Critters and Christmas Combined -- Nov 27th & 28th

Sierra Rose Alpaca Farm in Grass Valley held an open house on Friday afternoon, Nov 27th.  Having just enjoyed a big, yummy breakfast with our friends, Donna and Danny, at Awful Annie's in Auburn that morning, we thought a stroll amongst the alpacas might be a fun capper to Black Friday.  No shopping for us today!  Not much traffic, either, tho we wondered if we'd get caught in any shopping crowd messes on the road.  We didn't, and it was a lovely day to be Out and About.

Farm owner, Howard (left), gave our small group a guided tour.  I think the large alpaca's name (front) is Jessica, and she followed Howard around like a faithful dog.  He said it was unusual for an alpaca to bond with a human, but she had.  Her five-month-old son, Sam, in his cinnamon-colored coat, stands directly behind her.  Sam was more skittish, but we could pet Jessica's back and neck easily.  Jimmy is behind the lady in the red jacket (we didn't know the other two ladies).

This little girl's name is Rose, and she's also five months old.

As you see, some of these ladies have pretty fancy hairdo's!

There are two types of alpacas: Huacayas produce a dense, soft, crimpy and sheep-like fiber, and most of the alpacas in my pictures are this type. Suris, like the one above, have silky pencil-like locks, resembling dreadlocks but without matted fibers.  Alpaca fleece/fiber is soft, durable, and luxurious.  A silky natural fiber, it's very valuable.  While similar to sheep's wool, alpaca fiber is warmer, not prickly and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic.  All of the alpacas in this long pen were ladies.  Boys and girls are kept apart until a baby alpaca is wanted.  No, we're not thinking about buying one.  Be hard to transport it in the RV! 

Alpacas are sweet, docile animals, who hum softly to each other as a way of communication.  I like.

This girl is a blue-eyed white alpaca, which is not a desirable trait, as they're often born deaf (who can tell?). They shouldn't be mated to a male blue-eyed white, and there are other restrictions regarding mating.  Strange to see blue eyes, especially with the horizontal pupils. 

I saved the best picture for last!  What a face!

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On Saturday the 28th, Jimmy and I popped in at Empire Mine's holiday open house. This State Historic Park is in Grass Valley, and is full of gold history!  To quote from their brochure:  "Open for business from 1850 until its closing in 1956, Empire Mine produced 5.8 million ounces of gold."  That's the equivalent to a box seven feet long, seven feet high, and seven feet deep filled with gold -- hoy! -- too bad they don't give samples! The park contains many of the old mine buildings, and today volunteers were manning exhibits.  Also, 367 miles of abandoned and flooded mine shafts exist below the mine and the City of Grass Valley, which is a little bit scary to contemplate.

The Bourn Cottage was open today, with its living history docents.  We went in and joined the cook for a cookie in the kitchen.  My idea of a cottage is certainly different than the Bourn Cottage pictured above and below.  The grounds are gorgeous.

Holiday music floated over the grounds, thanks to these carolers.

Autumn tree color continues on the grounds,
but it was definitely chilly and we appreciated our jackets.

These fallen leaves are actually encased in ice!
A thin layer of ice covers this shallow reflecting pool.  Brrr!

After touring the grounds and the house, we exited the park proper, grabbed our water, and went for a nice hike in the waning afternoon sun along the Hardrock Trail.  We walked past monstrous piles of tailings, and luckily enough we didn't fall into an abandoned mine shaft!  We pretty much had the trail to ourselves after encountering these two equestrians, tho it was a fine day to be out walking ... it was good for us anyway!


  1. I love the faces of those alpacas. We picked up a couple of sweaters made with baby alpaca yarn when we were in Peru -- so soft and warm. I think the cottage sizes grow with wallet sizes ;-)

  2. Love those alpaca faces and hair styles! SOMEday you will take me to meet them in person, right? RIGHT? love from your Seester.

  3. Those alpacas are too sweet! They sound like are much more friendly than llamas.

    What a gorgeous "cottage" and the fall colors are still hanging around to make for a nice outing.


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