The question we get asked the most when people come to visit our farm is always some version of, "What made you decide to raise alpacas?" It seems like it would be a simple question to answer, but the truth is that it is a bit of a longer story. It was less of a planned decision when we moved to the farm and more of a journey over time.
It started with a move out of the rush of the suburbs into the quiet of the country in 2004. It seemed like all we needed to re-set and focus on what we craved most. A re-frame if you will. We wanted more time. We wanted less busy and less obligated. Our days moved from demanding corporate jobs that kept us late and rolled into overly-scheduled, polite social obligations and a self-inflicted pressure to constantly be busy. We craved more peace and more calm and big change was necessary to get there.
We moved to 12 acres in Iron Station, NC only about 20 miles from where we were living in the suburbs. While the move should have been enough on its own, what we didn’t realize was how hard we would fall for the farm. All of our time outside of work was dedicated to making the farm our own.
When we arrived, we had no animals except our dogs. We added llamas and horses all adopted from local rescues as well as a few goats and chickens to our new farm and quickly learned about livestock care and both the joy and heartache the animals could bring. Late in 2006 we also added a child of our own to the farm.
We became acutely aware of the impact we have on our environment and how important that would be to how we would move forward in our farming practices. By the end 2009, Mike further committed to the farm leaving his corporate job and Good Karma Ranch and the business of alpacas began.
Why alpacas specifically? Aside from their obvious beauty and calm nature, alpacas fit perfectly into the environmentally conscious farming practices we had already begun to incorporate including running the farm on solar power, relying heavily on rotational grazing as well as composting practices. Alpacas also produce a renewable fiber while having no negative impact on our small acreage.
Today we focus our business on raising light-colored Huacaya alpacas. Our horses have since passed away and we now leave chickens to our fellow farmer friends. We still have that llama we brought home in 2005 and have a few goats again, but our focus is on alpacas and on genetics that continue to advance our herd and constantly improve the quality of our animals and their fiber. We focus on the breed standards of the Alpacas Owners Association and bring in genetics from the largest, most-advanced farms in the country. We mentor other farmers as they begin their journey into raising alpacas while we continue to educate ourselves on the latest research from the alpaca community.
We have grown to include not only breeding and selling high quality, registered alpacas, but also focusing on the use of their renewable, soft, hypoallergenic fiber for clothing and home goods. We gently harvest their fiber every April causing them no harm and work with an alpaca fiber cooperative to have the fiber processed into textiles like socks, hats, gloves, scarves, throw blankets and more. We work with companies to access high-end garments produced out of alpaca fiber in Peru. Fine pashminas and sweaters are still made mainly in Peru and we want our guests to experience these items as well. No chemicals or harsh cleaning products are needed to clean and prepare the fiber prior to turning it into yarn. Moving from farm to fashion with alpaca fiber is sustainable, renewable and low-impact to the environment.
Now in 2020, while we have long since figured out how much our re-frame has afforded us in peace and calm we have also realized the importance of sharing our farm with others. There really is nothing like the feeling when close friends ask to escape here for a bit alone or with their families to sit with the animals and have a re-frame of their own.
We also love visitors that come to our farm for tours, yoga, and other events to learn about and interact with alpacas. We love sharing our farm affording them a glimpse into raising alpacas and a glimpse into the joy of their personalities. Having the farm store both on the farm as well as online allows others to enjoy the benefits of alpaca fiber for themselves, taking home a small piece of the peace and calm we created in our little spot in the country.
When people ask why we got into this, I usually start the answer with a bit of a laugh because what we have gained from this adventure is really way beyond anything that we had in mind at the time. I'd love to tell you we had a grand plan, but sometimes you just have to start something that feels right in your gut and keep moving and growing.