OnAgain OffAgain Farm in Spartanburg softly celebrates annual shearing of the alpacas
Alpacas are the thing at OnAgain OffAgain Farm in Spartanburg’s HIllbrook Forest community.
More than 50 alpacas make their home in the subdivision on the east side of the city and under normal circumstances, farm owners Juergen and Karen Kopp would be hosting spring tours and celebrating the farm’s annual shearing day with neighbors, friends and visitors.
While coronavirus has closed the farm to observers, Livin’ Upstate was invited to document the farm’s most important annual event.
“Alpacas really need to be shorn once a year and the biggest reason is because of the heat,” Juergen explains. “If you leave (the coat) on for too long in the summer, they can actually get heat stroke.”
While volunteers hold the alpaca’s head and body to keep the animal safe, Juergen begins by checking its teeth and clipping its nails. Placed in restraints to keep both the animal and the workers safe, the shearing begins.
“Unfortunately, these guys are non-volunteers in the shearing process,” Juergen explains. “It takes quite a bit to sheer them. It’s not like with a sheep where you just stand them up to shear them. You have to stretch these guys out on the ground.”
Fairly new to the United States, alpacas come from South America and often are confused with llamas. Their fiber is hypoallergenic and warm, lending itself to a variety of uses from fine garments to rugs and even insulation.
“If you’ve never worn a pair of alpaca socks, they are wonderful year-round socks,” Karen says. “In the summertime, they wick the moisture away, so your feet stay dry and comfortable, and in the wintertime they’re very, very warm.”
OnAgain OffAgain Farm raises and sells breeding stock, as well as alpacas for fiber and pets, offering mentoring before, during and after an animal is purchased. Two alpacas from the Spartanburg farm are now at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia and two more will be on their way there once the coronavirus crisis has passed.
The farm also offers shearing services, specializing in small farms.
And while farm tours presently are shut down, there was a special moment that resulted from the coronavirus situation.
Anthony and Courtney Fowler of Spartanburg were scheduled to be married at the end of March, with their selected date having special significance.
When their wedding venue canceled all events, the couple reached out to OnAgain OffAgain Farm to host a private ceremony.
“It was just the bride and groom and the officiant in attendance,” Karen said. “We put a bow tie on Malbec and he served as best man.”
Congratulations and best wishes to the beautiful couple, and great job Malbec!
For more information, visit the OnAgain OffAgain Farm website.