By Shannon Clinton
While some people need reminders to stop and smell the roses, Alvina Maynard says she sometimes has to remind herself to pause from her ranch chores long enough to stop and enjoy the llamas, watching them interact with each other in the pasture.
Maynard is the owner of River Hill Ranch in Richmond, a family operation celebrating its 10th anniversary of raising alpacas, making and selling items from their wool and hosting youth camps, tours by reservation and other events.
The ranch’s 10th anniversary celebration will be held 1- 5 p.m. Saturday, December 10 with activities for everyone to enjoy including education stations and wool weaving and spinning demonstrations, animal encounters, scavenger hunt, pony rides and a special visit and photo opportunity from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Admission is $20 per vehicle or $10 per person.
”What I love about folks coming out here the most is being able to give them time to really take it all in and experience it at a slower pace,” she said. “We’ll have several picnic blankets that people can grab and just sit in the grass and watch animals and their antics.”
Originally from California, Maynard is a former U.S. Air Force investigator with six years of active duty and 11 years and counting in the reserves under her belt. She decided on alpaca ranching as another career pursuit, settling closer to her in-laws’ family in Clark County.
At one time the alpaca herd topped 120, but because her husband has an off-farm job and her reserve duty assignments have required her to be away periodically in recent years, the number has dropped to 17.
Now the goal is to grow the flock once again in 2023. One new baby alpaca named “Molly Beauxbally” was welcomed in 2022.
“We’re hoping to have a handful more next spring, and we will expand the herd size from purchasing from other farmers as well,” Maynard said.
The newcomers will be joining others with interesting names like Rocket Man, a female dubbed Stretch for her long neck and legs and an Angora goat named Sam Elliott. Another alpaca is named Red for her deep burgundy wool.
Summer camps will return this year, now expanded from kindergarten through 8th grade – about 200 attended last year. An afterschool program may reappear next fall.
However tempting it might seem to hug or nuzzle on the soft, wooly animals, they probably wouldn’t like it as much as we would.
“Alpacas are curious but standoffish,” she said. “They are prey animals. We treat ours like livestock. We don’t handle them daily, we handle them once a month to make sure everyone is happy and healthy.”
Given the recent rains, Maynard encourages visitors to carpool to Saturday’s event to minimize driving and parking in the pastures, and pets are not allowed. Signs will also be posted for visitors’ instruction and safety – please take notice and follow them, she said.
Maynard said she loves living in Kentucky, and in Richmond, for its abundance of things to do and a welcoming, small-town feel.
“I would love to thank Richmond for allowing us to thrive into our tenth year and I’m looking forward to growing for another 10 and then some, together!” she said.
If you go:
River Hill Ranch 10th Anniversary Celebration
1-5 p.m. Sat., Dec. 10
680 River Hill Dr., Richmond
Come to the ranch Saturday to view and enjoy ranching and wool education stations and demos, snap some pics at an alpaca and llama selfie station, have photos/Christmas list chats with Santa and Mrs. Claus, play ranch games, have pony rides and embark on a scavenger hunt with prizes.
The first 50 cars get a $2 off coupon for the shop. Admission is $20/vehicle or $10/person. Pets are not allowed at the event and carpooling is encouraged.
To learn more about the ranch, visit their Facebook page or http://www.riverhillranch.us.
(source: Alvina Maynard, River Hill Ranch)
- Alpacas’ wool comes in 16 official colors and is very versatile. It can be made into hats, dresses, sweaters and more.
- The alpacas’ wool is graded into six categories, one being the finest grade, often made into cozy scarves or shawls because it’s soft, but a bit more delicate. More durable mid-grade wool is often used for socks and gloves, and lower grade wool still feels soft, but works best for items like upholstery and rugs.
- Alpacas typically only have a single baby per pregnancy, and the gestational period is 11 ½ to 12 months!
- Alpacas are curious yet somewhat skittish animals and in nature are considered prey animals.
- They can live to be in their twenties!