Alpacas roam the field at Kensington Prairie Farm in Langley. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Business is good for Langley alpaca farm

It all started with five acres and a brief conversation

Langley alpaca farm owner Catherine Simpson says it all started when a friend told her alpacas don’t spit.

About 23 years ago, she and her husband bought a small farm in Surrey and decided they should really get some animals, probably llamas.

But when she mentioned that to a friend, she was warned against it.

“You should get alpacas,” the friend said.

“Llamas spit.”

Over the years, the location of the farm has shifted and the number of alpacas on it has increased.

Kensington takes its name from its first home, in an area of Surrey historically known as Kensington Prairie County.

Simpson started with a dozen alpacas, and the number quickly grew to more than 30 animals before moving to Langley in 2006, expanding Kensington Prairie Farm from five to 45 acres in the process.

Kensington also raises registered Hereford cattle and produces artisanal honey.

READ MORE: Spring shearing — alpacas receive annual hair cut at south Langley farm

The farm currently has a herd of more than 40 of the fuzzy South American mammals, which supply the fibre used to make the knitted items on sale in the farm store at 1736 248 St.

“We process our own fleece into yarn,” said Simpson during the seventh annual Alpacas & Artisans holiday sale at the farm.

“All of the yarn at our store is from our own animals.”

Free to the public, the event collects donations for Quechua Benefit, a charity providing services to the poorest Quechua alpaca breeders in Peru.

Quechua operates a children’s village and conducts annual medical and dental missions to remote areas of the Peruvian highlands.

Kensington also donates proceeds from group farm tours like Langley Circle Farm Tour to the charity.

In addition to yarn and knitted products, the farm also sells naturally raised, hormone-free beef and alpaca meat.

Alpaca steaks and sausages are high in protein, high in iron and low in cholesterol.

“Very, very low fat, exceedingly lean,” Simpson said.

“It’s kind of a cross between veal and lamb.”

Whether an alpaca is kept for shearing or used for meat depends on the quality of their fibre count, which is tested regularly.

When an animals fibre becomes unusable, “then they go to meat.” Simpson said.

“It’s (using them for meat) not widely accepted by many alpaca farmers, likely because they view their animals as pets instead of stock,” she said.

“Its not a decision I take lightly.”

The Kensington website notes that alpacas are a food source for people of the Andes, calling it “one of the healthiest and oldest food sources of Incan and pre-Incan peoples. To this day, it remains an important daily food source for the people of the highlands and is considered a delicacy in the upscale South American culinary world.”

The numbers of people coming to the farm to shop is increasing, Simpson said.

“I think it’s a sign of the time, people are looking for quality products from the farm gate as opposed to mall shopping.”

“Business is great,” she said. “So much for retirement.”

Technically, Simpson retired, from paid employment, about 15 years ago.

She said she plans to remain in the alpaca business as long as it’s fun.

“It makes me smile and I think I’ll keep doing it as long as I smile every single day when I get up.”

As for the spitting, it turns out the friend wasn’t entirely accurate.

Alpacas do spit, Simpson said, though not as much as llamas, who are known for gobbing unsuspecting humans.

“Only at each other and if they’re pregnant,” she said, “and we occasionally get a persnickety one.”



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

An alpaca eyes visitors at Kensington Prairie Farm in Langley. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

The recent Alpacas and Artisans sale at Kensington Prairie Farm in Langley was a busy day for owner Catherine Simpson. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Just Posted

Langley Township purchases Alder Inn and neighbouring lots for $5.4-million

The municipality has ‘no immediate plans’ to redevelop nearly one-acre in the downtown core

Grey-haired bank robber hit with dye pack in Langley heist

Police are looking for an older man who may be stained with dye

UPDATED: Condolences pour forth from community after passing of Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa

The Conservative Member of Parliament and long-time community advocate died in hospice this morning

Half million dollars guarantees Aldergrove man a new truck

Aird – a resident of 25 years in Aldergrove – has been buying lottery tickets for “forever.”

New Langley bistro caters to board game fans and families

Local food and games at every table is the formula for the new business

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Most Read