Our interest in alpacas started in late 2002 when we read an article about them. Prior to that we did not even know that they existed. We visited our first farm that fall where we saw some suri alpacas. For the next couple of years, we visited other farms, attended shows and seminars, and learned as much as we could about alpacas. At the time, we lived in a suburb of Chicago.
The next major step occurred in late 2004 when we relocated to Marshfield, Wisconsin. We worked with a realtor and finally purchased a 6 acre farm that already had llamas on it. The move was not completed until early 2005 when the house in Illinois was finally sold. We fulfilled our dream of moving out of the city and living where there was open space. After getting somewhat settled, we resumed our investigation of the alpaca business, still not sure it was the right investment for us. We were also getting to know some of the nearby alpaca farms.
The plunge was made in March 2006. We attended the Spring Fling Alpaca Show in Neenah, Wisconsin. We only planned a day trip. However, late in that day, we spoke with someone who had a 2 small yearlings for sale– one male and one female. With encouragement from some other owners, we approached that person and told her we were interested. Since we were about to enter a serious transaction and it was late in the day, we had to quickly find a motel room. The next day, we were told that the male had been sold, but the female (Emma) was available. The seller arranged for us to purchase another male that was owned by another farm. By early afternoon, we had entered into the transaction for two alpacas, one that we had not yet seen. (Harley) Late in the day, we went to the farm where Harley stayed and what a wonderful animal. We have since used him as a herd sire, and his first cria has hit the ground. (Brownstone) The weekend was completed and we were the proud owner of two alpacas.
The next step was the planning. We needed to design pens, design a business plan, and perform many other functions required in starting a business. Part of this was projecting growth. With only two alpacas, it would take a very long time to have a herd of any size. Therefore, we started looking for another female(s). After much looking, in three states, we purchased two more females, Glimmer Girl and Cinnamon Twist. We also purchased another male to keep Harley company.
The initial purchasing phase was complete. The next major phase was building the pens. We did much research as far as size, location, and necessary protection. The ground needed to be cleaned up and over 30 posts needed to be put up by hand. By late May, this was done. 2×4 woven wire fence also needed to be put up.
By late May, the grounds were ready. The males came first and the females a couple of weeks later. And of course, various adjustments needed to be made. Our first cria was Whisper who was born on Oct 4, 2006 to Cinnamon Twist. Our herd now consisted of 5. Cinnamon Twist was bred to Harley as our first breeding on our farm.
In May of 2007, we purchased a pregnant female in order to grow our herd faster. Our first real bad break came on Memorial Day 2007 when Glimmer Girl’s baby was stillborn. She was a beautiful black. Two days later, Black Satin gave birth to a male cria. Two days after being born, he was found laying on the ground, listless and almost dead. He was rushed to the veterinarian where he was revived in about 2 hours. This was a very rough week, but we had been christened and were no longer rookies.