– Shepard’s Creek Alpaca invited the public to interact with alpacas
– The farm has hosted over 100 alpacas over the years
– Many visitors don’t know anything about alpacas before coming to the farm
A light breeze sent cut grass flying through the air and made barn doors creak. Inside these barn doors was a small herd of alpacas. They nibbled on hay from the small hands of children, who traveled to the farm with their families.
On Sept. 23 and 24, alpaca farms across the country set up refreshments, hayrides and other features to attract the public on National Alpaca Farm Days. The Sephard’s Creek Alpacas farm celebrated the holiday by inviting the public to meet the alpacas, make crafts, shop in the store and learn about the farm.
In 2003, Barb and Marc Sodums were looking to start a farm and stumbled upon alpacas. They began researching the animal and soon after found themselves with a herd of their own. Being a teacher, Barb dove right into researching alpacas.
“I have a library,” she said. “We had to be educated. We went to seminars and we travelled to big farms and found out how to do things, had people teach us and I have many books.”
Shepard’s Creek Alpacas is a breeding farm. Barb and Marc have owned over 100 alpacas since 2003. They bring the alpacas to competitions, where they compete for awards for the quality of the alpacas. Barb said she and Marc sell alpacas to people who want to start their own breeding farm or just want to have alpacas on their farm.
“That’s actually sort of our thing is starting new farms and teaching because I’m a teacher so, by trade, I like that.”
On any day at the farm, Barb and Marc get up in the morning and spend about 45 minutes feeding the alpacas, cleaning the barn and filling the water buckets, then let them out into the pasture for the day. Marc said the alpacas will spend the day coming in and out of the barn and grazing in the pasture.
“They spend some time out in the pasture, then they come in and lay around and chew their cud, cool off if it’s hot, lay in front of the fans if it’s humid,” he said. “Then they go back out again.”
At night, Marc said he and Barb close off part of the pasture to bring the alpacas closer to the barn, where the alpacas will sleep on and off throughout the night.
As a breeding farm, there are a number of pregnant alpacas on the farm at any given time. Shepard’s Creek Alpacas currently hosts one pregnant alpaca and two newborns. Part of the weekend’s event was to name the 10-day-old baby alpaca. Visitors could fill out a slip with their idea for a name and their phone number. If their name idea was chosen, they would win a stuffed animal made from alpaca fleece.
On National Alpaca Farm Days, visitors like Jessie Walker, 21, came to Shepard’s Creek Alpacas with little knowledge about the animal. Walker said she attended National Alpaca Farm Days because she wanted to learn more about the animals and see them up close.
“My favorite part was having the opportunity to go into the pen with the alpacas,” Walker said. “We got to pet them and feed them hay, and just watch them interact with each other. They are really funny creatures.”
This educational and discovery aspect of visiting the farm is the reason, Barb said, she and Marc enjoy hosting days like National Alpaca Farm Days.
“They’re still kind of unusual animals,” Barb said. “There are a lot of people that come here and say they’ve never been up close to one. They know what they are, which, back in 2003, people had no idea what they were. It was very funny. People would just come and be amazed.”