Sawdust Alpacas and Harvest Hosts
Today my dad called me on Facetime. We were assisting with getting a newborn alpaca to nurse. He was understandably flabbergasted. Shouldn't we be driving or climbing a mountain or something? You may be wondering how in the world this happened. It's all thanks to Harvest Hosts.
Harvest Hosts is a membership program for RVers. They recruit farms, wineries, museums and other attractions who have space to park RVs to open up their businesses for campers to boondock for a night. ("Boondocking" is overnighting in a space with no electricity or water hookups.) In return for a free night of parking, campers are asked to purchase products from the business or otherwise provide a minimum of a $20 donation to their cause. The program is a win-win for small businesses or non-profits and campers alike, and it's a great opportunity to meet other people and learn about their lives or business. (Harvest Hosts also has a sister program called Boondockers Welcome where RV enthusiasts offer free nights of stay, sometimes in their driveway, other times on a farm or forest.)
On our long drive across the vast expanse of Nevada on U.S. Route 50 (The Loneliest Road in America), we stopped in Fallon and were greeted by Glenn and his wife Carolyn from Sawdust Alpacas. They had already messaged us about a birth that had happened the day before, so we were eager to meet the cria, as new alpacas are called. No sooner had we parked the truck that Glenn had us introduced to the newbie, then the kids walked and weighed an adult and got her ready for a toenail trim. We learned about their breeding program and the sheering process and met several favorites of their herd of 37.
We got up early the next morning to help with feeding (hay, alfalfa pellets, and a chipped beet and water mixture), then Brickhead held the cria while he received a necessary vaccination. After two hours of feeding, playing with the alpacas, and learning about the breed and their habits, we went to get the RV ready to roll while Glenn began cleaning up the pens.
In no time at all, Glenn came back to the RV and told us a new cria had just been born! We rushed back out to the field, surprised that we had just been there and didn't see any signs of a mama in the midst of the birthing process. Sure enough, the cria was laying in the sand, but the only mama in sight looking over him was the mama who gave birth two days before. The kids helped clean up the cria, then we all went on a search to find the mama, who still wasn't stepping forward to check on her baby.
Our detective skills led us to determine that Lily was the mother. We all corralled her, Glenn haltered her, and Banana led her to meet her son. We all watched as the cria learned to stand, then walk, then nurse. Such a special experience to be there when all of that took place!
Glenn and Carolyn take amazing care of their animals and pay close attention to details in keeping it clean. But the alpacas help too! Unlike most farm animals, they naturally have a communal bathroom area. Makes for much easier clean up!
Sawdust Alpacas has two RV spaces on the farm and offer 30 amp electric hook up for a charge of $10. Carolyn runs a store with gorgeous sweaters, hats, gloves, and other alpaca wool items made both locally and shipped from Peru. Last year Sawdust Alpacas hosted 300 visitors, and this year we were their 182nd family. In talking with them, we learned that they used to live in Polson, Montana (where we just happened to be a few weeks ago) and, in the 1960's, Glenn put up the reinforcing concrete on the tunnel of Going to the Sun Road, which we learned about from our GyPSy Guide when we drove the road in Glacier National Park! Later he worked construction building many structures around Lake Tahoe--where we were last week. Talk about a small world.
We highly recommend the Harvest Hosts membership for RVers. Currently with 4,250 host locations, it's well worth the membership fee. You'll be paid many times over with the opportunities for learning about our country and it's connections with the world and meeting the wonderful hosts. I have been known to have complained a time or two about the "vast nothingness" of Nevada and how I kind of needed it to fall off the map, but the stop here was totally worth the drive across "The Loneliest Road in America." If we're ever back in the area again, we'll definitely be requesting a stay with Sawdust Alpacas!
As a side note, the Loneliest Road really wasn't that bad. The long stretches between small towns were filled with beautiful scenery. It was a gorgeous drive--and easy to follow! We didn't even need the GPS!
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