Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 32

Alpaca D'Auxvasse sells and trades alpaca fiber to local weavers,
knitters and artisans. Their wares, including hats, gloves and
scarves, are sold at their store as well as art and craft fairs.

Talkin' Alpaca
Auxvasse farm weaves warm business with fluffy friends
by Shawna Bethell | info@ruralmissouri.coop

composter who shares nutrient-rich compost - along with alpaca dung called
'beans' - with local growers.
"I love tomato season!" says Ann, with a laugh. "All the growers that I share
n a quiet patch of land that is protected by stands of evergreen and shadedappled by maple and oak trees, Ann Mayes lovingly tends a herd of curi- my compost with share their farm goodies with me during the summer."
Ann also purchases wool from local sheep farmers to blend with her
ous, richly colored, sweet-natured creatures.
Alpacas D'Auxvasse, the business Ann created in 2003,
alpaca fiber and trades fiber to local weavers and knitters, whose resulting
hats, gloves, scarves and other wares are in turn sold in her shop and her
is the result of a "love at first sight" moment, which took place
halfway across the country in Seattle, Washington back in
booths at art and craft fairs.
1993.
Ann is learning to weave aside from doing the roving and spinning
"My brother and I were at a county fair," Ann says, rememberof the fibers she sells. Artists can also choose to purchase the fiber in
Auxvasse
its raw form, which means it is simply cleaned after shearing.
ing the first moment she encountered an alpaca. "I think it was
their eyes that first attracted me, and then their lovely, peaceful
Alpaca fleece is naturally earth-toned in color and ranges from
white and warm cream to a glistening light brown, dark brown
demeanor. I'm a very tactile person, so when I actually touched
or black. Ann custom dyes fiber for those who prefer brighter
them, I was sold and could never get them out of my head."
colors.
But looking at the animal's price tag, Ann knew a purchase was
At one point, in an attempt to share her quality of life and
out of the question. At the time, she had children at home in Wentzville, a suburb of St. Louis, and was working in corporate America. It
expand the business at the same time, Ann opened Alpacas
D'Auxvasse to overnight stays, but had so few people book reservawould be another 10 years before she committed to following her heart.
"I was up late, drinking wine with a friend one night, talking about the tions that she discontinued the effort.
"We are just too far from restaurants and movie theaters for most travelers,"
world's problems, when I said I should just buy a farm and raise alpacas," Ann
says. "The next morning, it still seemed like a good idea. I was 50 at the time, she says.
But that does not stop the day-trippers, who are welcome to visit the farm as
and I wanted to do it before I was too old."
Shortly after, Ann put her house on the market and started looking for real long as they make an appointment. Picnic tables grace the lawn near the barns,
estate in the country. She was raised in the city, but always wanted to live on a and the animals, which are very good-natured, friendly beasts, are allowed to
farm, so she followed that dream to Auxvasse, purchased some land and three graze nearby.
"People bring their picnics and sit at the tables among the animals," says
alpacas, two of which were expecting.
She intended to breed the animals and only sell stock, but when her mother, Ann. "If I get the chance, I try to make a batch of cookies for them, too."
The farm currently houses nearly 42 alpacas, half of which belong to Ann
Micki, who was an avid knitter, moved in next door, the two grew the business to include textiles as well. Sadly, Ann lost her mother, but continues that and another 21 that are being boarded for other owners.
She admits that she took on her animals
part of the business by partnering with local
when the alpaca market was falling. Some
knitters and weavers.
owners in the same position have at times
"It was hard when Mom passed," says
simply abandoned animals they no longer
Ann. "She did such beautiful work and carneed. Others sell to the more current exotic
ried a large part of that business."
meat niche market.
For those unfamiliar with the animals,
But Ann doesn't sell her animals for
alpacas are members of the camelid family,
butchering
though they do not have humps as associ"I never wanted to have to kill anything,"
ated with camels. According to the Alpaca
she says.
Owners Association, alpacas are indigenous
So 15 years after following her dream of
to South America, but have been domestiowning alpacas, it is still the lifestyle that
cated for thousands of years and are used
sustains her.
predominately for their fleece - also known
"They have totally delivered on that first
as fiber - which is sheared once a year.
impression," she says, thinking back to
There are two breeds of alpaca, and Ann
those large, dark eyes that stole her heart
owns both: the Huacaya, which sports a
at the county fair. "I still just love the anifluffy, cloud-like fleece, and the Suri, which
mals. I can sit in the barn, smell the hay
is more rare and wears a silkier, lustrous
and enjoy that same peaceful feeling and
fleece which drapes in elegant pencil-sized
be happy."
locks. And though they will spit at one
another when aggravated, alpacas are genFor more information on Alpacas
erally docile and relatively quiet creatures.
D'Auxvasse you may visit their website at
"It was the best thing I ever did," Ann
www.alpacasauxvasse.com or find them
says of her decision. "I'm not going to get
on Facebook at www.facebook.com/alpacrich, but the alpacas pay for themselves.
The lifestyle is the reward."
Alpacas are sheared yearly. The raw fibers, as shown here, are then cleaned and pro- asauxvasse.
That lifestyle is one of living sustain- cessed for use in weaving, knitting and fiber art creations. Alapacas D'Auxvasse is open
Bethell is a freelance writer from Fulton.
ably, which is important to Ann, a devout to visitors by appointment.

O

32

RURAL MISSOURI | JANUARY 2019


http://www.alpacasauxvasse.com http://www.facebook.com/alpacasauxvasse http://www.facebook.com/alpacasauxvasse

Rural Missouri - January 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2019

Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 4
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 5
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 6
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 7
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 8
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 9
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 10
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 11
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 12
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 13
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 14
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 15
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 16
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 17
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 18
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 19
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 20
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 21
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 22
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 23
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 24
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 25
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 26
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 27
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 28
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Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 30
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 31
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 32
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 33
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 34
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 35
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Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 37
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - 38
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2019 - Cover4
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