Mattapoisett alpaca farm invites public to meet the herd
Mattapoisett — There’s probably one thing you want to do when you see an alpaca – pet it. Well, here’s your chance.
Currently home to 17 of the heavily fleeced South American animals, Pine Meadow Alpacas farm, located at 109 Marion Road (Route 6), welcomes those curious about the animals to come and meet them on Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as part of National Alpaca Farm Days.
Jeff and Heidi Paine and their daughters Lauren and Diana moved their small but growing herd to Mattapoisett from Connecticut three years ago.
The family first got the idea to raise alpaca after visiting a farm in Vermont while on vacation.
“Our mother claims she never said this, but we heard her say ‘We’re not getting any of these,’” said Lauren, 14.
Whether or not she said it is still a family joke, but the Paines got their first five alpaca in 2011 for Christmas. They also weren’t supposed to have males, but one, Patience, was in the mix and ended up being too cute to return.
Now the Paines breed and sell alpaca, and the girls have shown them.
Diana now lives in Florida, but Lauren, a freshman at Bristol County Agricultural High School, goes to competitions that test both her showing skills and the alpacas’ performance.
“It was an easy animal to show,” said her father Jeff.
Jeff has worked with cows, and said alpaca are much easier to take care of. The pack animals don’t need much space. And while the Paine’s have four acres of land, 10 alpaca can live comfortably on a single acre, according to Lauren.
Their warm fleece is shorn about one a year, both to keep the animals cool in the summer and for yarn. The Paines send their alpaca fleece to a mill in Fall River that produces gloves, hats, mittens, scarves and other products from the lightweight, yet soft and warm fiber.
Aside from all that, owning alpaca is a lot of fun, say the Paines.
“They’re a very cool animal. They’re different but they’re fun,” said Jeff.
Lauren, who hopes one day to own a zoo, said alpaca also have a relaxing effect.
“I think they’re just a naturally calming animal,” she said. “Don’t you just want to go up and hug them? They are very sweet and very inquisitive.”
The Paines hopes lots of local residents will come to Pine Meadow this weekend to find that out for themselves. There will be an opportunity to meet and pet the animals, ask questions and see some of the training Lauren has done to show them at competitions. Some of the fleece products will also be for sale.
And, of course, there will also be lots of photo ops.
“Alpacas really like selfies,” Jeff said.