by Elle Maynard.
Photo Credits: Andrew Rohleder.
For David Rose, the journey to retirement has not been what many would consider traditional. While contemplating life’s next chapter after a career with the Department of Agriculture, David came across a magazine advertisement for alpacas. “I’d never thought of owning alpacas, but they sounded interesting, so I figured let’s try this.”
So, in 2001, while still working his day job, David purchased seven. “Since I didn’t know much about alpacas, I chose not to order from the magazine ad. I bought from two local breeders who helped me to get going.” Through David’s moonlighting efforts, his three-acre property is now home to 61 alpacas. His business, Moonlight Rose Alpacas, is one of the top alpaca breeder farms in Massachusetts. All of David’s animals are certified with the Alpaca Owners Association, which provides a pedigree registry similar to the American Kennel Club. He shows animals at the Big E and the North American Alpaca Show. When questioned how the herd competes, his “Oh, I have a suitcase full of ribbons” reply is a testament to both his dedicated effort to raise superior alpacas, and to his friendly, laid-back style.
David’s dedication and fondness are obvious in his interactions with the animals. As a one-man show, he tends to nearly all of the farm chores solo—the daily feeding and stall cleaning; the monthly administering of vaccines; and the regular trimming of teeth and nails. Since David can expect his alpacas to live for 20 years, he has plenty of opportunities to get to know their personalities, quirks, and names (yes, he names each animal.)
Personalities are most evident on shearing day. As David explains, “We get it over with all at once—eight hours of drama, lots of screaming and spitting.” The alpaca’s sheared coat, referred to as fiber, is separated, bagged, and delivered to a mill in Fall River, where it is cleaned and processed into merchandise. The finished socks, scarves, hats, mittens, and sweaters are returned to David, who fulfills all online orders from a spare bedroom in his home year-round, while local winter farmers’ markets provide a hands-on alpaca gear experience from November to April.
David’s “let’s try this” response to a magazine advertisement is working well for this chapter of his life. If you are inspired to “try this” too, David has animals available for breeding, fiber production, or as a friendly addition to your family. If you aren’t ready for ownership, a pair of alpaca socks will keep you warm all winter.
Moonlight Rose Alpacas
91 Chace Street
Swansea, MA 02777
David’s Alpaca Facts:
• Camel, llamas, and alpacas are “cousins”.
• The first alpaca was imported to the U.S from South America in 1986, now there are 184,000.
• Alpaca fiber contains no lanolin, providing a hypoallergenic alternative to wool.
• Cold winters = a faster-growing coat and longer fibers. Warm winters = slower growth and shorter fibers.