“It’s all in the seeds”

Hi – it’s Aunt Geri – just finished spinning a wonderful hand-painted yarn.  As I was spinning, I thought of how spoiled we are with the clean, healthy fiber from Cliff House; and of a funny story that Jan (“Momma”) told me a while back.


Alfalfa is a legume hay. It’s high in protein which promotes luster in the alpaca’s fleece, but you sacrifice some softness. Because alpacas have strong molars they can chew the thick stems with no problem, and they love the taste.

I know a bit about seeds (over two thousand of them) from my job as a purity analyst at the Colorado State Seed Laboratory while in college.  Jan was recently researching some new sources for hay and got in touch with a hay “broker”.  I think he may have fallen off a horse at a young age.  Jan asks “What kind of hay is it?”.  He responds “It’s good hay!”.  Somewhat vague for a professional salesman.  “But, what KIND of hay is it?”  The broker replies “It’s grass – good hay”.  Well, I can just imagine the look on Jan’s face at this point – we have now established that it’s grass hay and not legume hay (such as alfalfa) and that it is GOOD.  Problem is, it could be “good” as in premium irrigated Orchard and Meadow Brome, or Timothy, or just “good” old dry land pasture grass!  Finally, Jan asks “Does it have seeds in it?”.  A phone call to his barn reveals “Yes – it’s full of seeds!”.  Now we may conclude that it’s “first cut” hay because this cutting has all the stems and seed heads.  Seriously – this is what you have to deal with when you’re trying to feed over a dozen animals the best food!


This is the Orchard grass we feed our alpacas. It’s blade is flat and broad, and it contains absolutely no seeds. This grass is irrigated which means the hay is not dusty, but the alpacas think it tastes pretty bland.

The fiber I just spun was full of seeds – I’m an admitted perfectionist and seeds make me crazy!  It’s really pathetic because the fiber itself is magnificent – like a down comforter, but the seeds have caused the fiber to form “noils”, which are small clumps of fiber that disrupt lace-weight yarn.  We remove as many as we can and live with the rest – the yarn is super soft with a wonderful loft and a somewhat furry, lumpy texture.

Horse Hay

This horse hay is a combination of Meadow Brome, wheat grass and cheat grass. It’s cut with a small amount of alfalfa. The horses love the taste of this, as it’s an early harvest of the first cutting. Notice the seeds within the hay.

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1 Response to “It’s all in the seeds”

  1. Aunt Geri says:

    Did I fail to send you a pic of the yarn – whoa is me!

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