Kevin Fuller and Catherine Timms never imagined the growth of their unusual business.
The pair opened Moore House Fine Alpacas on Tice Road in 2004 and it has grown significantly over the last decade – along with the popularity of the animal.
“My wife had come across some articles in magazines about the animal,” Fuller said. “She had a chance to visit some (alpaca) farms in Ottawa where she learned about the animal and the farming that goes on with it.”
Upon returning home, the two agreed on purchasing eight alpacas.
“We quickly discovered how interesting the animals were, with their fibres and behavioural instincts.”
Alpacas have been bred in South America for thousands of years, but with research expanding on what alpaca fibre has to offer, it is a resurgence.
The fibre, Fuller says, is soft, durable, luxurious and silky. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. It is naturally water-repellent and difficult to ignite.
Timms fell in love with the potential the animals had. The couple was not alone.
“When we started out, there were around 40 farms in Ontario,” Fuller said. “Now there are over 140, so the growth has been huge.”
Being one of the pioneers in Ontario had its bumps. Veterinarians around town had almost no experience dealing with alpacas and the family still were adjusting to the furry creatures.
He eventually expanded the barn and made the front room of his Tice Road house into a store. It was a learning experience for everyone involved with the alpacas, Fuller says.
The farm, now with over a dozen alpacas, offers a wide variety of clothing made by the fibres of the alpaca, including socks and sweatshirts.
They pack up the alpacas in the minivan and head to competitions.
Lexus, born in 2007, became a two-time grand champion and a Get of Sire winner. Other alpacas have shown well from Moore House Fine Alpacas.
“You get strange looks driving on the highway with an alpaca in your backseat,” Fuller joked.
Even at his home, he watches cars curiously slow down in front of the farm.
That’s when he decided to launch an open house to showcase what the animal has to offer on a more personal basis.
“People are always driving by, so on days such as the open house, we get a lot of curious visitors who may never have seen an alpaca in their life before,” Fuller says.
“That’s why we hold them, so they can learn about the often misunderstood animal and the potential its fibres have to offer.”