Gretchen and Hal Schlomann moved to their farm in Clinton in 2009, which they named Fern Ridge Alpacas. They brought three pregnant alpacas with them. Today the herd numbers 20, plus three friendly guard llamas.
They breed their alpacas for improved fleece quality for fiber and textile production. Recently one of their males was awarded a blue ribbon at Alpacapalooza, a Washington alpaca competition.
Fern Ridge Alpacas has been producing a variety of products from the fleece they harvest from their herd — from luxuriously soft yarn and roving to alpaca rugs and felted products.
Letting nothing their alpacas produce go to waste, they are turning the alpaca “beans” into worm castings. Last year they began a vermi-composting (worm compost) project and set up a suitable environment for the worms who are now happily turning alpaca poo into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Fern Ridge designed and built their own equipment for harvesting the finished worm castings. Visitors can see how vermiculture works and purchase a bag of castings to help their garden grow.
Alpacas are well suited to small acreage farming. These gentle and curious animals are easy to care for and are easy on the pasture. With thoughtful pasture management and rotational grazing, alpacas are environmentally friendly livestock. Alpaca fiber is gaining wide use in luxury apparel, home furnishings and is sought after by handspinners and fiber artists. The Fern Ridge farm store in a yurt features incomparably soft and warm alpaca socks, hats, scarves, gloves, blankets, yarn and other alpaca clothing and fiber products.
A visit to Fern Ridge Alpacas offers an informative Whidbey Island farm experience in a beautiful and relaxing setting plus great photo opportunities with their adorable alpacas.
If you have a few acres and would love to raise your own alpacas for fleece or as delightful companions, the Schlomanns can help you get started and provide valuable mentoring.
Fern Ridge Alpacas is located in Clinton on Holst Road three miles from the ferry. The friendly alpacas and guard llamas love to welcome visitors and nibble treats offered by a friendly hand. The farm is open most days. Please call ahead to schedule a tour: 206-778-9619 (farm cell). For additional information, visit the website.