Photo by Julia Hart
Wanda Carpenter, chats with Nouvella Club member Bev Nading about some of the items made from her alpaca fleece. Carpenter, a Prosser alpaca farmer, was guest speaker Thursday’s club meeting.
As of Monday, January 29, 2018
SUNNYSIDE Working with alpacas, goats and Grand Pyrenees guard dogs has filled Prosser woman Wanda Carpenter’s life since her retirement from teaching.
“I grew up on a farm, but for most of my life, I haven’t lived the duties of caring for animals,” the Oregon-to-Yakima Valley transplant said.
Carpenter’s education career took her from Oregon to the Yakama Nation to teaching at Heritage University, “…and Children’s Village, where I was a home visitor working with children.”
“When I decided to retire, I knew I wanted to enjoy my retirement and decided to have a business on the side,” she said of her farming adventure.
“And I always wanted to write children’s books,” she told Nouvella membership Thursday.
Today, Carpenter cares for a small herd of milking goats, Huacaya alpacas and the faithful, but protective Grand Pyrenees dogs.
It may seem like an unusual mix, Carpenter said. She contends that the mix of animals works well.
“The dogs watch over both the alpacas and the goats. The alpacas protect the goats. The goats eat anything the alpacas don’t like,” she said.
Alpacas thrive on a low protein diet, and goats like high protein meals,” she said.
In addition to caring for her livestock, Carpenter writes the children’s books she always dreamt of doing. Her stories are based on the antics of her critters.
“There are too many books out there about alpacas, she said “There are plenty about llamas,” she said.
Carpenter has written several self-published books – Down on Grandpa’s Farm and From Alpaca to Yarn – each using photographs of local alpacas from her farm and nearby farms.
Carpenter primarily raises Huacaya alpacas on her farm, which is named after her first female – Grace.
“I’d say my farm is a less traditional than some of the alpaca farms,” she said of her desire to combine the goats and dogs on her Prosser acreage.
She does spend a lot of time cooping with the other farmers, such as Sage Bluffs Alpaca Farm, which annually hosts open farm day events and celebrates Nearly Naka Alpaca Day following the spring shearing.
Although Carpenter doesn’t spin her own yarn, she is busy making items from the fleece of her herd.
“Each alpaca will annually produce between 5-8 pounds of wool, she said.
She sells her finished items at local bazaars, Saturday markets and in her farm store.
“I use everything,” she said. Nothing goes to waste.” Carpenter said since the alpacas were introduced to the North America in the 1980s, people keep the docile and friendly camelids as pets and for the value of their fleece.