This Chester County Couple Found a New Calling in Alpaca Farming

MainLine Today
By: Lisa Dukart
Photo: Courtesy of Alpaca Culture

Original content from MainLine Today.
 
In northwestern Chester County, past the historic village of Eagle, the busy traffic on Route 322 gives way to the quiet streets and sprawling properties of Glenmoore. It’s where you’ll find Grist Mill Farm Alpacas, marked by a small sign.

Surrounded by acres of mostly untouched land, it’s easy to miss. Following the lane through a lightly forested stretch, you eventually come upon an elegant home and an unexpected sight: a herd of alpacas. The moment you approach the circular driveway, long necks crane to look, black, brown and white heads bob, and large eyes gaze curiously.

Members of the camelid family, alpacas are native to South America. Terri Silvester and her husband, Peter, stumbled into the business 10 years ago while attending a match at the Brandywine Polo Club, where a woman had a few alpacas. “We saw these animals, and we were absolutely intrigued by them,” recalls Peter. “They were just so gentle and peaceful and really quite charming.”

The herd began with two pregnant females and has since grown to 15. The initial learning curve was steep. The Silvesters had to find out what fence types and heights were most effective. They also learned how to raise baby alpacas—known as crias—and brush up on their knowledge of herd animals in general. Family and friends were initially skeptical, but the Silvesters were undeterred.

Alpaca farming is fairly popular throughout Pennsylvania, with 86 members registered to the Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association. President Chris Works says membership has grown about 10 percent annually for the past 12 years. Nationwide, there are over 255,000 alpacas registered to the Alpaca Owners Association. That number includes the Silvesters’ 15, as well as Works’ herd at his Kendall Creek Farms Alpacas in Bradford.

Read the rest of this story and view the photos at MainLine Today.