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Adventures in Alpaca Farming

In July of 2017 we were headed up north for some activities related to our house build. It was Friday night and we were in no hurry to reach our destination. As we progressed along the two-lane country road, I saw a small sign for an alpaca farm near Cadillac, Michigan. I made a comment to my husband about stopping, and honestly, didn’t think much about it past mentioning my fascination with alpacas. My husband asked my son if he wanted to stop, and before I knew it, we were turning around and driving back to the alpaca farm.

We approached the farm not knowing what to expect. We had never encountered alpacas before, and we were so new to the animal that we barely even knew the difference between and alpaca and a llama.

The alpaca farm owner was a nice woman who greeted us with a warm hello and smile. She graciously took the time to introduce us to her herd, share alpaca basics with us, and answer our very newbie questions. We spent over an hour with her that night and left with a few alpaca balls and a very keen interest in raising alpacas.

Or at least my son and I had an interest in raising alpacas. My husband considered them to be large and expensive pets.

At this point, we owned property but didn’t have a barn or even a house. We wanted to start farming, but we hadn’t yet settled on what we would be raising.

That fateful day was a turning point for us as future farmers. I fell totally in love with the gentle alpaca temperament, their exterior beauty, and the fact that they were like no animal I had met before. They were totally and utterly unique.

When we finally arrived north to Buckley our extended family joked about us raising alpacas and thought the entire story was rather entertaining. My husband did too.

For the next year, we worked on building the house and barn, selling off downstate assets, and moving north. As we inched closer to our new life as farmers, we still didn’t know which direction we’d go with farm animals. My husband was researching cattle, sheep, goats, and anything else he could find information on. I stayed true to my love of the alpaca herd, but knew there was no way he was going to give in.

Then his Aunt made a visit to Crystal Lake Alpaca Farm in Frankfort. She brought back a brochure after visiting their boutique. She told me I should go visit when time allows. She said I would be impressed and she warned my husband about alpaca arriving to his farm.

While I was traveling for business, Jason’s Aunt dragged him back to Crystal Lake so he could see the alpacas first hand. And then something happened, and the alpacas piqued his interest. While I was gone, he also visited another local alpaca farm in Mesick. By the time I came home from my trip, he had been researching alpacas and discovered they offered a lot more than just serve as large pets.

The folks at Crystal Lake took the time to educate Jason about alpacas and the alpaca industry. Stephan spent many hours in person, on the phone, and in text with Jason. So much so, that we didn’t just buy a few alpacas. Oh no! We had to buy five alpacas so they could continue to have a herd. And we had to buy them from Stefan and Kristin.

Our First Alpacas Arriving Home

And thus began our adventure as alpaca farmers. We brought home Ariana, Anastasia, Kalista, and Sienna in January. Baby Adel will arrive in late March once she is ready to leave her mama. All of these ladies come with good pedigrees, awards, and top rank for fiber quality. And they come with a whole lot of cuteness and personality.

Ariana is also pregnant and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of her baby in May. She is the alpha of alpaca herd, is smart as a whip, and goes head to head with me when I’m with them. Ariana and I have a special understanding of each other. When I’m not in the barn, she is alpha. When I am in the barn, I am alpha and she will play nice with everyone else. I have Ariana’s number and always have had it. I’m an alpha woman myself and I understand her ways. And over the last few months, we’ve found our own groove. She allows me to be the pretend alpha, and in turn, she eats out of my hand and pretends to like me.

The rest of our ladies are fairly even-tempered. Anastasia always has a sense of calm and is happy and content to lay in her hay and graze. Kalista, and her daughter Sienna, hang close together in somewhat of a harmonious relationship. Sienna is still young and curious and tends to get herself in trouble more than she realizes.

I could not be happier with our alpaca adventure. I spend my days working from a home office with views of the barn and alpaca area. Each time I see the ladies strolling outside I can’t help but smile.

They are the first animals to arrive at the farm, and I’m confident, they are far from the last.

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