alpaca farmers of America are among good company as many Americans
search for the perfect investment opportunity and in some
cases retirement activity and find the delights and rewards
of the alpaca lifestyle. Kathleen Friend of Friendly Farm
Alpacas is one such lucky person. In a handful of years, she
has undergone the transformation from a hopeful glimpse into
the alpaca industry into a full-fledged successful small breeder
of both huacayas and suris.
"I'm a retired American Airlines flight attendant. I began flying in 1968 and retired in 1984. After which I began raising Arabian horses... where the money kept going, going, and was gone! Late 2001, I stumbled into the world of the alpaca while researching fleece to use with my spinning wheel, left to me by my mother. Every website I visited pointed to the ultra fine fleece of these endearing creatures...called 'hummers.' The rest, as they say, is history."
The history of the Friendly Farm story is one of classic success achieved by maintaining the "Friendly Farm" ethics in the midst of researching and acquiring the most sought-after bloodlines in the country. "Award-winning alpacas plus friendly service and support" is the goal at Friendly Farm. Making this a reality has come to mean living the spirit of friendliness.
More specifically, the "friendly" ethic has meant many hours of thoughtful mentoring and assistance to new breeders coming into the industry. It has meant ready and helpful advice as well as practical assistance in all areas of farming from alpaca selection to feed to shearing. It has meant teaming up in cooperative partnerships and marketing efforts, and investing time and money into the success of her customer's businesses as well as her own. But to Kathleen, it's just an integral part of her nature and not something to work at.
Farm Alpacas sits in the middle of northern California about
100 miles north of Sacramento. It's at the north end of Chico,
California, on Rock Creek. "We already had our two-acre
home in Chico set up for my remaining horses and one goat.
It was perfect for alpacas," says Kathleen. Now about
50 alpacas more or less enjoy the beautifully manicured acres
as arrivals come and go for breedings and sales.
While driving around California, be sure to keep a lookout for her fun personalized license plates. Kathleen tells of her choice, "I decided, just for fun, to get personalized plates for my truck. I had only one choice in mind... If I couldn't get it, I didn't want any other. Now that I am dealing in alpaca byproducts, I wanted PACAPOO for my plates... Nobody else in California wanted to be a PACAPOO I guess, so I got it! I've had a lot of fun with it."
From the very beginnings of Friendly Farm Alpacas, the quality of the alpacas has been of utmost importance.