All Things Alpaca
In response to life-changing circumstances, Julie Verhelst, forever the designer and creator of anything novel, came up with a new use for all the alpaca fiber that had been collecting in her basement for eight years. Not only had she found another way to diversity the farm (Sunny Meade Alpacas, Ltd. in Swanton, Ohio), but she would develop a source of extra income to support herself and the farm. Julie, and her sister Kimberly Buechner Fouse, also an alpaca breeder, launched a “sister” company in addition to their livestock businesses. Hence, the birth of All Things Alpaca, LLC, and its first endeavor, bird nesting balls from alpaca fiber.
In December 2014, the Alpaca Fleece-filled Bird Nesting Ball® became a registered trademark. In November 2016, the Alpaca Fleece-filled Bird Nesting Ball® became patented. So, what is this nesting ball and what makes alpaca fiber so special as a nesting material? Each four-inch ball is made from grapevines, and hand-filled with at least three colors of fiber (alpacas come in 22 natural colors). The fiber that is used in the ball is typically from the seconds that are shorn from the animal each year. (No animal is harmed to secure the fiber.) The seconds are normally too short or not the quality used in the production of fine garments. The nesting ball hangs from a jute rope in a tree and blends into the environment. Alpaca, a hollow fiber, wicks water and when wet, quickly dries to its natural fluffy state. The delicate fiber, unlike some nesting materials, is easily used by birds and does not attract predators to the nest. The chickadees and titmice, in particular, enjoy it!
All Things Alpaca, LLC has partnered with area schools and supports programs for young adults with developmental disabilities. Many of our Alpaca Fleece-filled Bird Nesting Ball®s are made by individuals with epilepsy and/or developmental disabilities as part of a Vocational Activity Program. The Nesting Ball project helps contribute to this unique 'in-house' programming that encourages motor skill development, focus, creativity and builds self-esteem.