Tartan Acres Alpaca Farm

Welcome to the Farm

Posted by  //  September 16, 2016  //  Local Business

By Brenda Clark

Tartan Acres, LLC
Homer, NY
(315) 729-9358

Just north of Cortland, in the Town of Homer, lives a herd of  80 Alpacas who love to hang out in their pasture; about a dozen Guinea Hens who love to eat bugs; a couple of great cats who love a good ear scratch and to hunt mice; four chickens who love blueberries; and their humans, Ken and Brenda Clark who – love all of them.

The alpacas, the cats, the guinea hens, the chickens and the Clarks didn’t always live together.  Ken and Brenda lived in a house about 50 miles away and a few of the alpacas lived on a farm in a different town.  When the Clarks decided that they would like to live on a farm, they spoke to some people about how to take care of alpacas. Some of the things they wanted to know were what kind of dwellings alpacas needed, what kind of food they ate,  how healthy they were and what kind of medicines they needed.  They also wanted to know if this member of the camelid family could live comfortably in Central New York.  Other good questions they had were: how long do alpacas live and what happens if they wanted to breed the alpacas.

So, in 2001, Ken and Brenda bought three alpacas.  Another soon followed.  They visited their new friends as often as they could, usually every weekend, to give them treats and to get to know them. Finally, in 2003 – after months of searching – the  Clarks found their own farm, invested in new farm equipment, and everyone moved in.  Everyone, that is, except the cats – they already lived there and welcomed all of the new tenants. They named the farm Tartan Acres, LLC and most of the alpacas that live there have Irish or Scottish names.   Soon more alpacas were born on the farm or moved there from other places.  Eventually, there were so many that half of them had to move into a separate barn.  In the eastern US there is a parasite that is dangerous for alpacas so the guinea hens were brought to live on the farm to eat that parasite.   Guinea hens – who everyone thinks is a funny looking chicken – are pretty noisy, especially when they see something or someone they don’t know.  So, in addition to eating lots of bugs and weed seeds, they are great at guarding their home.  The chickens came to live with everyone this year.  They have fun in the back yard and produce lots of yummy eggs.  They like to hang around on the deck and beg for blueberries.

Over the years, Ken and Brenda have found that living on the farm with livestock can be both rewarding and challenging.  They have been fortunate enough to have had very few difficult births and sicknesses and have great veterinarians who help out when needed.  Shots are given once a month to help keep that parasite away and shearing day every spring is a time for friends to come help and have fun – but everyone is happy when that day is over.  It is exciting when a new baby (cria) comes into the world and it is fun to watch it grow, running around the pasture chasing after guinea hens.  Spring and Fall are always a busy time of year taking some of the young stock and herd sires to events all over to show them off. There are some proud alpacas on this farm who have earned many blue ribbons for their strong frame and wonderfully soft fleece.

All of the fleece from the animals at Tartan Acres is sent away to be made in to yarn or rovings.  Some of the yarn comes back to the farm to be sold to people who like to knit or crochet and rovings are available for people who like to spin their own yarn.  For people who like to wear gloves, hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters, etc, there are some very nice items for sale that are already knitted.  Ken and Brenda built a shop in the barn and enjoy having people come to shop and check out the herd at Christmas time.

Another time to come to the farm is on the last Saturday of September.  That day was proclaimed National Llama and Alpaca Day and many farms hold special welcoming events that day for people to stop in and see what it is like to live with alpacas.

When Ken and Brenda are not busy in the barn taking care of the alpacas, or on the back deck visiting with their chickens, they can be seen caring for the gardens or working to restore their old house that was build in 1863.  Some day they hope to turn it into a B&B – another way of sharing the farm with other people.  So, if you’ve ever thought of owning an alpaca, want a unique gift, or just need a few hours of rest and relaxation, plan on stopping by – everyone looks forward to seeing you.

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