What’s better than cozying up with a luxuriously soft alpaca scarf or a warm pair of alpaca socks? Scarves and socks made with fiber from local alpacas. Northern Rhode Island boasts several spots where shoppers can stock up on winter necessities while supporting local farmers and the animals they raise. Read on to learn where you can find local alpaca products and meet these South American natives in their New England homes.

Hidden Nook Farm

462 Greenville Road, North Smithfield

Russ Moulico opened Hidden Nook Farm in North Smithfield about nine years ago. A truck driver by day, Moulico said the hobby-turned-side-business of raising alpacas came about because of his love for animals.

“I’ve always been involved with animals. I’ve done animal control work, I’ve been a zookeeper, I’ve just been a big animal lover all my life. Anyone who knows me well can definitely vouch for that,” he said.

Like many local alpaca farms, Hidden Nook sends its fiber to a mill in Fall River for processing and sells the resulting products online and in an onsite store, as well as at Fierce Jewels in North Scituate. Kevin Cordeiro, who runs the stores on the property, said the biggest seller is the “Kate Middleton hat,” a winter hat made with 100 percent baby alpaca fur. The store also carries scarves, gloves, socks and children’s products.

“The good thing about alpaca clothing, it’s hypoallergenic. So any problems you would have with wool, you won’t get with alpaca products. It’s very soft like silk, and it’s very warm,” Cordeiro said.

Along with producing alpaca fiber products and offering alpacas for sale, Hidden Nook also participates in medical research and serves as a training farm for the Tufts University veterinary program. Moulico said he hopes to train his animals to be comfortable around people so he can bring them to hospitals for visits and offer educational programs.

The store at Hidden Nook Farm is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and online at www.alpacacreations.com.

Chaos Farm

1890 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln

When Emily and Tim Bonci started keeping alpacas about six years ago, they were looking for a sensory-friendly animal they could raise at home with their children. Their herd, which Emily calls “tiny but mighty,” recently doubled in size to six animals and also includes a collection of hens, roosters and guinea fowl.

Emily, a speech therapist and stay-at-home parent, said alpaca season is like a teaching gig that gets busiest in the winter when fiber products are in demand. The couple sells their products online through Etsy and Facebook as well as at farmers’ markets and the Artisan Pop-Up Co-Op in Chepachet. Emily makes many of the products by hand, including felted soap and eco-friendly dryer balls, and orders the rest through the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool in Fall River.

“They take our fiber and they process it, clean it, color it, spin it and combine it with other New England alpaca farms to make items that we can purchase at a farmers’ credit,” she explained.

The family recently hosted their first alpaca photo session, bringing out a professional photographer to take photos of visitors with the herd. Most of the animals on the farm are rescues, Emily said.

“I love sharing the animals with people, and to see these people, it was just awesome,” she said. “I want to do it again for Christmas.”

Chaos Farm products can be found on the Chaos Farm pages on Facebook and Etsy.

Ladylove Llamas

82 Cucumber Hill Road, Foster

At Ladylove Llamas in Foster, Bonnie Lambert knows how to keep a happy herd. Her family of three llamas and nine alpacas recently celebrated the arrival of two newborns, which the other animals will help raise in a matriarchal unit, she explained.

“Everybody works together. It makes for a nice herd,” she said.

Lambert said her biggest seller is the hand-spun yarn she makes right on the property. She uses organic dyes and also carries traditional winter items like hats and scarves. Material that’s not spun on site is taken to the Still River Fiber Mill in Connecticut for processing.

“(Alpaca fiber) traps air, it doesn’t have a lot of that lanolin and greasy stuff like sheep’s wool does, and it’s nice and soft so you just wash it with shampoo,” she said.

She also offers classes in spinning and dyeing and takes farm visits by appointment. The llamas and alpacas are a hit with her students at Warwick Veterans Memorial Middle School, she said, where she teaches seventh grade when she’s not taking care of her four legged friends.

Ladylove Llamas products can be found online at www.ladylovelamas.wixsite.com/lama or by emailing Lambert at lamafarm2015@gmail.com.

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