Six Years of Alpaca Farming

Six years ago this month, we moved onto our farm on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had bought our first alpacas starting in October of 2005, but were boarding them on the farms where we bought them since we had no farm.

Our farm when we first saw it, November 2005

We immediately started looking for a good farm for raising alpacas. We knew we wanted to be near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and when we found our farm right on the Parkway here at milepost 204, we knew it was perfect. Winter 2006 was as mild as the winter we are having this year, temperatures in January and the first half of February were in the 50’s. Looking at this great weather, we decided not to wait until spring but to come and get started preparing the farm for the alpacas to move in. The farm had not been lived on for at least 6 years before we moved here and there was only a small section of wood fence and an old barbed wire fence surrounding the property. Buildings consisted of our 100 year old (uninsulated) farmhouse, which is now the store, and a small storage shed near the store.
We arrived late on February 10, anxious to get started the next day. That night it snowed 6 inches. We woke to beautiful snow, which only increased our love of the beauty of our new farm. It also meant that getting the farm up and running just got harder. Our farmhouse/store is heated by gas, and we hadn’t had time to get the tank checked or filled yet. It receives its water from our springhouse, which not only had a broken pump, but was full of mud since the stream going out from the springhouse had been untended for years and had backed up. We did have electricity, though, and had a warm place to live since we had come to Virginia in our motorhome.

Cleaning out the stream

What followed was hard, but fun, work as we dug out the stream bed, cleaned in a house so cold the water froze as we mopped, and cleaned out the left behind debris in our one shed and around the farm.

Cleaning out the shed

Over the next few weeks and months, the weather improved quickly. We had fencing put in for our first few pastures, built sheds for the alpacas, started work on the barn (big enough to fit the motorhome inside during the winter as it was home for the first couple years).

Barn in progress

Our store once occupied just the first room of our farmhouse

Our first alpacas moved on to the farm in May of 2006 and we opened our store in June of that year. Throughout the year, we continued to move our alpacas onto the farm as we finished fencing in each new pasture and put up sheds. Our first cria, Sunrise Surprise was born on the farm in September and our last alpaca came home to the farm in December of 2006.

Moving in day for the girls during stormy weather

It has been a busy six years, full of wonderful experiences with the alpacas and all the great people we meet at the farm. Our farm now is home to over 40 alpacas, a three room store, a fiber art studio where we offer classes, and an online alpaca store. We never imagined that life would be this exciting when we first started raising alpacas, but we continue to look forward to new adventures every day.

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