Membership Monday with Black Barn Alpacas
Membership Monday with Black Barn Alpacas

Covid brought us all many different challenges, but for Black Barn Alpacas, it brought happiness in the form of pronking, humming, and new fluffy friends. Since relocating to Maryland, their herd has flourished to approximately 100 alpacas with around 20-40 crias annually. Looking ahead to 2024, they eagerly anticipate embracing agritourism, a growing business within the alpaca community. 

Why Alpacas?

The idea for Black Barn Alpacas was born at the beginning of the pandemic when we were in a transitional period with one of our businesses. We had a beautiful 16-acre ranch in Texas at the time. Though Travis and I had previous experience with cattle and horses, we were interested in a more sustainable animal. In our ranch discussion, alpacas were mentioned as we always thought they were adorable. Once we dedicated ourselves to learning more about alpacas, we became hooked and wanted to dive right into working with them! The fiber realm also translates nicely into my personal professional background of interior design and textiles, while my husband's extensive experience in the jewlery industry developed an eye with critical attention to detail.

How did you get into the world of alpacas?

Once we decided to learn more about alpacas, Travis contacted several local Texas alpaca ranches to offer volunteer work in exchange for learning how to care for the animals. Travis also committed himself to endless independent research regarding health, care, breeding, fleece, and beyond. AOA was an incredibly helpful resource starting out - from studying the animals to connecting us with other farms. We started by purchasing around 10 alpacas, and quickly realized we wanted to commit ourselves entirely to these amazing animals!

Tell us about your farm. 

We are a working alpaca ranch located on 50 acres in the scenic and lush landscape of Finksburg, Maryland. We specialize in breeding premium quality gray and black alpacas, producing around 20-40 crias annually. We currently have around 100 alpacas and growing. We focus primarily on alpacas, but also have 1 horse, 6 dogs, and 5 cats (mostly rescues). The health and well-being of all our animals are always at the forefront for us; our animals are our children! We introduced agritourism to educate others about the countless benefits of these amazing animals. We were open to the public for just under a year in Texas and became a popular tourist destination just south of San Antonio. We relocated to Maryland in July of ’23 and look forward to reopening our doors to agritourism beginning April 1st of 2024, complete with educational tours and events, an alpaca shop showcasing endless alpaca products, and encouraging the connection of our community to alpacas.

What do you do with your animals' fiber?

We are in the early phases of working with fiber. We are excited to explore our local fiber processing communities and engage our visitors with basic fiber education, dying activities, and more. As a professional interior designer, my goal is to also design custom and sustainable home goods including pillows, throw blankets, and area rugs. Over the last five years in the interior design industry, alpaca fiber has become more and more present through textiles and goods, which is an exciting focus for both industries.

What is one of the most memorable moments with your alpacas?

This is tough because every moment with them is memorable and cherished! If I had to pick one personally, it would be about my beloved Cream Puff. We were hired to sell her for another alpaca rancher, though I had grown incredibly attached to her while she stayed at our Texas ranch. She would run to me when I called for her, give kisses, and allow cuddling and scratches. Though she went to a very loving and kind owner, she apparently was not sociable at all for many months. When we decided to move from Texas to Maryland, I called the new owner to ask if I could come say goodbye to Cream Puff before we left the state. Her owner was so gracious in saying that Cream Puff and I belong together that I should buy her back and take her to Maryland. I gladly did just that, and Cream Puff and I couldn’t be happier together! She is a very, very special alpaca to me.

Why is being a member of AOA and an affiliate important?

AOA is a very important staple to us in many ways. Firstly, AOA was an incredible resource in establishing our herd, where we chose to focus on producing premium gray and black alpacas. Travis studied certificates, genealogy, histograms, genotyping, and more to hone in on our breeding program. Though we have not been able to attend any shows yet, we look forward to competing in future AOA shows. We also greatly appreciate the connection to the alpaca community that AOA has introduced us to. 

Do you have any advice for new alpaca owners?

Yes: buy a big ranch! You will quite easily be hooked and end up having many more than you originally planned! I once read another rancher who said, “Alpacas are like potato chips, you can’t just have one” and we couldn’t agree more! Also be very mindful of what your purpose with alpacas is, so you can develop the right herd for your own needs and goals for everyone’s benefit.

For those curious to learn more about Black Barn Alpacas and follow their journey, visit their Facebook, Instagram, or website.

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