Meridian Industrial

ROARING ACRES ALPACAS

2020-12-21 | Vicki Mitchell

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Looking for a feel-good way to spend some time this winter? Then get yourself and your family and friends over to Roaring Acres Alpaca Farm in Suffield, Connecticut! There you can meet and mingle with new friends with adorable names like Twinkle, Tundra, Virgil, Picasso and Cassie. Yes… all 100 of the alpacas here have names, as do the mini donkeys, the Painted Desert sheep, and the fattest pig around…Morty!

You can wander the farm pastures (wear appropriate footwear) and feed the very friendly alpacas with the bags of food provided, visit the other animals, and definitely stop into the boutique store on-site! There you will find all things alpaca related, from the softest hats, gloves, scarves and blankets to (reversible!) slippers, plush toys, key chains, other novelty items, and gorgeous skeins of soft yarn for your own projects. In the warmer months, you will also be able to purchase the farm’s own eggs and honey from “Jake’s Bees.”

The owner of this happy empire is Alison Mnich, who, along with her husband John and three adult children, consider all of the animals as family. “We do our best to treat them like family,” says Mnich, “and give them the best possible lives that we can. Many guests wonder how we can tell them all apart, but if you spent the amount of time with them that we do, you would understand how different they all are from each other and it’s really interesting to see how they mature over the years. They each have their own unique personality that really sets them apart from each other.”

When asked how she got started with Roaring Acres, Mnich explained, “Initially, we got chickens so that I could provide farm fresh eggs to my family. I’ve always had a love for animals, and we had the land, so I really wanted to get some type of farm animal. Unfortunately, I do have an allergy to horses, so that was out of the question for me. Alpacas are hypoallergenic, so my husband and I decided to get a few alpacas as a hobby. Alpacas are a herd animal and do best in groups of three of the same gender (mixing genders in the same pen, when full grown, is not the best choice) so when we first started we got 3 females and then 3 males. Eventually, we got some more and started to breed a little bit, and we really just started growing the farm from there! Some of our animals have kind of fallen into our lap. Our vet usually recommends us when people have farm animals, mostly roosters, that they cannot keep any longer. Our pig, Morty, was rescued by a family friend from an apartment in Syracuse, NY. The mini horses were found by a family member and re-homed to us. Some of the animals we just thought would be really neat to have, which is how we ended up with the Painted Desert sheep and mini donkeys.”

Taking care of the farm and all of the animals is a “team effort,” according to Mnich. “We have a lot of reliable helpers, as well as myself, who are out there every day to take care of the animals. We do get a lot of interest from students in the agriscience program at Suffield High School who would like to do their Supervised Agricultural Experience with us, as well.”

A visit to the farm, according to Mnich, entails “a check-in table outside of our boutique, which is where we greet our guests upon their arrival. We have a quick safety waiver for them to sign, and then we give them our tips on how to make their experience the best it can be with the animals, as well as how to have a safe visit in our pasture. We will give guests a bag of feed and let them into the pasture with our mother and baby alpacas…depending on how busy we are, we either give a personal tour, which we prefer, or allow guests to explore the pastures while we have staff members around to ensure safety and answer questions.” The feed consists of a mixture of Mazuri grain, sweet feed, and fiber enhancer. “We do not allow guests to bring their own animal feed for the safety of our animals. Chickens will eat anything, so usually when guests are feeding the alpacas the chickens will be around, eating anything that falls. We do not allow guests to feed the mini donkeys or mini horses.”

The alpacas are sheared every May, with each animal yielding 6 to 8 pounds of fiber, which is sent to several mills for processing. Some of the items for sale in the boutique are made at these mills, and some of the yarn is also available in the shop and provided to outside knitters for hand-knit items. Mnich makes the nesting balls and dryer balls herself, and they also stock several fair trade items from Peru.

It’s clear how much Mnich and her staff are dedicated to caring for the animals and their visitors. However, she acknowledges that it can be difficult working in the harsh elements. “Animals need to be cared for no matter what, so it does get a little tough during temperature extremes or in the heavy rain/snow, but it’s worth it in the end. It helps having friendly smiles working out there with you! I really enjoy getting to know all of the animals. I love their uniqueness and quirkiness. Most people don’t get to experience so many different personalities, especially in animals, on a daily basis. I consider myself very lucky to be able to have these animals to share these experiences with.”

Roaring Acres Alpacas is located at 685 Hale Street, Suffield, CT
Visiting Hours are generally between noon and 4:00.
Call or check Facebook for updates.
The farm is closed during inclement weather.
www.roaringacresalpacas.com
860-463-0485

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