Open house features alpacas & fiber art

By on September 24, 2011

Photo: 7-year old Ty Vaughan enjoys a sunny day with Peaches, a one-day-old alpaca, born
at Waldron’s farm. Ty’s mother, Linda, volunteers her time at the farm. Photos by Susan O’Neill

Waldron Grove Alpacas
Farm Open House
Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 24-25,
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
39W856 McDonald Road, Elgin
No admission fee
Felt and fiber demonstrations
Alpaca fiber art and alpacas available for

by Susan O’Neill
ELGIN—Alpaca baby Peaches made her entrance into the world at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16. She emerged nose first; then one leg poked out. Susan Waldron was glad she had taken those neonatal classes when she realized that Peaches needed help to get her other leg free. Several minutes of gentle maneuvering and lots of KY jelly later, the second leg appeared along with the rest of her face.

Peaches’ mother Tootsie took over from there. Peaches arrived, intact and healthy, and soon her long neck was rotating to the left and right as she took in her new surroundings. She stretched out her long, spindly legs in an attempt to stand up.

Susan carried the tiny alpaca into a stall and dried her off a bit to keep her from getting a chill. Then she stepped out to give the mom and her baby time to bond. Tootsie welcomed her newborn baby, nuzzling her and making little clicking noises. The birthing was a success.

Peaches and Tootsie are among the 36 alpacas that will be at the Waldron Grove Alpaca Farm Open House this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24-25.

Visitors will see the alpacas in their own environment, and several fiber artists will have their artwork for sale, as well as hand-dyed yarn and roving—fleece that has been cleaned and combed. The artists each have at least one alpaca that boards at the Waldron’s farm, and they use the fleece in their fiber art.

Sugar Grove resident Jo Armstrong, whose art includes woven wall hangings and clothing, processes her own alpaca’s fleeces from washing to spinning. She will demonstrate her spinning techniques. LuAnn Toberg and Anita Riemer make knitting and needle felting kits for creating bracelets with the fleeces. Linda Vaughan, who volunteers her time to help Susan care for the animals, is a potter. Her work, which consists of functional pottery, will be on sale at the open house, as well. Waldron’s work includes tapestries, originally designed clothing and accessories, also for purchase.

Felt and fiber demonstrations will take place throughout the day, and some of the alpacas are also for sale.

Susan said that she and her husband Ron always look forward to sharing their alpaca experience with others. When she and Ron retired, they first began going to alpaca shows just for fun. Susan said they saw people their own age raising alpacas, and their imaginations began to take off.

After about a year of seminars and additional research, the couple sold their house in Wayne in 2003, bought an old farmhouse on five acres in rural Elgin and purchased their first alpaca.

“It started as a hobby,” Susan said.

Susan and Ron soon became enamoured of their new adventure. They began researching blood lines, and purchased Suri alpacas for breeding. They entered their animals in Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA)-sanctioned shows throughout the Midwest, as well as the AOBA nationals in Louisville, where they won ribbons for the conformation of the alpacas, as well as for the luster and fineness of their fleeces. They are now considered premier Suri alpaca breeders in Illinois.

“The ribbons gave us credibility,” Susan said.

Susan began creating fiber art in 2005, after taking a seminar at the Fine Line in St. Charles. She started by making tapestries, and currently creates clothing such as jackets, scarves and purses.

Susan currently divides her time between caring for the animals, creating her art and teaching others. She sells her work to galleries, as well as clothing stores, both locally and in other states, as well.

“I feel very blessed,” she said. “I used to work to keep Cheerios on the table; now I get to do what I want.”