Friday, November 22, 2013

Alpaca’s at Rita Dee Farm



My family took a trip to Pfafftown, NC for a tour of Rita Dee Farm where Alpaca’s are free to graze and are raised for their soft fiber. Denise and Spencer Yost own the farm and Denise offered to give us a tour. Our tour was special because of the new babies that have joined the herd! Winter Bliss (baby Alpaca above) and Hearts Desire are the new babies. They both had their own jackets to keep warm. I was able to bottle feed Winter Bliss as you will see in one of the photos below. The Alpacas are very gentle and a bit shy at times, but they couldn’t resist the allure of food!

Check out everything they are doing on their website. You can also find them on Facebook! 


Special thanks to Denise Yost for giving us a tour.

Alpaca facial expression

Alpaca’s are social animals and I think they enjoyed the extra attention. Alpaca’s are definitely one of a kind. I couldn’t get over how cute they are! They are smaller than llamas and are bred for their meat, fiber, and leather. Llama’s are bulkier so they can be used as pack animals, but Alpacas are not used for that purpose. Alpaca’s were originally from South America and lived in the Andes mountains. They do well in cooler climates. They live in Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, and are domesticated within the United States.

44-alpaca foot

Alpaca’s are eco-friendly and don't damage the habitat because of their padded feet, they fertilize the grass with their droppings, and they don't pull up the grass by its roots which makes for a more appealing pasture.


46-baby alpaca

Winter Bliss is posed and ready for a meal. We had to bottle feed her because her mother was not being responsive to her. It was tricky at first, but I got the hang of it.


Winter Bliss had to be held in order to feed her. Once the bottle was in, I could tell she was thirsty. It took some time and patience, but she finished most of the bottle. Stroking her nose at times helped to make her more relaxed.



 10-IMG_1783   18-IMG_1796 

On the left is the mother of Winter Bliss. She was calm and we were able to stroke her back. Part of the goal for starting the farm is to have Alpaca’s that can be used for therapy. They also want to have educational programs to continue blessing the community.

05-prize winner   04-IMG_1749

We learned that Cuz is a prize winning Alpaca. He won his first blue ribbon at The Royal Alpaca Challenge in Conyers, GA on November 2nd.


Heart’s Desire was born at 9 a.m. 2 hours before our arrival. It was a special day to be able to see the new baby. The mama was making a fuss and moving around a lot which made it challenging for the baby to get nourishment. We were able to hear all sorts of interesting Alpaca noises!


Hearts Desire all bundled up.


I was able to learn some techniques for spinning on a drop spindle. Alpaca fiber works well for this. It can be dyed or used in its natural coloration. We plan on going back to see the annual Alpaca shearing. I look forward to sharing it with all my blog readers.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sustainable Living at Ray Family Farm, NC



Sustainable living for the Ray family is more than just a practice it is an integral part of their faith and beliefs. It is a way of life they have chosen and take pleasure in sharing it with others. This following sentence in their own words sums up the reason behind their sustainable living choices. “We take the charge very seriously God gave us to have dominion over and provide for all creation.” Creation and natural resources are a gift from God and should be treated at such. It is the simple everyday choices that add up and make an impact. It is one thing to say something and another thing to do it. Sustainable living is a continual process and we will never master it, but if we make a conscious effort towards it, we will see results.


The Old Thyme Farm Market is a source of income for the Ray Family Farm. They also have a well established online store. They are well stocked with beef and the cows graze a pasture that once was occupied with row crop tobacco. They have a long list of products available. Their meat selection include chicken, turkey (thanksgiving is around the corner!), free-range eggs,  hogs, and even lamb. They go quick so check out their online selection as soon as you can! Their selection isn’t limited to just meat. My salivary glands began kicking in after seeing Jodi’s Key Lime Pie and a Southern Bourbon Pecan Pie. Note – The bourbon is only for flavor and they made sure in the description that that was clarified.


Wildflowers are an important addition to the farm. What sustainable farm is complete without an array of flowers? Flowers are attractors of beneficial insects, bees, and of course butterflies. The Ray family knows the power of flowers and has dedicated 20 acres to native switch grass and wildflowers for wildlife.


Free-range chickens add character to the farm as you will notice below! The two males were having an one-on-one combat. They must have been determining who would be the new chief in the pecking order at “The Chicken Inn.”

21-fighting roosters




These cows were deemed the “Oreo Cows” because of their color patterns. They have black on each side with the cream in the middle. They are a heritage breed and their actual breed name is the Belted Galloways. They were very calm and used to attention. They even gave me reason to believe they enjoyed the extra attention.


The hogs are part of the farm as well. Mama hog was busy while the rest of the bunch (picture below) were outside taking a snooze and just being plain lazy! I guess that is just what hogs like to do.

 23-lazy pigs


The farm’s number one goal is to educate family’s on sustainable farming. They do this through tours for families. Their a living example of what can be accomplished through family team work and provision from the Lord. The verse they try to live by is Proverbs 3: 28 – 29.

Proverbs 3:28-29
Do not say to your neighbor, Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it, When you have it with you.