It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially in Washougal, Washington where I spent the weekend before Christmas with my dear friend Margaret Custodio. In 2014 Margaret had a dream to start a small alpaca farm, and not long after that she brought her four babies home. Now Margaret has twelve alpacas, and this last summer two of her males won blue ribbons at the Alpacapalooza and Caba Classic. She named her farm “Whispering Songs Farm” because alpacas make a unique sound, sort of a soft squeal, that sounds a bit like a song.
Margaret was drawn to alpacas for many reasons. Everyone knows they’re adorable, but they also serve a useful purpose. Their hair, called fiber, is thick, wooly, and water resistant. It’s warmer than wool, yet softer than both cashmere and angora. They are sheared once a year and Margaret makes beautiful handmade rugs from their fiber on an old fashioned looking loom. It takes her about three days to make a rug, and the final result is stunning!
Care and Feeding
I had the pleasure of helping with some farm work during my short stay at Whispering Farms. The alpaca’s are fed a supplement called Nutri-Lux twice a day that looks a bit like grain, or pellets. Each alpaca has its own little feeder, and like any animal (and sometimes humans) they often try to steal their neighbor’s tasty treats. Its entertaining to watch their antics at feeding time. They’re also kept out in the pasture to graze at their leisure, and fed orchard grass hay from Eastern Washington. In fact my first day on the farm I helped unload two tons of it. Farm work is hard work, but Margaret loves it.
What’s Next at Whispering Songs Farms?
Margaret has all kind of wonderful plans for her alpaca products. Her dryer balls have become extremely popular and she can’t keep up with the demand. The dryer balls are used as a natural substitute for dryer sheets, but are all organic and save you money. They reduce the amount of time needed to dry your clothes, and last for years. One dryer ball sells for only $6. Margaret is also making gorgeous hats and scarves, as well as all-natural handmade soaps. Many of her products sold out quickly at the Vancouver Holiday Market and Camas Days.
Whispering Songs is a charming farm located about nine miles east of the town of Washougal, Washington. She also has chickens and the sweetest dog named Shelby. She is a Great Pyrenees, bred for protection of livestock, and she loyalty watches over the herd of alpacas.
The morning I had to leave, just two days before Christmas, I awoke to a wintry wonderland outside. The early dawn reflected off the newly fallen snow making the place look like a Thomas Kinkade painting. We wandered outside and fed the animals, taking in the picturesque beauty and enjoying the tranquility of life on the farm.