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Moving a Farm and 150 Alpacas
Author: Scott and Janet Swift
Weve been asked, Just how does one go about moving a farm and 150 alpacas?
So here is our story:
In August of 2005 Scotty and I made the decision to leave our home in Vermont and move south. There was a variety of reasons for our decision, but the primary one was to leave the long New England winters for a climate that would have a kinder and shorter winter season. We thought that West Virginia might be a nice place to relocate to. We both grew up in Northern Virginia and were familiar with her sister state. Our criteria was that a new farm would have to have many of the same characteristics as our home in Vermont: It had to be rural, in the mountains and be really beautiful. On a whim we sat down at the computer and did a Google search for farms for sale in West Virginia. The very first farm that came up looked perfect! After contacting the realtor we made the trip down and fell absolutely in love. The new place IS in the mountains, its rural and it is truly beautiful. Because we also had a herd of about 150 alpaca to move we were even more delighted to find that the new farm had been a sheep and goat dairy operation and there were nine fenced pastures already in place as well as 7 ponds and a couple of streams. The new home is a log cabin, situated near the height of the land, again, very similar to our home in Vermont. Perfect!
We made an offer to buy and it was accepted, so now the work began. We sold our home in Vermont and began the overwhelming task of moving a farm. It was a tremendous task in that not only did we have our household to move, we also had a great deal of large farm machinery AND a large herd of animals.
First we found a storage unit fairly close to the new farm and started moving our household and some of the farm equipment. We made several trips from Vermont to West Virginia and back in pickup trucks with trailers in tow. Our little sheep trailer worked well we filled it up, covered it with a tarp and pulled it with Scottys dads big Ford pick-up.
At this point in our story Scotty and I would both tell you we never could have made such a huge move without the help of some very wonderful family and friends. Our good friend Pete Arnold (a professional truck driver) loaded our big tractor and some other large implements onto his flatbed and brought that down. The Seller of the new farm was kind enough to let us bring that onto the property before closing.
With most of our possessions moved to West Virginia it was now time for closing day and the final trip to our new home with the balance of our possessions and our critters.
Because it was mid-September the decision was made to leave Vermont in the evening and drive through the cool of the night with the animals to arrive at the new farm in the morning.
We made arrangements with Ian and Jennifer Lutz (Cas-Cad-Nac Farm) to borrow their livestock trailer which was the first to be loaded that afternoon with all of the breeding males. It was a tight squeeze, but in they all went and headed down the road with Scottys dad Fred, and Beth.
Next we loaded a big group of females into Conrad Grillos big rig and sent them on their way.
Our dear friend David VanGelder of CedarBrook Alpacas trailer was next, but first we had to take a few minutes to deliver a cria! We loaded our chickens and guinea hens into crates and put them in the nose of the trailer. Then we put our two large guard dogs (Hungarian Komondors) and their litter of NINE 4 week old puppies into the living quarters of Davids trailer. Then into the trailer went the rest of the females with crias (including the brand new mom and babe), and David with his friend Bob were on their way.
Last to load was Audrey Rhoades of Mirage Alpacas. She and I pulled her big gooseneck trailer full of juveniles and had my Australian Sheppard, and hers, too, in the truck with us.
Scotty and another dear friend, Freddy Fellows, brought up the rear with our pickup pulling our big Ebby stock trailer filled with the balance of our household goods. (Oh! And the cat, who was carsick most of the way poor guy)
We all drove through the night and met in the morning at the Fire House in our new home town. The road we now live on is a West Virginia one-lane road which means exactly what the name implies. It is 5 miles up on a winding, narrow, one lane road so we thought it best to caravan together. When we arrived at the farm we opened up the trailers one by one and herded the animals up the driveway to their designated pasture areas. You can bet that there were locals looking on what an unusual happening for the little town of Renick, West Virginia!
We have been here now for 8 months. In that time weve built a new barn; drilled a well for the barn; cleared, cleared, CLEARED brush; and started some new fencing. Weve met many wonderful new people and made lots of new friends. The alpacas seem to enjoy their new West Virginia mountain home and we feel pretty sure that they appreciated the shorter winter. The pastures were lush and green by the middle of April.
A HUGE debt of gratitude goes out to the very special people in our lives without whose help we could have never pulled this off. To you Audrey, Conrad, Jen, Ian, David, Bob, Karen, Freddy, Pete, Fred and Beth we are eternally grateful. We love you all.
While we miss our many friends in New England, we have found a wonderful place to call home and are genuinely happy.
Yall come see us, hear?
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