Welp, I’m down the rabbit hole in fiber arts. It’s a good thing!
I have been needle felting for a short time now and I really really enjoy it! For those who are unfamiliar with the craft, here is how it goes: using roving wool, you felt shapes using a serrated needle which pulls the fibers together, tangling them so to speak. Doing this repetitively, shapes the wool and makes it dense. You can make three dimensional sculptures, or two dimensional art. Lots of ladies needle felt to make applique for sewing projects. I had no idea there were so many uses for wool outside of yarn and garment making. I’ve been working from the book Little Felted Animals by Marie-Noelle Horvath. Margot loves the little critters and often runs off with them.
At the Farmers Market I happened to come across a booth for the Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch. They sell the roving I need for felting, and they source it themselves. They often bring their alpacas out into the community for meets and greets. I learned they offer tours of their ranch, and jumped at the opportunity. I brought along my family and friends for the visit.
We fed the animals and learned a lot about raising alpacas and chickens. I had lots of questions about wool processing, and made sure to stock up on roving. Of course I’m now committed to having my own alpaca ranch. I’m not sure how I’m going to juggle that with my Alaska plans, Olympia dreams and world-traveling ideas. But the allure of living off my own garden, and earning revenue from chickens and alpaca wool sounds so appealing and rewarding.
Adding to the appeal of ranching in high desert Arizona: my grandpa Don used to have his own Emu ranch about an hour away from where we live now. He lives here in Sierra Vista, and I’ve had the opportunity to ask him questions about his ranching over dinner. Entrepreneurs are so interesting to break bread with! Emus were trendy right after my Grandpa invested in them, and the revenue from egg and chick sales supported him for a long time. He also served in the Army at Ft. Huachuca. It’s like this place is calling to us to stay and raise livestock!
We recently visited Tubac, AZ and chatted with the owner of a wool shop. She told us she raises Alpacas in Minnesota and boards them during the winter when she snowbirds in Arixona. So of course I’m researching, and studying, and dreaming up the ways I can have my cake and eat it too. With alpacas.