August 3, 2012 was a packed day for me during my getaway in the Clarington travel region: after a tasty breakfast at the Our Valley View Bed and Breakfast and an enjoyable conversation with hostess Petra Schwirtz, I said goodbye and drove less than a kilometer up the road to the 1 Stop Alpaca Farm where I met Nancy and Garth Hutchinson who are raising a herd of more than 60 alpacas for their beautiful wool.
Alpacas are native to the South American Andes and similar to lamas, guanacos and vicuñas, they are part of the camel family. Alpacas are gentle animals and easy to get along with, so much so that Nancy even uses some of her alpacas as therapy animals for people with disabilities. A variety of other animals round out Nancy’s alpaca farm: several friendly dogs, including two white Maremma sheepdogs, various fancy crested ducks, chickens and three angora rabbits.
Nancy explained the wool making process to me, and wool from her alpacas, her angora rabbits and even the soft undercoat of her dogs gets washed, dyed and processed here. 1 Stop Alpacas also has a store that showcases a diverse range of alpaca-related products: hats, socks, ponchos, scarves, knitting wool and much more. Alpaca wool is known for its silky, warm and hypoallergenic qualities. A large number of ribbons show that Nancy’s alpacas have won many prizes and awards in different shows. Even alpaca poop is for sale, apparently an excellent fertilizer.
After my pleasant encounter with alpacas, my next stop on my tour of the Clarington area was Gallery on the Farm, an organic beef farm with a gallery of different types of bovine breeds that is complemented by an art gallery that features works by local artists and a variety of locally made products. Eric and Jenny Bowman are operating this farm as part of the 4th generations of Bowmans who have been farming in the Ennniskillen area.
The farm house dates back to the mid 19th century and the adjacent barn has even been featured during the annual Doors Open architecture festival due to its unique construction. Eric also introduced me to some of his cattle, which include Galloway and Scottish Highland Cattle as well as the Red and Black Angus breed.
The farm sells organic beef products as well as organic vegetables and regularly hosts special events, such as the Culture Days at the end of September which feature all sorts of local Clarington artists and business people. The Bowmans are committed to maintaining a healthy environment for the current farm inhabitants – cattle, soil and people – and intend to leave an environmentally sound legacy for their successors.
I had enjoyed these two unique animal encounters and was off to my next destination: Tyrone Mills, a historic saw and flour mill that provides picturesque shopping opportunities in the middle of the Clarington countryside.
For more information and to plan your trip please visit Clarington Tourism.