer Suri alpaca has long, silky locks that hang down like an Afghan dog.

The kids had a blast feeding the male alpacas with hays and pet them first, then the females with cut-up apples from the farm tree. We were told the males were more friendlier than the females. However, I couldn't tell the difference as they were equally approachable. There were no kicking; no injured, screaming kids.

Out of the owner's preference, the alpacas have full covered facial fibers. They were soft and cute--make you want to curl up and cuddle! Later, we got to experience their end products--in roving and yarn inside her home.

Once inside the gift shop in the house, we were encouraged to feel batches of rovings, try her commerical-type drum carder, touch alpaca and wool samples, see how a swift works (which I have at home for my skeins), and watch Maryanne patiently demonstrate wheel spinning. As an homeschooled mom herself from years past, Maryanne was very thorough in her demonstrations, pleasant, warm, kind, inviting, and especially at ease with the kids.

We had some time to browse around. There were many handmade, handsome gift items as well as felted kits for sale. I love the felted hat made by her friend with her alpaca fiber--though delicate, the alpaca did hold its shape. Someday, I may give it a try. Hmmm...a alpaca hat. Who would wear it? The vibrant felted petals were attractive too. I'll definitely try to make some to embellish felted bags I made or will make.

Althought the tour was free, I was thrilled to see every family bought little something to bring home either for group project or personal holiday gifts for families. We appreciate Maryanne's generosity in accommodating our group, showing us her pride and joy--Alpacas and Rams, and her thoroughness in guiding us through her farm and operation. We will definitely return for more visits and bring our out-of-town guests.

With so many COOL famillies missing the tour--The Biskups, The Vargas, Megh and Lis, The Hughes, The Rogers, and The Walterscheids--I'll most likely schedule another tour in the future if people are interested. There was so much to absorb in a two-hour tour; I could hardly remember most of the alpacas named. Our kids and I won't mind visiting again.

I took over 180 pictures. If you are viewing the blog from an older computer, you may view the slide directly here.

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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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