Answering an Unusual Email
Our journey with the elegant Suri alpacas began in 2012, thanks to a chance meeting with Liz and Tom Cooper through an email that first looked like spam! This lovely couple was retiring from alpacas and had an unusual plan to help an alpaca “newbie” get started.
Tom Cooper introducing Mona Lisa to horses for the first time!
A Serendipitous Start with Suris
This led to the majestic Sierra Bonitas Maccoyo Monet, a nine-time national champion, arriving on our ranch. We were fortunate to host him and a few other alpacas. Today, we proudly have two of Monet’s descendants, War Valley’s Salvador and War Valley’s Mona Lisa, roaming our pastures.
Monet with his winning fleece at the 2009 Nationals!
Diving Deeper with War Valley Alpacas
The Coopers weren’t just alpaca enthusiasts; they were our guiding stars. They generously shared tales of alpaca care, the art of fiber harvesting, and the magic of product creation. Their decision to retire from alpaca farming presented us with a golden opportunity to expand our herd and knowledge.
Mona Lisa at her first-ever show, the Southern Select Alpaca Show in Sevierville, TN in 2013!
A Glimpse into Alpaca History
Alpacas have been flaunting their fluff in the Andes Mountains of South America for thousands of years. Cherished by the ancient Incas in the Andes, they have long been prized for their luxurious fiber. Fast forward to modern times, and the story of alpacas in the United States is equally fascinating.
Closeup of Monet’s showstopping Suri fiber!
How Did Alpacas Get to the U.S.?
Turns out that the first known private importation of alpacas to the U.S. was in 1980 when Richard and Kay Patterson purchased a herd of ten animals from England. By 1984, the alpaca importation was in full swing. During the 1990s, alpacas arrived from Bolivia, Chile, and Peru! These large-scale waves of alpaca imports took place from 1984 to 1998. This means that all alpacas in the U.S. today are descendants of these recent arrivals.
Pixie and her freshly delivered cria standing for the first time!
Why We Chose Alpacas
After meeting Liz and Tom Cooper in 2012, War Valley’s Monet, a champion Suri alpaca, became a cornerstone of our alpaca program. We were fortunate to host Monet and other alpacas, and today, we are proud to have two of his offspring, War Valley’s Salvador and War Valley’s Mona Lisa, as part of our herd.
The Coopers, with their vast experience and knowledge, helped us navigate the world of alpaca health, fiber magic, and so much more! Their decision to retire from alpaca farming opened the door for our dive into the world of Suri alpacas.
FRR’s Mini Mo the Mustache Man – one of our prized Suri alpacas in his lustrous glory!
Huacaya: A Fluffy Addition
While our love for Suri alpacas remains unwavering, we couldn’t resist the allure of the fluffy Huacaya alpacas. Enter Christina, our delightful Huacaya darling, adding a touch of her cloud-like charm. Her presence adds a unique texture to our herd, allowing our guests to see the differences in the breeds firsthand.
Christina, a Huacaya alpaca, a few weeks before shearing. You can really see the fuzzy loft of her warm and cozy fleece!
Alpaca 101: Suri vs. Huacaya
All alpacas are renowned for their warm and luxurious fiber. While Suris dazzle with their silky, flowing locks with natural luster, Huacayas win hearts with their soft, crimped fleece for lofty warmth. And whether Suri or Huacaya, they’re all kinds of adorable!
Cute, Cuddly, and Oh-So-Clever
Alpacas, with their camel-like features, are part of the camelid family. With camels as their cousins, alpacas have the charm and the smarts. Those big, expressive eyes are adapted for seeing in low-light conditions. While they might seem aloof, preferring admiration from a distance, they’re trainable and can be quite cooperative with some patience and a sprinkling of routine.
Salvador & Edgar’s Alpaca-Duck Showdown at Free Radical Ranch!!
Masters of the Andes and Newbies in the U.S.
The journey from the Andes to the U.S. had its challenges. Because alpacas are native to a consistent and dry climate, they have to dodge pesky parasites and potential heat strokes during hot summers in the U.S. Shearing once a year helps keep them cool and also provides us with their precious fiber. And they line up to get sprayed off with a waterhose in the summer!
Buck and Braveheart, two Suri alpacas loving the snow!
Adaptations to the Andes
Alpacas were domesticated 6,000 years ago by the ancient Incas. Just like today, they were prized for their amazing fleece!
Many Incas fled to the Andes Mountains after the Spanish conquest in the 17th century. They took only their most prized alpacas with them. The alpacas that survived with the Incas were ones that were most adapted to the demanding conditions of the mountaintops.
Warm Suri alpacas following Jennifer on a cold Kentucky winter day!
Our Pasture Sweethearts!
Alpacas are sweethearts on our pastures too! They are efficient grazers. They prefer grass shoots and don’t pull them up by the roots. Their little padded camel-like feet are gentle on the ground so they don’t cause erosion. Being cousins to camels means they can thrive without a lot of water, although they always need a fresh supply.
Our predator fencing and guard llamas and donkeys help keep our alpacas safe from predators like coyotes, bobcats, and even domestic dogs.
And lucky for us, their dense fleece that kept them warm in the mountains grows 5 to 10 inches each year!
One of our guard llamas, Chantelle, behind a hay bale. Our Suri alpaca champion, Mona Lisa, is “kushed” in front of the bale. Alpacas fold their legs differently than other animals so they “kush” when they get down on the ground!
From Fiber to Fabulous Fashion
Our Suri alpacas are the stars of the fiber world. We offer 100% Suri alpaca yarns that tell tales of dedication and love. With a passion for their lustrous fibers, we lovingly handpick and hand-dye our treasures. Choose your favorite lustrous and colorful locks for beautiful embellishments!
Skeins of 100% Suri alpaca yarn from our alpacas. Mona Lisa’s fiber was used to make the white skein in the middle – you can see the luxurious shine even in a picture!
Supporting Our Peruvian Artisan Angels
At Free Radical Ranch, we believe in spreading love and supporting our global family. By partnering with a Fair Trade vendor, we ensure our talented Peruvian artisans are celebrated and rewarded for their incredible skills.
Peruvian pieces including hats, gloves, scarves, and Huacaya alpaca fiber keychains!
Join the Fluff Fest at Free Radical Ranch!
Fancy a day of alpaca antics? Come on over to Free Radical Ranch! Dive deep into the world of these fluffy wonders, learn their tales, and perhaps, take a piece of their heart (or fiber) home with you.
Join us for an unforgettable experience at Free Radical Ranch! Book your guided farm tour today and get ready to create memories that’ll warm your heart.
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15299 Parkers Grove Road
Morning View, Kentucky 41063