Rocky Run Alpacas
Updated version of article published in Spring 1991 issue of Alpacas Magazine
Since moving to our farm in suburban Philadelphia in 1977, we have been involved with the love and nurture of a family of five children. We have raised assorted types of farm animals, including Aberdeen Angus cattle, ponies and horses for fox hunting, pygmy goats, chickens, and a pet llama. To give the children responsibility and caring, all of them were required to participate in farm chores. Each child learned how dependent the animals were on them for their care, feeding and general well being. However, with three children married and two in college, our nest was empty.
We were looking for an animal that was more docile and tractable, yet interesting, than those we had previously raised. While Bud was a practicing orthopedic surgeon and has severe time restrictions, it was important that Gail could manage alone if necessary. Although we were leaning toward llamas to achieve these goals, we had the good fortune to see some alpacas before we made an investment in a llama herd. It was love at first sight!
| Rocky Run Alpacas is
located in the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania,
where the setting and climate are amenable to raising alpacas. Our
winters are not unbearably long or cold, nor are our summers
unduly hot. Yet care must be given in all seasons to the welfare
and comfort of our alpacas.
Ours has been a working farm since the 18th
century and has a Pennsylvania stone farmhouse and a bank barn
which were built in 1793. When considering the needs of our
forthcoming herd of alpacas, we realized our beautiful old stone
barn needed complete restoration. Having located Recycle the Barn
People, our stone barn was razed and then raised. We had a
full-scale, old-fashioned barn raising to accomplish the task. It
is now complete with a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign symbolizing
love and constancy.
Our "love" barn has a totally modern interior designed
to accommodate our alpacas in separate stalls or larger spaces.
Each stall has a heated waterer for winter and fans for
ventilation in summer. In addition, the stone construction
provides insulation from cold in winter and from heat in the
summer. The stalls are all tamped clay covered with limestone
screenings. We find the combination
gives good drainage and ease of cleaning. For security, as well as
handling purposes, we bring in our alpacas at night. This affords us
an opportunity to handle the animals twice daily for feeding,
checking, caressing and kissing. Hay storage is in the upper part of
our bank barn and can easily be dropped into a small feed storage
room. Besides the stalls and feed room in the lower part of the
barn, there is also a room with a brushed concrete floor for
vetting, grooming, washing and shearing.
Our present fencing is all split rail or white post and board with wire inside to keep out predators. As we expand our perimeter fields, we plan to use sixteen strand electric wire with added height for deer fencing.
Ours is strictly a "Mom and Pop" operation with enthusiastic support from our children. They share our fondness for these graceful, energetic animals. Because this is an avocation and not a vocation, Bud and Gail do all of the care, handling and training of the alpacas. The ease of care of these docile animals enables Gail to continue to pursue her other lifelong fields of interest in volunteering, sewing, golf, needlework, knitting and now spinning. We are interested in the quality, processing and ultimate end product of the wool and are working to increase our knowledge of this field. However, the business aspect of breeding, raising and selling top quality animals with good dispositions is our principal goal. Our farm is always open to visitors and interested school and community groups. We welcome any interested buyers or anyone who just want to talk "alpaca." We have been successful in the business of raising and selling of quality, manageable alpacas, and have always been richly rewarded by owning and working with them. They are fascinating to watch from our kitchen and study windows as they play and cavort or simply serenely graze in the field.
We are often reminded of a
question posed to one of our daughters after we had purchased our
pet llama 12 years ago: "What do you do with a llama?"
Her immediate response was, "What do you do with a dog? You
love it." And, indeed, we do love our alpacas, each and every
one, for their individuality, complexity and simplicity. We look
forward to many years of pleasure sharing our farm with our small,
graceful, gentle herd of alpacas.