Meadowview Alpaca Farm
As with many other baby boomers, retirement was not far on the horizon. We had dedicated long hours to the education system, but now it was time to consider our health and well-being. It was time to slow down and smell the flowers.
When our three children were young, we spent many holidays in surroundings only nature could provide. We enjoyed the quiet whisperings of the woods, the antics of wild animals as we quietly observed them at play, the calming effects of waves lapping the shores of Lake Superior and even the howling of strong November winds across vast waters. We had a secret desire to return to nature and live off the land. Somehow, the busy modern day activities kept us anchored to contemporary life in the city. We enjoyed our time working with children in the schools. We had fun engaging in a variety of organised and unorganised activities with our children: hockey, skiing, water sports and many others.
Now the children were grown. Health issues were taking precedence. Retirement was fast approaching. It was time to pursue that dream of long ago.
As luck would have it, we found a beautiful farm nestled beside a small inland lake not far from the Trans-Canada highway, just east of Sault Ste. Marie. It was perfect. It had everything we could wish for: beautiful oak and maple forests, pastures and hay fields, waterfront, a magnificent garden site and best of all, an enormous old barn probably built at the turn of the century. Much to everyone’s surprise, we bought the farm! The next question would be... What do we raise?
The process of selecting alpaca farming was actually a simple one. After retiring to the country, we decided to have a few animals, making our dream property a hobby farm. We also wished to grow and raise most of our own food. We bought a calf from George, a local farmer. His first sage advice was ‘Now Denise don’t get attached to him, just call him Steak.’ Steak looked lonely by himself so we soon added Hamburger, as a buddy. To make a long story short, after hand raising and nursing these two babies, we thoroughly enjoyed their antics. How could we send our pets to the slaughter house? So much for the idea of raising cattle. Obviously, we had to find an animal that had its value in something other than meat, hence the alpaca.
Alpacas are quiet, gentle and easy to handle. They require little to no prior knowledge of farming. Raised for their fibre, they are ideal for the animal lover. This peaceful animal has a very interesting social behaviour. As animals go, dogs bark, cats meow, cows moo, but alpacas hum. Their gentle hum can be heard as you enter their pen. Curious in nature, they will peacefully approach visitors, particularly children. It is not unusual to sit in the middle of the pen and be surrounded by them. Although they don’t love to be petted, they do enjoy interacting with others.
It quickly became very obvious that this was the animal for us: an animal raised for its cashmere-like fibre, peaceful in nature, requiring a small acreage (8 alpacas to an acre), eating small amounts of food, little vet involvement, adapted to our climate. What a great animal to own! During the winter months, alpacas develop a full fleece giving them the appearance of teddy bears. They come in 22 natural colours, a desirable asset in the fashion industry. This lustrous fibre is highly sought after for high-end garments.
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Meadowview Alpaca Farm was pleased to participate in Season 5 of the hit show Amazing Race Canada, hosted by Jon Montgomery.
Our team worked tirelessly in collaboration with Tourism Sault Ste Marie and the producers of the Amazing Race, bringing everything together. We've beeen presented with many wonderful opportunities over the years, but this opportunity was truly AMAZING!
Catherine, the producer of “The Amazing Race Canada,” contacted Meadowview Alpaca Farm in 2017 for an extremely amazing and unique opportunity. While working closely with the Economic Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie, she was referred to us. Catherine originally requested that the racing teams shear the fleece of an alpaca. The conversation was short-lived when I (Denise) informed her that the idea could be very harmful to an alpaca. The process of shearing can be very dangerous without training.
Instead, I recommended that the racers take an alpaca through an obstacle course. Six to eight weeks prior to filming, the halter training of the alpacas began. To help with the process, we enlisted the help of some friends. The challenge was to have the alpacas become comfortable going through a variety of obstacles accompanied by a perfect stranger. The newly shorn alpacas selected for the obstacle course were curious and learned the ropes very quickly. They soon had their fifteen minutes of national, television fame!
The act of naming the alpacas is a unique feature of Meadowview Alpaca Farm. In trying to use the alpaca’s birth mother’s name in the naming process, we are better able to remember who the mother is without constantly having to refer to the detailed breeding records. It is also a good way to communicate with the alpacas who genuinely seem to respond to their names. The focus of Meadowview Alpaca Farm is quality fibre so breeding practices are strictly controlled to take into account genetics and fibre information. In doing so, we are able to enhance the overall micron count (fibre quality) of the herd.
Charlie Brown is a unique alpaca stud who will be four years old this summer. His birth was a blessing as he was the first C-Section delivery for Meadowview Alpaca Farm’s veterinarian. He was born from the famous lineage of CPeruvian Daniel 111 who is known in eastern Canada for the many champion offspring he produced. Charlie Brown’s mother, Daniel’s Promise (a Daniel daughter), was in distress as a ring had formed around her birthing canal, not allowing it to expand. Following her surgery, complications developed and Promise was treated intravenously. I (Denise) spent the night in the barn to make sure the intravenous would remain in position. During this time, it was also necessary to bottle feed Charlie Brown. By the next evening, Daniel’s Promise had passed on.
Isabelle is very special as she will willingly stand in as a surrogate mother to orphaned alpacas. Normally, alpacas bond strongly to their own young. For Isabelle, meeting and nurturing Charlie Brown was as natural as giving birth to him herself.
Macarthur is a rare alpaca stud who is almost fourteen years old. He was purchased in a group of five males who were being unloaded and he was regarded as a “big disappointment” due to the quality of his fibre count. He had a micron count of approximately 26 which is considered too high for a quality male stud. We recognized it as being the result of his diet. When an alpaca is fed a high-protein diet it can “blow out” the fibre, which means elevating the micron count. Recognizing this I set out to provide Macarthur with an improved protein diet which allowed his micron count to drop below 25. Our expertise in creating diet plans for the herd at Meadowview Alpaca Farm helps the alpacas maintain a fibre micron count of quality while keeping the herd healthy.
Macarthur is now passing on his impressive genetic heritage, as his grand-sires are Coyo and Destiny on one side, and Jolimont Peruvian Alpamayo on the other.
Lucas has often been described as “perfect”. His perfect fibre, soft and dense, with perfect structure is uniquely combined with his charming personality. He will be thirteen this summer and is of a full-bodied Peruvian Champion stock. He produced quality herdsires and terrific dams for ten years so his genetics are strong within the herd. He won reserve champion in 2010 at the Navan Alpaca Show. Wade Gease, an Alpaca Owners Association certified senior alpaca judge and training instructor, commented that “Lucas maintained great fineness, character, and density for a four-year-old male.” This long-term maintenance of quality fibre characteristics, high-frequency crimp, and fineness are his signature traits as a herdsire. His friendly demeanor and mild temperament make him an enjoyable alpaca to visit with.
Lucas also has passed on the famous genetics inherited from his grand-sire CPeruvian Daniel.
Bobby Lee was born to a long list of alpacas with the same “Lee” sound in their name. Rosalie is the daughter of Allie who came from a farm with a well-known reputation in Alberta known as “Adventure Alpacas”.
On a cool, overcast, windy day in May, the alpacas were out in the field after having been shorn the previous weekend. Two or three girls were about to give birth so I was prepared with a towel in hand. Allie began to give birth. I went over to Allie to observe quietly. Newborn alpacas are susceptible to hypothermia, so I used the towel on Allie’s newborn Rosalie. While I was focused on Allie and her baby, I was not paying attention to Micah. Micah came right up beside Allie and dropped her cria in close proximity to Rosalie. Caught off guard, I started to rub this new cria with the towel but quickly stopped, as this would transfer the scent of one cria to the other. But it was too late as the scent was already transferred. Micah’s newborn male, who was named Prince Valiant, was up and running within fifteen minutes of birth, while Rosalie remained laying down in her birth spot, trembling. Allie was not concerned with her newborn daughter and instead was distracted by Prince Valiant who was running leaps and bounds. Much to Micah’s consternation, Allie chased after Prince Valiant as if he were her own.
I acted fast and put a halter on Allie so that she could be isolated to bond with her newborn, Rosalie. Regardless of this attempt at forming a bond between mother and daughter, Allie refused to tend to her young and Rosalie became hypothermic. I brought Rosalie into the house to run her a hot bath and feed her. She slept under a heat lamp to keep her warm. The veterinarian, Keith, came by the next day to see if he had any magic solutions to convince Allie to care for her own cria. Keith decided to extract a solution from Allie’s uterus and slather it onto Rosalie to convince her that her daughter was her own. However, by this time, Allie was convinced Prince Valiant was hers and refused to tend to Rosalie. It was necessary to separate Allie from Micah and her cria for the summer, so the girls were divided into two groups. Interestingly, nine weeks later, when the groups were reunited, Allie still recognized Prince Valiant and managed to convince him to nurse from her as well as his mom Since then, I has been referred to as Rosalie’s true mother. Rosalie has no fear of humans. She went on to birth her own daughter, Annalie, who will be four this summer. Annalie’s friendly disposition is beyond affectionate. She mimics her mother and is very welcoming to human visitors. Other cria born the same summer watched Annalie with great interest. As it turned out, Annalie had much influence on the young females and now they all love to have visitors.
Rosalie’s genetics include RGA MIGUEL, son of SNOWMASS LEGACY’S GOLDEN BOY, and CPeruvian Daniel on her sire’s side. No wonder she and Macarthur are magic together!