adventure of discovery began sometime around 2004. Our
first real encounter with Alpacas was at the Farm Show in
Harrisburg. We really didn't have much of an
impression other than, "Hmm, we didn't know people actually
raise these kinds of animals." Our interest quickly
Then on a family trip to the New Jersey Shore, we found
ourselves looking for something new to do. The hotels
there always have interesting magazines featuring new places
to dine and other places to visit. One of the
advertisements featured an Alpaca farm in the Cape May area.
Springs Farm) It seemed like an interesting way to
spend the afternoon.
On arrival, we were met by Warren Nuessle, a retired
gentleman, who was happy to spend time talking with us about
his farm and the Alpacas. We had another one of those
"Hmm" moments. This seemed to the a logical kind of
thing to do maybe when we retire. He didn't look too
stressed or over-worked. Then we went around to the
house, where in the back, they had a farm store set up in a
glassed in sunroom off the back deck. Barbara, his
wife, was very helpful to Jo, who was interested in the yarn
for knitting. We came away with a very positive
feeling about the idea of raising Alpacas ourselves.
But wait a minute. I bet these people were loaded, and
this was just a rich man's hobby. Maybe...
the idea began to fade...but not completely.
the Fall of 2006, we saw an advertisement for an Open Barn
at a local Alpaca farm (Almosta
Ranch Alpacas) during
Alpaca Days. There we met Kathy Kenworthy, the
farm owner. Kathy is a traveling infusion nurse by
day, and had started her Alpaca farming just a few years
before we met her. Now we had a completely different
view of things. Here was someone closer to our age and
station in life, doing this farming thing while keeping up a
"real" job. "Hmm" again. We spent a good part of
the afternoon trying to get a better feel for the real day
to day side of raising Alpacas. Now we started asking
questions like, "What do you do with them?" and "Is this
just a hobby or is it a business?" So now the wheels began
to visit another local farm (White
Lightning Alpacas) where we met Dane Burkhart and Ann
Lemmon. We visited for quite a while, gaining a better
insight into daily operations. We began to see the
pattern that everyone has a different way of approaching the
business. Yes, by now we realized it could be a
business. Not a get rich scheme by any means, but
something that had truly captured our imagination.
conversations continued for several months into 2007.
Ultimately, we could not come to grips with the simple
question, "Is this more than we can handle?" Was this
the next big step in our life? How would we get there
several months sitting on the fence, but the idea just
wouldn't go away. In July we traveled to visit my
sister who lives in Oregon. After spending several
days seeing the typical tourist stuff, we found ourselves
with a day and no agenda. With a very little bit of
Alpacanation.com, we found several farms within day
tripping distance. With trusty GPS in hand, we were
able to visit about 5-6 farms that day. They ranged
from retired Mom and Pop operations to big business
operations. Again, we found a multitude of ideas of
how to go about this business. But we were thinking WE could
problem though...we didn't have a farm.
make 110% sure we really WANTED to do this, we decided to
take some baby steps. Upon returning home, we went
back to Almosta Ranch Alpacas and started talking with Kathy
Kenworthy. In all of the people we had talked to so
far, she seemed to be someone we could feel comfortable
with. Our baby step plan involved buying a Cria, or baby
Alpaca, and board it on her farm while we "learned the
ropes". This would give us a good reason to keep
visiting the farm and asking even more questions.
Health Day" became another turning point in our learning
experience. Now mind you, Kathy has about 30 Alpacas
and at that time one very large Llama. We volunteered
to come and help during this monthly process including
weighing, inoculations and general healthcare. We
survived. Tired, dirty, but still filled with
I think the
clincher to the idea came the day we found out that our CPA
was in the business...in a big way. It seems that
Brion Smoker had seen the light and taken advantage of a low
interest farm loan to buy a whole herd and had started a new
business himself (A
Suri Farm, ltd.) If he thought it was a good idea,
we must be on the right track.
search for an appropriate property began, slowly at first.
But then as the Spring of 2008 came around, momentum began
to increase. By early Summer, we had visited a dozen
or so farms after viewing hundreds on line. Then the
planets seemed to align, as our lease on
my other business
was to come to an end in August. We finally found a
property that allowed us to bring the business back home,
keep our two sons in their same school district and have
appropriate space for Alpacas.
We were on