SHEGUIANDAH—Richard Lathwell of Sheguiandah will be opening the Lobo Loco Alpaca Farm this spring at his Townline Road farm.
Mr. Lathwell purchased 44 animals from the Noble Alpaca Farm herd (that had been located on Bidwell’s Scotch Line Road) in addition to three lamas (alpaca guard animals), after owners Glen and Rochel Totman put the majority of their herd up for sale last fall.
“I have this big farm that was originally farmed using horses when it was established in 1866—it was the original Burnett Farm—and I don’t like cattle, so I thought the land might be good for alpacas,” explained Mr. Lathwell. “The timing was also perfect as Glen and Rochel were looking to sell theirs.”
Since moving to Manitoulin from Toronto in 2010 in the hopes of becoming “self-sufficient,” Mr. Lathwell has been growing produce on his farm with a large orchard featuring eight different types of apples in addition to pears and plums, a big vegetable garden and beehives.
The organic farm will continue to grow produce and harvest honey, which Mr. Lathwell sells at the Little Current Farmers’ Market and the Eat Local Sudbury co-operative.
As of this spring, his produce and honey will also be available alongside alpaca fiber products such as wool from the farm, which will be supplemented with wholesale alpaca products in order to keep up with anticipated demands.
Though the Lobo Loco alpacas aren’t at their new home yet, Mr. Lathwell has been spending time with them, getting to know the animals and being mentored by the Totmans.
“It was part of the deal that the alpacas would winter at the Totman farm and come here in the spring,” explained Mr. Lathwell. “The Totmans have really been acting as mentors to me and I will be running the farm similar to how they did, focussing on harvesting the animals fiber and marketing the farm as a tourist draw.”
Mr. Lathwell said that in theory, he and the Totmans will be shearing the Lobo Loco alpacas in early May at the Bidwell farm and transporting the animals to their new home after they are sheared, receive their shots and are dewormed.
“There is still a lot of work to do to get the farm ready for them,” Mr. Lathwell said, “but most of it, like fencing and renovations to the barn, will have to wait for the snow to be gone.”
In addition to mentoring, the Totmans will also be giving Mr. Lathwell a book of information on all the alpacas which includes a page on each animal that contains their name, family history, photo and medical information.
“They are also giving me a computer system to help keep track of the alpacas,” he said. “Alpacas don’t inbreed well—it’s important to keep track of who is related to who and the program also identifies which animals are eligible to breed together.”
Right now Mr. Lathwell is running Lobo Loco on his own, but he has applied for funding in the hope of obtaining financial support and creating full-time jobs on the farm.
“I’m excited and nervous,” revealed Mr. Lathwell of his new endeavour. “I’ve installed a weather station, which through http://www.wunderground.com has been drawing a lot of interest in the farm, but I plan to start marketing it more in the spring.”
The Expositor will be checking in on the Lobo Loco Alpaca Farm in May and getting a first-hand look at the sheering processes.
For more information visit http://lobolocoalpacas.com.