Sugarloaf Alpaca Company sits along the old “Carolina Road” that runs from Gettysburg to Monticello and on to the Carolina’s. When George Washington rode by in 1756 he saw lush pastures, orchards and acres of row crops. Not a single alpaca did he see.
Only a few things have changed in the 240 years since our First President rode by. The pastures, orchards and row crops all remain though with a few more houses scattered across the landscape. And near where George Washington slept, (he slept everywhere) our 40 acres of prime farmland now graze nearly 100 huacaya and suri alpacas of all colors. When we purchased our farm in the fall of 2003, six months AFTER we purchased 12 alpacas in Oregon, rows of field corn had just been harvested. We started from scratch and have grown into Frederick County’s largest alpaca breeder and one of the largest in Maryland.
Starting a farm from scratch can be a challenge. From farm selection, site design and on-farm circulation to designing the proximity of the house to the barn, selecting contractors, laying out pastures, , waterer locations, fan type, size and number, pasture seed mix, fencing and gates, considerations for wind, sun, rain and snow and a myriad of other tasks; the list was intimidating. However, when we sit in our pastures with the alpacas grazing quietly nearby it seems worth all the effort. We’ve learned a lot through that process and are happy to share our experience with others – as others did with us. What follows is a short rundown of the things we learned in developing our infrastructure. When you come to our farm you’ll gain access to our ‘lessons learned’ and things to avoid.