I was honored to score an interview with Karen, from Cheshire Farm Alpacas. She is an absolutely wonderful lady with a great sense of humor and outlook on life. Read on to learn more about their farm and charming alpacas!
Describe your operation.
Cheshire Farm is all about alpacas! We fashioned the whole farm around a Peruvian Theme - That's why we also grow gourds and have chickens that lay colored eggs!
Gourds have long been used in Peru for bowls, vessels, hats, and even musical instruments.
Our chickens are araucanas which are believed to originally have been carried over from South America by the Araucanian Indians of Chile.
We also strive to be as self-sustaining as possible, which means we can maintain ourselves independently. Everything on the farm has a purpose and helps other things on the farm! One example: we grow our gourds over top of the chicken coops. The chickens fertilize the plants and the plants provide shade for the chickens. The same thing goes for our alpacas. They provide fiber, and fertilizer also.
Why did you choose to raise alpacas over other forms of agriculture?
We choose alpacas because fiber and yarn were things I was familiar with from my family. Also, my past experience of working in a hospital birthing center, helped very much with their breeding, birthing, and care.
What advice do you have for someone interested in raising alpacas?
If you are thinking of going the farm route I would highly recommend it. There are a few things to keep in mind with alpacas or any type of farm. Start slow until you are comfortable and feel confident of being able to handle everything. Remember farming is a 24/7 job and isn't over at the end of your 8 hour shift! (Something that at times I do have a problem with, but have learned to work around.)
I suggest getting an outside person interested or even partnered with you. That way you can actually be able to leave the farm ever once and a while! My husband, Michael, and I will be leaving the farm in December, together for a week. Not an uncommon thing for you to want to go on vacation, but this is the first time in five years we both have been able to leave the farm for a whole week! So make sure you have a care taker in training right off the bat!
The next thing is make sure you read, research and observe! Even experienced alpaca farmers are still learning as alpacas are fairly new to the United States. In 1980, the first 10 alpacas were brought into the U.S. Then, in 1983 and '84, larger-amounts of alpacas where imported to North America.
Needless to say a lot of my learning was done through my own personal experience. With that said alpacas are actually one of the easier livestock animals to care for. They require about the same amount of money as a large size dog with a little more maintenance. Just make sure their new home is already finished and waiting before you bring your first one home!
All the hard work does pay off in the end when you have your first cria (baby alpaca) born. A breathtaking highly recommended site to see! And within minutes it is trying to stand up and wobble around like Bambi!
Thank you so much for this interview! In parting, do you have any other fun alpaca tidbits for us?
Yes! September 29 and 30th is NAFD. National Alpaca Farm Day. It was started by alpaca farmers to help make the public knowledgeable of the alpaca industry and how the farms run. It is around same weekend every year, and as many alpaca farms as possible have a public open house of their farm on this weekend. Look for an alpaca farm near you!