We recently posted all the reasons to buy a goat. And while I totally agree that goats are adorable and awesome, I am particularly partial to South America’s cute camelid, the alpaca. They’re totally cuter than goats. Just look at those big brown eyes and long eyelashes. Alpacas are due for some love.
Aside from the cute factor, they’re also responsible for producing some of the world’s finest and most versatile fiber. And the fiber isn’t just soft and beautiful, it’s even waterproof and flame resistant.
Alpacas totally don’t get the credit they deserve for their awesomeness. They’re often confused with their less sexy cousin, though equally versatile and important, the llama. But I still think the alpaca wins. Here are more reasons why:
1. Heifer has a project in Peru right now that is doing with the farmers what I’m trying to do with you. Re-value them. “Re-valueization” isn’t a word, but stick with me. There is an equivalent in Spanish called “revalorizer.” And that is what Heifer is doing in South America. We are helping farmers to refine the breed and teaching them to best leverage all the awesomeness of alpacas.
2. The ancient Incan civilization recognized their value so much that when they fled from the Spanish, they made sure that they brought their alpacas with them to the heights of the Andes (think Machu Picchu). Had the Incans not done this, we might not have many alpacas left today…
3. Alpacas bring so much to farmers in the high Andes. Their hooves are especially suited for the terrain of the area. They thrive between 14,000 and 16,000 feet, making them perfect for the campesinas that live in the remote Andean regions where families can be isolated and struggle with access. And thankfully, Alpacas are easily domesticated. See that picture above? They like to kiss their owners. Take that, goats.
4. Alpacas live a long time. They give birth and shed their fur every year, making them excellent for sustainable projects that stand the test of time. Their stomachs are great for this area too because they absorbs 50% more nutrients than sheep and goats—allowing it survive where there is only poor quality grass.
Do you need more reasons?
I guess the best one of all is right here:
5. I talked about her in a post earlier this year when I attended a training in Pitumarca, near Cusco, Peru. She is being trained on how to use a new machine to turn the alpaca fur into thread. She and her friends and peers all raise alpacas provided by Heifer Peru.
6. If you don’t know already, Heifer doesn’t just stop with providing the animal. We teach them to process the fur, dye it using natural dyes, store it properly, turn it into beautiful artisan products (see my awesome hat in my bio picture below) and market it. We cover the entire value chain, from the herd to the storefront.
And that is where you come in. You can keep these women going. You can help by buying a “Knitter’s Basket” from our gift catalog and then you can go to www.shop.heifer.org and buy a cute little hand-woven ornament by women in Peru! See how that works? From beginning to end you can make a difference.