She also mentioned two who had recent birthdays: “We got that beautiful young lady sitting back yonder, she’s 96 yesterday, isn’t that something? Alexander (Delk) is sitting back there — he’s 91 and he said last night, ‘If you hadn’t called I would’ve forgot.’”
Delk gave the opening prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
For devotion, Bostic read Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” and Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Bostic introduced Peter Goodwin, owner of a local alpaca farm. Peter began his talk with “I’ll tell you a little about myself first and how I ended up in Cleveland. I’m originally from Pennsylvania and I was working in Atlanta, Ga.” That was where he met his wife, Susan, who is from Cleveland. He and his wife sold their business in Atlanta and came up to Cleveland and bought a home on North Lee Highway.
The property has about 6 acres in the back, so they fenced it all in and named the whole property after their dog, Foster.
Since “it was all out there and it wasn’t being used,” they came up with the idea of getting into the alpaca business. After asking the group, “What’s an alpaca?” Goodwin informed them they’re from the camelid family, which comes from South America. “Actually llamas, alpacas and vicunas all live in the Andean mountains at about 10,000 feet,” he explained.
The alpacas were domesticated by the Inca Indians about 6,000 years ago predominately for fiber source and also for meat. They think camels in the Middle East are descendents of alpacas and llamas.
He said they migrated north and across the Bering Sea over into Asia and spread out to the Middle East. He said alpacas weigh around 150 pounds and are extremely gentle. Their defense mechanism, he said, is that they have large eyeballs and can see well and they have only bottom teeth and when they graze in the field they don’t pull the grass out like some other animals do, ruining the pasture — they just nip the grass.
Goodwin said their fiber is about a foot long and they appear to be giant, fluffy little animals. After they shear them, the fur needs to be carded to make it straight and it’s turned into a product called roving. He passed around some samples of roving for everyone to see and hold and explained that people take this roving and spin it and make their own yarn out of it.
He said once a year in April they have the alpacas sheared by professional shearers. The shearer did 53 animals in three hours. “He can do about one every seven minutes,” Goodwin said, “and we take that ‘fleece’ that it’s called at that point, and we send it out to be processed and turned into first roving or later into yarn, depending upon what product we’re going to do.”
Goodwin said the first trait of alpaca fiber is to let the hair grow as long as possible during the year. The longer the fiber is, the more you can get off the animal. The second trait is that the strands of fiber are as close to each other as possible so that they can be packed in together. The third trait is the finest of the fiber which will give it the softness. He said it is the first product from the alpaca, then it’s turned into yarn. “So that’s the product that you get off an alpaca.” Goodwin said, “My wife has a store on our property and she sells the yarn, the roving, and clothing.” His wife weaves the roving and makes the scarfs and other items like that.
Somebody asked Peter if they can be killed for meat and Goodwin answered, “No, no, because of the products and the value of an alpaca.” He discussed the value of alpacas: “A boy who’s not breedable probably has a value of about $300 — a female has a value of about $10,000; and a boy who’s breedable can have a value as much as $600,000.
Goodwin said his wife came up with the idea of starting the business and they bought three alpacas — two pregnant females — then bought more, started a herd and started to upgrade. All the animals in the alpaca herd in the United States are registered (via microchip), so the lineage is available on each animal — on both sides all the away back to when they were imported from Peru. They were imported during the late 1990s, and the registry was closed off, so now there are approximately 160,000 alpacas in the United States all registered.
Public visitations to the farm are allowed. Goodwin said, “We’re pretty flexible in terms of visits; of course during the week it’s a little bit more difficult, because we both work. Weekends are easier.”
From Thanksgiving through Christmas the farm and store are open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. On the first weekend in September the farm is open all day Saturday and all day Sunday, but any time you need to call, they try to accommodate people. “We’ve had as many as 45 people from a church group in a big bus out there — just depends on if we can make it work out,” he said.
Goodwin concluded his talk with an invitation to visit the farm. “If you ever want to come out, you’re all welcome. Just give us a call and we will try to arrange whenever you like to come.”
Bostic announced since Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day, Tommy Townsend from Ocoee has been invited to be the speaker for Nov. 26. The door prize, compliments of Steve Robinson of Cleveland Plywood, was won by Calvin Davis; the second door prize was won by Barbara Tucker.
Others attending were Ruby Ball, club recorder Shawn Markie, Kent Gunderson, Juanita Poteet and Martha Ledford.