Sylvie Sorlié and Patricia Schuhmacher, now deceased, left the south-east of France in search of suitable land to start breeding alpacas, this animal native to South America, a cousin of the llama and camels.
They chose the Lot, first near Gourdon, then in Frayssinet-le-Gourdonnais, where they found a 30 hectare estate that can accommodate the 40 alpacas of their herd in complete peace and quiet.
Thus, at the bend of a dirt road, big giant plush animals with a placid look but with their little character emerge in front of you. The Alpacas du Quercy farm, raises about forty alpacas for their wool, of an unparalleled fineness and softness.
But if they raise this animal primarily for their wool, they show visitors around and introduce them to this unusual animal. As soon as they arrive, visitors are plunged into the big bath. After a few warnings, do not touch the animals that hate contact and avoid being caught between two alpacas that are fighting each other because of untimely and unpleasant spitting, you are invited to enter the enclosure.
There, Sylvie Sorlié explains the characteristics and habits of alpacas, their origins... If the visitor cannot touch the animal, the alpaca, as a very curious animal, does not hesitate to get very close to the visitors!
These very hardy animals live outdoors all year round, and are sheared once a year, usually in late spring. If their flesh is eaten in South America, in France, they are considered pets. And if these animals do not like to be touched, they are on the other hand good companions for rides on the loin and have the same finesse of understanding as horses.
Visitors are invited to enter the pens and feed the alpacas.
A change of scenery and discovery...
Once the first approach is established with the animal, head for the large herd of females and young.
Here again, visitors find themselves sneaking between the animals in their pens, and may even participate in feeding them a few alfalfa treats specially designed for alpacas. Then on to the workshop to discover how wool is processed.
Because the Quercy Alpacas farm produces this wool from A to Z.
So, once the animals are sheared, Sylvie Sorlié proceeds to the cleaning of the wool, a long and essential stage. The main characteristic of alpaca wool is its very light and fine fibre, but also non greasy, lanolin-free and therefore odourless and hypoallergenic. Moreover, even in the middle of a summer heat wave, alpacas do not give off any odour.
Sylvie then explains how to card the wool, then spinning with a spinning wheel, with demonstrations. The hours it takes to make a ball of wool can be counted on the fingers of both hands.
The breeding and sale of wool and derived products made from alpaca wool (waistcoats, hats, scarves...) are the main resources of the farm.
All these products can be found for direct sale on the farm, but also at Christmas markets or on days devoted to wool, notably at the Lot la Laine festival in Cuzals.
But the farm has also diversified with the breeding of dwarf goats as well as an unusual activity of camping on the farm in two Saharan tents just a few meters from the herd.
Tel: 06 70 71 43 96
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator