I have visited the Buckingham Palace of barns. In fact, I’m a tad jealous of the huacaya alpacas that enjoy life at Pondview Farm.
Jody Henderson, of Pondview Farm, is a former mental health nurse turned alpaca farmer near Newton, Ontario. Her 100 alpacas live on 50 acres in what is best described as alpaca bliss.
The Jody/Alpaca Connection
5 years ago Jody started breeding alpacas, focusing on producing the low micron counts that create the soft, warm fibres alpaca is known for. Perhaps it was her background as a mental health nurse and her deep understanding of the significance of relationships, which allowed her to form strong connections with the alpacas. She observed their relationships in the barn and field, getting to know their unique personalities while respecting their needs as a species. As her relationships with the alpacas grew, selling them as breeding stock became an impossible prospect. There had to be a way to keep all these gorgeous animals.
And Jody found it.
The key to keeping her alpacas was shifting Pondview’s focus away from breeding stock and towards developing the local production of high-quality alpaca fibre products; what I would name “investing in the fibreshed“. Today her products are made locally and range from hats to scarves, blankets to socks all in natural alpaca colours. Jody works with local farmers and processors to produce 3500 pairs local alpaca socks every year. She is also developing a unique, locally produced mitten that includes a nylon cover with an alpaca insert liner.
Clearly not a person to coast on her success, Jody further developed her capacity to assess alpaca fibres, becoming a certified Classer through Haliburton School of the Arts and the first Mentor Classer in Canada.
“They are living beings”
In addition to investing in the fibreshed, Jody is championing the perspective that animals are living beings deserving of respect, rather than simply products to be bought and sold. Care and compassion are clearly the central tenants of Pondview’s husbandry program. The barn is spacious, airy and clean. The alpacas have access to large outdoor areas complete with earthen mounds for them to play on (alpacas are originally from the Andes and they love to climb). All outdoor areas are protected from predators by 6” fences and 3 guard llamas hang out with the alpacas. Jody’s respect for these animals is truly a benchmark for sustainable fibre production.
As my tour of Pondview Farm came to a close, Jody summed up her symbiotic relationship with the Alpacas perfectly: “we give them a home for their whole life and they give use fibre”.
P.S. Want to visit Pondview Farms for yourself? They are hosting an Open House on October 31st, 2015.
Location: 7157 Road 129, Newton, ON
Farm Visits: Please Call Ahead - Group Tours Welcome
Farm Open House: October 31, 2021
Products: Blankets, Scarves, Hats, Mitts, Socks, Insoles
Contact: www.pondviewfarmalpacas.ca / 519-595-3747/ firstname.lastname@example.org
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