— The Openherd Team

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Alpacas at Windy Hill

"Alpaca Ownership with a Safety Net"

Cindy Harris
7660 Bradley Rd.Somis, CA 93066

Friday, December 20, 2019

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night



Every night I am grateful for my livestock guardian dogs. They watch the fenceline, they discourage predators who lurk in places I can't see, and their barking makes me smile and go back to sleep.

This time of year, I think of some other shepherds--human ones--- who didn't have the luxury of a chainlink fence and a warm bed. They watched the Temple flock-- the one the sacrificial lambs were drawn from for the Temple in Jerusalem. And they were the ones to first hear of the arrival read more...

Friday, July 18, 2014



I pulled up behind the truck, finally close enough to really read the bumper sticker: “STOP GLOBAL WHINING”. Humor is often based on a surprise—a word trick that suddenly spins the world sideways or upside down. This surprise made me shriek with laughter. I don’t really know why, but I giggled all the way home. It’s a good thing I was alone. I might have scared somebody.
Aside from the obvious reason it amused me, I was delighted to have a humorous refer read more...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Imagining the Future Together...

What will happen to our wonderful herds of alpacas in the next 10 years? Imagine with me for a moment what the alpaca industry might look like in 2024….

If we ask the man on the street in 2024 “What is an alpaca?”, we might get a variety of answers.

“Alpacas? Weren’t they like ostrichs? People used to pay ridiculous prices for them but the bubble burst. Now you don’t hear about them much anymore.”

“Alpacas? Yeah, they tried to make them into livestock. Yo read more...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Do We Need for the Long Haul? The Alpaca Industry is morphing into yet another step toward the commercial fiber industry. What do we need to get there?

The alpaca industry has undergone a shake-down during the recession just like all industries in the U.S. Prices have gone down, just like the housing market. Some breeders have trimmed their herds down to the very best. Some have taken this opportunity to retire. Most of us have had a long dry spell in alpaca sales. What used to pass for moderate quality alpacas are now relegated to the “rug yarn” herd…or even the meat market.

There has been an increase in the pet/fiber

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Knitting with Suri: Old Practice, New Twist

KNITTING has experienced a revival in the last several years. In this day of electronics, many people are choosing to get in touch with some of the more tactile and traditional skills of human history. The Knitting Circle has become popular again. It might, at first glance, look like a group of Millenials texting on their phones, but it’s really a group of people (men too!) getting in touch with their fuzzier, warmer side by actually talking in person while they create something useful a read more...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sleek! Chic! Sveldt!

The first glimpse of brilliance!

The first glimpse of brilliance!


This is how I think of newly-shorn suri alpacas.

Some people think they are funny-looking when they are newly-shorn.

But as an alpaca breeder, this is one of my favorite moments of the year.
I see how their conformation stands out better when I can see the clean lines of their bodies.
I can clearly see how their pregnancy is developing, whether they are read more...
Blinding luster on Brando!

Blinding luster on Brando!

Cindy with 3 sleek girls

Cindy with 3 sleek girls

Endless Summer watches his buddy being sheared.

Endless Summer watches his buddy being sheared.

Glistening! Sparkling!

Glistening! Sparkling!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Shearing Comes But Once A Year

Doug with his buddy, Stormy Crawford.

Doug with his buddy, Stormy Crawford.

Shearing alpacas is a big deal Windy Hill.

It’s that defining moment when we finally see the fruits of our labor in a tangible way:

What is the fleece really like?
Is there enough luster?
Did that breeding create an improvement in the fleece?
What does it feel like if you close your eyes?
How much does the bag weigh?

There’s a lot of preparation and planning that goes into an alpaca shearing day:
make arrangements with the shearin
AWH Silvano's Gunpowder & Lead gets his

AWH Silvano's Gunpowder & Lead gets his "glamour shot".

High luster meets a sure and steady hand.

High luster meets a sure and steady hand.

John demonstrates how he makes his first cut of the blanket, not overlapping passes with the  blades

John demonstrates how he makes his first cut of the blanket, not overlapping passes with the blades

Miracle gives me an unsure look as the shearers stretch her out on the mat.

Miracle gives me an unsure look as the shearers stretch her out on the mat.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Humming in the Rain

People ask us all the time: “What do you do with the alpacas in the rain?”

“Not much”, I tell them. “The alpacas have their own ideas about what to do in the rain.”

They hum, so sometimes I just hum along with them. It’s the friendly thing to do.
Some of them stand under their shelters and eat.
Some of them go out to graze because staying under cover is boring.
Some of them sleep in the rain. Those are usually the ones who grew up in Oregon.
Some of

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


AWH Torbio's Endless Summer

AWH Torbio's Endless Summer

CHAMPION! It has such a nice ring to it! I was grinning from ear to ear this weekend when Endless Summer won his championship in Arizona. Not only is he beautiful and sweet, but he is one of our last Torbio boys. He's built just like his famous daddy--square and blocky with heavy, shiny fleece. A real joy!

There was a time, though, when I worried about him. When he was about 6 months old we discovered one morning that he had broken his leg just above the hock of his right hind. read more...
Shearing table in use.

Shearing table in use.

Sire: Pperuvian Torbio

Sire: Pperuvian Torbio

Dam: Accoyo America Encantadora

Dam: Accoyo America Encantadora

Monday, February 10, 2014

Miracle's Graduation Day!

Some of you may remember Miracle's story…
…the cria we thought was dead who was really alive who had muconium spill and whose mother died the next day leaving her an orphan with legs all crooked and a kink in her neck who we thought wouldn't live but who has thrived in spite of our fears and dire predictions…

Well, Miracle has graduated. She has become a full-fledged alpaca. She's completely sold out to the idea. Unlike some crias who are bottle-fed, Miracle never really wa read more...