Mother’s Day!  Father’s Day!  Graduations!  Weddings!  When we come out of the winter doldrums, we really do stack it up for ourselves, don’t we?  I need to relax!  You need to relax! We all need to relax!  And finish up that infinity scarf we have been pecking away at since November! So – who’s in this with me?

Wouldn’t you just love to sit down and work on that project that has been calling to you?  I know I would!

On Saturday June 4, we are offering an opportunity for local crafters – or anyone who would just like a bit of leisure time – to come out to the farm for our first Craft-In!  Bring a project in progress or a new kit to start, and relax with the alpacas.  You can knit, crochet, bead, quilt, needle felt, weave baskets, or glue macaroni on cardboard – it doesn’t matter at all.  Do whatever you love.

The farm will be open to crafters, or anyone who just wants to spend some low-key leisure time, from 10:00AM to 4:00PM, and crafters will have the opportunity to work on their favorite projects and interact with the alpacas in a fun and relaxing way.  Wayne will be on hand in the barn to guide animal lovers who wish to meet the alpacas.  I will be crafting – showing off my expertise in the one knitting stitch and two crochet stitches with which I am proficient.  Light refreshments and cool drinks will be provided.

So dial it down a bit, just for one day.  Come on out and sit among the alpacas – sit in the studio – sit on the deck – sit beside the trees – and just take pleasure in the crafting experience.  Who says multi-tasking has to be stressful – you can catch your breath, enjoy nature, and make some progress on your favorite project. 

 Shepherd’s Purse Alpacas is located at 7971 Bennett Branch Road in Mount Airy, just off MD Route 144 near the intersection of routes 27 and I-70. Visit for more details and directions.

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…we greet thee with…SNOW???

Here’s a picture of our farm about a week and a half ago.  Yes, it was SPRING…but we received a healthy dose of SNOW.

It’s still winter here, obviously.  It was below freezing last night, and they are calling for a cold rain, possibly mixed with wet snowflakes, tonight.  Our poor blueberry bush is budding but has had to hold back on bursting forth.  The bees are still hugging the hive.  I just came in from outside, and normally the spring peepers would be making enough noise to cover my off-key singing, but there is not a one to drown me out yet.

The most worrisome part of this late winter is that we will be shearing the alpacas in four days.  Yes, the weatherman is calling for warmer temperatures this weekend, but I’m going to have 37 naked alpacas to watch for the next few weeks, until the warm weather arrives in earnest.  We can never call this right – if we had a late shearing date I’m sure we’d be dealing with record high temperatures right now.  But what can we do?  One takes the shearer when one can get the shearer, especially if he’s as good as ours.

So we’ll be firing up the barn heaters at night and breaking out the alpaca coats.  At least there are no babies due this spring!

Stay tuned – the next post will be a shearing day post-mortem!

Princess in the snow

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Hear that Lonesome Whistle Blow…

Well, it’s New Year’s Day and we have had snow on the ground since Christmas Eve.   That makes things pretty and messy at the same time.  I’ll concentrate on the pretty and try to ignore the messy (words to live by!)

There’s a train that runs through Mount Airy, a couple miles from our farm.  I can hear the whistle, very faintly, in the house.  Sometimes at night, I hear that whistle and I’m glad to be here in my own nest, still and safe, with my alpacas snug in their barns and my husband in the house with me.

I know some people hear the same whistle and are filled with the desire to move along, to see new places, to do new things.  And that’s wonderful for them!  But it doesn’t resonate with me.  When I hear the train whistle or hear a plane fly overhead, I – kinda – feel sorry for the travelers therein.  You see, I’ve always felt that there are “roots” people and “wings” people.  God bless those broad-minded, adventurous wings people!  I love to hear their stories and I even ask to see their vacation pictures.  But I am a roots person.  I’m happiest at my place with my people and my animals.  That is the temperament I have been given, so I’ll curl up inside it and enjoy my small world.

Apropos of this, I’ve had people refer to my farming experience as my “journey.”  Again, God bless ‘em, but I don’t really see it that way.  This is not my journey but my life.  I am not between two points; I am neither moving on from something nor moving toward something.  I am here right now, and here I live and work.  Sure, I have goals and plans, but I expect them to happen to me within this place and according to these seasons.  It’s more of a circular movement than a linear one.  That’s not boring to me – it’s comforting.

Are you setting your roots or using your wings?

Here’s an update on the Snake Story:

A couple weeks ago, I was taking my sweaters and accoutrements on the road for the good folks at DAI in Alexandria, VA to do some Christmas shopping during their holiday party.  Unbeknownst to me, Sheri Dougherty and Tara Close of DAI had read my blog post about my run-in with Mr. Snake.  As I was unpacking my wares, in an Alexandria glass-tower office building, imagine my surprise as two black snakes flew through the air and landed in my suitcase!  First I screamed – then I LOL’d.  I am now the proud owner of a little rubber snake, courtesy of Sheri and Tara (my Dad took the other one.)  He’s currently curled around the trunk of my Christmas tree (the snake, not my Dad.)   You can see a picture of my new buddy below.  Thanks, Sheri and Tara!  I promise to give him a good home!

The Deadly Rubber Snake

RUBBER snakes I can handle!


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Allow me to introduce myself…

FARMING WITHOUT PANTS – Life as a Prissy, Middle-Aged Farming Woman

My name is Cindy Aldrich and I am an alpaca farmer. I’m writing this blog to share my experiences on the farm. My husband Wayne and I have owned and bred alpacas for over ten years now. Prior to that, we had no experience with any type of agricultural effort. We’ve gone from being “babes in the woods” to running a farm with 37 happy and healthy critters. There’s a picture of us at the head of this post. It’s a couple years old, but we still look about the same.

Why “Farming Without Pants”? Well, I live my life and do all my work in a skirt. I’m not comfortable in pants – don’t like ‘em, won’t wear ‘em. I only own one pair of scrub pants that I wear when I’m working the beehive. I won’t tolerate chipped nail polish and I put on lipstick before I go down to the barns.

You may have deduced, almost at once, that I am a huge priss. I never expected to be on a farm. My friends and family never expected me to be on a farm. My husband also never expected me to be on a farm. My Dad still talks about the time I wore three-inch heels to his company picnic. So why am I farming? What can I say? I saw a picture of alpacas in a magazine in 1997 and something popped in my brain. We researched it for YEARS, first to be sure that people like us with no farming background could raise livestock so they would thrive, and also to make sure that it wasn’t just some temporary weirdness that invaded my brain and would cause me to get into something I would one day rue. But raising and caring for alpacas seems to fit in with my temperament. I have indeed done some things that I never thought I would do – some delightful and many disgusting. But one does what one must when one must, and I believe I am a more well-rounded person for it. And my animals are the better for it, too.

It took me a long time to write this initial entry. I’ve gone from, “I will write something that will astound the whole world and change it for the better!” to “I will write something that, perhaps, will entertain and educate people!” to “I will write something!” One tailors one’s expectations to fit one’s reality, does not one?

So, what can I say about farming that has not already been said? It’s stimulating! It’s boring! Something new happens every day! The drudgery is crushing! It’s peaceful! It’s nerve-wracking! It’s all of these things rolled together every day. Sort of like life in general.

There’s so much to do every day on a working farm. I look back at my previous life in a little house in the ‘burbs on 1/3 acre and wonder, “What did I do with all my time back then?” I always thought I was busy, and I always felt that I was busy, but there’s no way my life then compares to my life now.

Dear Reader, is there anything you’d like to know about us, or our farm, or our animals? I’d like to blog on a weekly basis, time and events permitting.

I expect my posts may contain some sarcasm and maybe a little hyperbole – that’s kind of how I roll as a storyteller – but here’s a story of something that happened to me in September that is completely, entirely true. I posted this tale on one of my alpaca chat sites and now I’m sharing it with you:


Many have heard me boasting from time to time about how I’ve never seen a snake on my property. Well, after September 28, 2012, if I say it again you can call me a lying liar.

I was painting in the barn that fine morning and around 10:30 I went up to the house to get another painting tray. I proceed back down to the drive and suddenly see, about ten feet in front of me, a black snake. A BIG black snake. He’s stretched over almost the entire width of the drive.

So I do what any sensible person would do – I stop in my tracks, drop everything I am carrying and start screaming at the top of my lungs, “WAYNE!!!! HELP!!! WAYNE!!!! SNAKE!!! HELP ME!!!! SNAAAAAAAKE!!!!” Wayne doesn’t hear me – he’s in the barn and the fans are on. Makes no difference to me – I keep on yowling.

At this point Mr. Snake does something incredibly hostile – he moves his head.

Picture, if you will, an object that moves faster than the speed of light. Put that object on crack and you’ll have a rough idea of my run into the house.

I dialed Wayne on his cell phone (as well as I could when I was shaking like an earthquake) and told him – well, yelled to him – that I had seen a snake. His first question was, “Where are you?” “I’m in the house – the SNAKE is ON THE DRIVEWAY – WAHHHHH…” Wayne says, “I’m coming right up.” “Be careful – he’s on the drive between the barn and the fiber shanty – WAAAAHHHHH….”

By the time Wayne gets to the house I’m wailing like a banshee and breathing into a paper bag. Seriously. How attractive. Wayne reports that there was no snake to be seen. Of course. Mr. Snake won’t reveal his presence to my ally.

So I wail a bit and after a while it ratchets down to pathetic mewling. What to do now? There is painting to be finished in the barn. Like they used to say to James Brown, “You gotta go back out there, man.”

So I have a little nip and ask Wayne to drive me down to the barn. On the drive down, I see a shovel propped against the fence between the fiber shanty and the barn. I start howling all over again, “You were going to kill him for me! I love you! I LOVE YOOOOOUU!!!” Wayne deserves props for not having me committed right then and there.

Anyway, I did finish the painting in the barn, but I drove up and down there for a while. Mr. Snake has not shown himself again – although that’s probably because he’s all curled up warm and snug and hibernating and planning his next foray into my sphere, the wretch.

As I close, I want to stipulate that I DO realize that the black snake is The Farmer’s Friend, and it’s probably a good thing we did not neutralize him. He’s welcome to eat all of my mice that he wants – as long as he does it by telepathy, from someone else’s property.

That is all….


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