My husband Mike and I had spent most of a Saturday working side by side, mending a gate, cleaning and oiling saddles, and just simply taking care of things on our place. We were soaking in the spring air, enjoying each other's company, and watching our three children run and play contentedly. I spoke up and said, "This is what I wish we could do every day. I'd love to be here, working with my hands, working with you, doing what needs to be done, and not having to drive to work somewhere." He nodded and replied, "People do live that way... it's called farming."
That day and that conversation, and countless prior musings of a similar nature, were the impetus for us to pursue a life with alpacas. A phone call to AOBA, a cover-to-cover study of the 2001 Farm and Ranch Guide, a day trip to Banner Elk, North Carolina to meet Teri Phipps of Fireweed Alpacas, and finally, the financial and moral support of two sisters, all culminated in our first purchase in December 2001.
Since then, my sisters have grown their portion of our herd, and have become hands-on alpaca owners under the name Appalachian Journey Farm. Mike and I have also grown our portion of the herd, as well as adding a fourth child to our happy home. Our older children have all taken a turn in the show ring with our alpacas, competing in youth performance classes, and learning life lessons outside the classroom. I have traveled to eight states showing in halter and fleece classes, achieving the goal of validating our males as herdsire quality. We continue to grow, plan, and incorporate alpacas into the vision of our family's future.
It would be impossible to know how many times I've answered the question, "What's an alpaca?" What I do know is that I've never tired of answering it, and I enjoy the curiosity this animal evokes. Our children have gotten proficient at explaining what they are, what you do with them, and where they come from. I think it's fun for them to be involved with such interesting creatures.
I enjoy, too, the animals themselves. There is a quiet calm to sitting in the pasture with them, and joyfulness in watching the youngsters run and jump and wrestle. It's fascinating to observe and interpret the nuances of herd behavior. My time spent with them is a respite from the demands and noises of the workday world. I'm grateful to be able to care for them, and am so happy we've made the choices that have led us along this path. Come visit, and see if you would like to begin an adventure of your own.
Peace to you-- Lara Durham