Value Farmers give to their Sheep, Alpaca, and Goats

Intellectual capital is defined as: knowledge, innovation, creativity, imagination that fosters the creation of new knowledge and discoveries -Yellow Wood Associates

People who own farms with sheep, alpaca, goats, and other fiber animals have extensive knowledge about their animals. Farmers give value to these animals beyond just the fibers they produce for yarns and clothes. Posts by the farmers on their Facebook and blog pages reveal characteristics of these animals that make them special.

Farmers provide perspectives based on their observations and experiences. Based on the photo and comment posted (shown below), it is implied that the sheep is confident. This is just one example of how farmers are personifying these animals. It is a great that parallels between animals and people are being made.

Red Brick Road Farm Icelandic Sheep & Wool, 2013
“Glimmer, my leader ewe, always in front.” Red Brick Road Farm Icelandic Sheep & Wool, 2013

These animals are also given names. One farmer named newborn goats based on Disney themes. Below is an image of twins Chip & Dale. The farmers take time to think of names, in this case, the names are pop cultural references. Farmers also invite Facebook users to suggest names. Thinking about a meaningful name for newborn fiber animals is a great way to get people interested in fiber farms.

"Another picture of Flower’s twins from this morning. The darker one is a girl. The lighter one is a boy" Fancy Fibers Farm
“Another picture of Flower’s twins from this morning. The darker one is a girl. The lighter one is a boy” Fancy Fibers Farm, 2013

It is also great how the farmers point out the differences between twins (see comment of image above and below. As a twin, I am amazed at the diversity of physical appearances among identical and fraternal twins. It is great to see this phenomena in adorable animals. 🙂

"Twin ram lambs, one solid black, and the other a single gene grey mouflon" Red Brick Road Farm, 2013
“Twin ram lambs, one solid black, and the other a single gene grey mouflon” Red Brick Road Farm, 2013

Farmers convey excitement in the birth of new animals. Below is a birth announcement that was created. The lives of these animals are cherished as much as lives of people. The farmer also explains the significance of the baby alpaca’s name, which again conveys choosing meaningful names.

"Welcome sweet Abel!!!! There is a story behind his name... Just last year we lost a beautiful boy named Caine... This little boy that was just born has the same father as Caine and in biblical terms, Abel was the brother of Cain so we found it fitting to name this sweet boy, Abel!! His name also means, "Breath"...  Upright Alpaca Farm, 2013
“Welcome sweet Abel!!!! There is a story behind his name… Just last year we lost a beautiful boy named Caine… This little boy that was just born has the same father as Caine and in biblical terms, Abel was the brother of Cain so we found it fitting to name this sweet boy, Abel!! His name also means, “Breath”… Upright Alpaca Farm, 2013

Farmers also take time to determine fiber quality of their beloved fiber animals. In the photograph below, the farmer is trying to match the baby alpaca’s fiber color to a standard set of colors by the Alpaca industry. Ideally, the color would match one of the standard 22 shades and be uniform. This would allow for the consistent production of alpaca yarns for mass-produced clothes.

Upright Alpaca Farm, 2013
Upright Alpaca Farm, 2013

However, it is not uncommon for these animals to be multi-colored. This is true for sheep, goats, and alpaca. Even if these animals do not meet color quality standards, they are still highly valued.

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at 3.31.54 PM
Red Brick Road Farm, 2013

Below is a loving birth announcement for a multi-colored baby alpaca that is creme, grey, black, and brown. Farmers suggest that the fiber colors change as the animals get older. A farmer from the Fancy Fibers Farm provided this comment for her multi-colored goat: “You guys take a good look at little Koda. I’d be willing to bet money that he won’t stay black and white for long.” Facebook users commented: “bet he grays out!” and “he could end up ANY color. Boysenberry was black and white last year and ended up cream colored with a brown face.” This suggests that, like people, these animals experience changes in physical appearance.

Upright Alpaca Farm, 2013
Upright Alpaca Farm, 2013

This information is valuable in developing an apparel value chain that acknowledges farmers as sources of intellectual knowledge. Greater awareness of the farmer’s perspective is critical in understanding natural animal fibers as “raw materials” for clothing production and consumption. Wearing clothes made of animal fibers is like wearing a part of the ecosystem. Giving greater value and learning what farmers have to say can help us realize that it would be ethically wrong to not make full use of clothes that carries the spirit and soul of these  fiber animals.

Please visit the following pages for more information:

Upright Alpaca Farm, Virginia:

Facebook page

Red Brick Road Farm, Illinois:

Facebook page

blog

Fancy Fibers Farm, Texas:

Facebook page

blog

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