My family and I recently enjoyed a visit to a great little alpaca farm in Cape May County, known as Jersey Shore Alpacas. The farm is in a small town outside of Historic Cape May, called Green Creek, and is owned and operated by Jim and Tish Carpinelli. When we arrived, we were the only visitors at the time, which allowed for us to get a great private tour of the farm, as well as ask all the questions we had about these beautiful creatures.
Alpacas are mainly from Peru, which we learned, and their fleece is used to make yarn for warm sweaters, hats, etc. The fleece of an alpaca is much softer than that of a sheep. The Carpinellis own 17 alpacas, and have bred many of them right on their very own property. They are not planning on breeding any longer, considering that alpacas live to be around 20 years old, and they want to be able to care for all of their alpacas themselves.
Each of the 17 alpacas at Jersey Shore Alpacas has a name, some named for their traits. Maybelline is a pretty alpaca that appears to be wearing heavy eyeliner and mascara. Some are named for their country, like the oldest alpaca on the farm, Andina, who is 17, and was born in Peru. Some are named for family members or friends who share the same birthdays.
My children’s favorite part of the visit to Jersey Shore Alpacas was getting to share carrot sticks with the alpacas. For an alpaca, their main source of food is grass, hay, and nutrient rich pellets, but their favorite treat is carrot sticks. Tish keeps a cooler full of bagged carrot sticks ready for all the visitors on days when the farm is open to the public. My 1 year old son, shown feeding Maybelline, couldn’t wait to get his chance to interact with the animals! We learned through our conversation with Tish that Alpacas only have front teeth on the bottom, which they use to take the carrots, and then chew them with their molars. The absence of top front teeth makes it very difficult for the aplacas to actually bite anyone, and she’s never had a problem with that at the farm.
For anyone brave enough to try it, like my 7 year old, shown below, another way to share carrots with the alpacas is “mouth feeding”. You simply place the carrot stick between your own front teeth and the alpaca will take it from you. These creatures were very gentle and calm. We were able to pet them between treats, and feel just how soft their fur really was!
Before we left the Jersey Shore Alpacas farm, we took a look through the shop, where there were lots of great items on display, made from the alpacas wool. Tish explained to us that she has a shearer come in to fleece the alpacas in the spring, and then sends the wool out to Peru to have the yarn and other products made, which can take as long as 7-10 months. When it returns, she sells some of the products in her shop.
Jersey Shore Alpacas is free to visit, and donations are greatly appreciated. Jersey Shore Alpacas is located at 521 Rt 47 S. Cape May, NJ 08204. Visiting days and hours change based upon the seasons, so it is best to check their website, www.jerseyshorealpacas.com/visiting-our-farm before heading over, at Jersey Shore Alpacas. Tell all of our new friends we said “Hi!” and make sure to tell them Jersey Family Fun sent you!