Friday, October 21, 2011

The End of an Era

It seems like just yesterday that I met my first alpaca and fell head over heels in love with that endearing creature.  That was in 1997, and in 1998 we purchased our first 6.
What a wonderful lifestyle it has been, and what a whirlwind of activity.  I remember saying that I didn't want to work with the fiber, I just wanted to enjoy the alpacas and their husbandry.  HAHAHAH.  I got my hands in that first fleece and knew I had to learn to spin.  Today I design and spin my own line of yarns:  Calliope Yarns from Fiberfabrications, which I sell at the Bellingham Farmers Market.  I am also going to get my Etsy site up and running again.  It is listed under ALPACALADY.

So, today I look out my window at the barn, and there are no alpacas there.  At one time, I had 60 out there.  When my husband died last year, I had 27.  I had to make a decision about my future.  At the age of 61, and living alone, did I want to put in all that work?  Did I want to risk getting hurt in the barn and no one knowing I was missing for a day or so?  Did I want to spend my retirement in a scooter chair?
Nope, not me.
Suddenly, the alpacas became a liability.  On top of that, my grief prevented me from giving them the care they deserved.
I guess I have accomplished the impossible:  I have retired from the alpaca business and sold all of my alpacas.  Well, sold is not entirely correct.  You've heard of Creative Financing?  I employed some really creative sales techniques.  One female went for comparable services at a local Beauty Salon!  Now who doesn't need that?  Another for marketing materials.  The rest have been sold or bartered or given away.
Fortunately, the last 14 went to some wonderful people who have become the dearest of friends.  They have done so much work for me around the farm, and will continue to help me when I need them.  And, they are only about 8 miles away, so I can go visit them whenever I want.

I am writing this with a very heavy heart.  I've had a long time to prepare for this, and the time is right.  However, it's not just the alpacas being gone from their fields.  It's a part of me that has been sliced off and sent away.  I was so good as an alpaca breeder.  I watched the quality of my herd improve each year as I made breeding decisions.  I had always wanted to be a Veterinarian, and through the alpacas, I was able to almost reach that goal.  My vets knew that I was very self sufficient, so when they received an emergency call from me, one of them would leave what he/she was doing and race to my farm.  One day, during a very difficult birth, 4 vets arrived!!!  I miss my friendships with those vets.

In town, I'm still known as the Alpaca Lady.  When my husband died, I made another decision to close my store.  Being alone, I did not want people dropping by any time, wanting a tour and to shop.  This summer, people still arrived, getting out of their cars with their cameras, and then being so disappointed when I told them we were no longer in business.

Well, I'm going on a bit too much here.  What I'm trying to say is, this has been a huge part of my personality.  It proved that I could take on a farm business and make a success of it.  And now it is over.  Yes, I have new bridges to cross and lands to explore.  I was darn good at what I did, just as I was in the business world.  So, World, what's next for me?

Monday, March 7, 2011


I am going to continue posting to this blog, but it won't be very frequent. I have sold all but three of my alpacas. Well, sold isn't exactly the correct word. Placed, bartered and sold. Eight of them are going to some folks I have been mentoring, and in the meantime we have become really good friends. I just love them. Their farm is Muddy Waters Farm. They also raise goats and chickens, and make the most amazing wine and beer.

I am going to stay "on" as their consultant/midwife. Since all three of them work, I have offered to be on baby watch whenever a cria is due. I would miss that so much.

So, I'm very excited. I will have the pleasure of still being a part of the alpaca community, yet have my freedom from caring for animals. I can take off for a visit whenever I want, go on trips, vacations; wow.

I'm making plans to lease the land to organic farmers so I won't have to maintain the pastures.

This year, I am going to grow flowers and lettuce. Maybe a blueberry plant.

That's it.

Hmmmmmmm. We'll see.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Memorial Service For Alan Bylsma

A Celebration of the Life of Alan Bylsma will be held here at the farm on Februry 26, at 12:30 p.m.  This would have been
Alan's 61st Birthday.  Nothing would make him happier than a party in his honor, and in the place he loved most.
I hope you can all join us.  It might be  cold day, but the barn will be clean, and we will have heaters.  My friends will be preparing a warm and sumptious meal of soups and breads to nourish the body and soul.
Please bring a memento that reminds you of Alan, or a story to share.

The address is 601 West Third Street, Nooksack, Wa.  98276.
Do NOT trust Google Maps or Mapquest to get you here.  The directions are on the sidebar of this blog.
Plan to come early and stay late.