Alpaca bunch of fun at Hill Crest Alpaca’s Farm Days

Sep 29, 2019

As Caitlyn Gifford and Breanna Yerkes brought Apple Bottom out on a leash, hoards of kids and adults alike stopped to pet and feed the one-year-old alpaca. 

As one of the youngest of Hill Crest Alpacas’ animals, Applebottom is still a little skittish around people. Which is why kids approached slowly, with their hands folded upside down, to stroke her lofty fur. 

“She’s so sweet, but a little stubborn,” Gifford said as she showed a young kid how to pet her. 

Visitors to the Old Fall River Road farm got a chance to pet Apple Bottom and 20 other animals as part of National Alpaca Farm Days. On September 28 and 29, farms across the country opened their gates to introduce curious visitors to the animals and their products. 

“The idea is to teach them about alpacas and what they’re all about,” said Roger Lanouette, who runs the farm with his wife Shirley and their family. “They’re exotic, and not very usual animals, so people are curious.” 

The Lanouettes themselves got curious when a random television commercial flashed on their TV screen one night stating “Alpacas Are Awesome.”

Having never heard of the animal before, they visited a few farms to check them out. As they were nearing retirement age, they decided raising alpacas was their retirement calling. The farm opened in 2006. 

During the Farm Days event, Shirley staffed the farm’s on-location shop, which sells products produced using their alpca’s fibers. 

Once the alpacas are sheared, the fibers are sent to the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool (NEAFP) co-op based in Fall River. Ready-to-sell products including socks, shirts, mittens, goves, hats, and other clothing items are then returned to the farm. 

In addition to learning about the products, guests got up close with the animals by feeding and petting them. 

Sue Ann Dasilva brought Ava Lynn Gonsalves, 8, and Giselle Dasilva, 5, to visit the animals after one of her friends told her about the event. 

“I think alpacas are the cutest things ever, but I’ve never seen one in person before today,” Sue Ann said. “They’re so soft and cute.” 

Ava got to feed the animals, which left her with a distinct impression about their eating habits. 

“They’re so soft, but they eat weird, they nibble,” she said, adding she liked seeing the different colors of alpacas. 

Miss your chance to check out the Farm Days event? Hill Crest is hosting a special Halloween-themed event on October 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring costumed alpacas. The farm is located at 338 Old Fall River Rd.