Farmgirls and Fairy Tales - Wunsapana Farm

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What is a fairy tale?  According to Wikipedia....

"Fairy tale is a term used to describe something blessed
with unusual happiness. Fairy tales take place
'once upon a time' rather than in 'actual times'.

Interesting!  And it's no wonder that Teri Conroy chose to name her farm, Wunsapana Farm because it doesn't take long for visitors to begin to feel like Wunsapana Farm really is something of a  'fairy tale'.  Like most fairy tales, Teri's story began a long, long time ago and didn't really begin with the kingdom you see when you visit today.  Teri's life began pretty normally - with a handsome prince, a regular job, a daughter and some dogs.  What?  You never heard of a princess with a dog?  Well this princess has over 15 years of experience raising and training therapy dogs.  Eventually her family grew to include some goats and, some miniature donkeys, a horse and a pony....and some chickens.  Before long (in 2005), Teri's family welcomed some rescue llamas.  And if you've been reading my blog this past year, you already know how this story goes....llamas are like potato chips, you can't have just one. (Katrina Capasso)  Today Teri's farm is home to 17 llamas and 1 alpaca - who thinks he's a llama.

Wunsapana's beautiful barn was built by Teri's younger brother, Jack, incorporating some of the wood on the property's old barn.

  You must know by now that I am in love with llamas, and so, for the past several months I've been looking forward to visiting Wunsapana Farm.  From following the farm's Facebook page, I thought I knew what to expect but I didn't expect to step into a fairy tale!  Over the past year, John and I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting a good number of llama and alpaca farmers.  From our very first meeting, we knew that this type of farmer is a special breed of farmer.  Unlike dairy farmers, or farmers who raise livestock for slaughter, farmers who raise animals for fiber are on a first name basis with their animals.  They treat them with tenderness and affection, they talk to them, they understand their personalities - like the family cat or dog, they're a member of the family. That may sound unusual to you, but if you've ever been lucky enough to visit one of the local llama or alpaca farms, you know it's true.  Teri knows each of her animals intimately, understands their moods, reads their body language and I'm pretty sure there's some magical communication that takes place too!

 Wunsapana Farm sits on 30 beautiful acres in Altamont, NY.  Although Teri is the queen of the kingdom, her husband, John, maintains the farm's land and trails Their daughter, Hannah, plays an important role too.  Hannah has been Teri's sidekick on the farm since they moved there when she was 3.   Now a junior in college, Hannah is poised and charming and could have easily filled in as tour guide extraordinaire yesterday.  She too has a special way with the animals.  Her llama is Martini (not after the drink, she was sure to clarify).
Hannah and Martini
It might be thought by some that farmers are the folks who weren't smart enough or polished enough to wear the fancy suits and work in the business world, but that is so far from the truth.  Farmers are some of the most intelligent (and hard working) people I know.  Farming consists of so much more than boarding a bunch of animals, putting them out to graze, and herding them in at night.  Farming is a business and a science!  You need to be knowledgeable in every aspect of your livestock's anatomy, you need to understand that breed's personality, how to properly feed for your breed for optimal results....the list goes on and on.  I bet you thought you just let the animals out to graze, anywhere, anytime, right?  Nope!  There's even a science to that.  

Most, if not all, llama and alpaca farmers raise their animals for fleece (fiber).  In order for a llama to produce the best quality fleece, he/she must be fed just the right diet.  Once the fleece is harvested after shearing in the spring,  Teri also spins her own fleece into several types of yarn.  Her yarn is award winning and is so coveted by master knitters that she has a long wait list for it.  
Farming is hard work. So you see, even in a fairy tale, this princess is up with the sun and sporting overalls instead of ball gowns and glass slippers.

 This shot was taken right after we spotted this fella showing that height and agility come in handy when something yummy is just a little out of reach....

And the sweet, so cuddly and so personable!


 How can you not smile at this face???
One of the latest additions to Wunsapana Farm is cria, Katastic, or Tassi as she's lovingly nicknamed.  Tassi is full of energy, spunk and like any youngster in the family, is all about being the family prankster! She was on her best behavior for her visitors today.  If you're thinking she looks are correct.  Her fleece is soft as silk.
 And sometimes....we just have to lay down for a spell!
Llamas are quite the comedians.  Aside from their sometimes goofy expressions, llamas give you plenty of reasons to this fella.
Seems this fella prefers the cool air of the fan to freshen his breath.  Too funny!  He did this for a longggggg time and Teri says he does it regularly. 
And sometimes, we just need to take a good roll in the dirt!
And when someone wants a photo.....just smile and lean right in!
 When you're the only alpaca in a family of llamas.......well, it's good to be 'incognito'. (below)
 And every farm, every story, every fairy tale has their one special someone.  You know....that one creature who thinks he's the King of the Castle, Ruler of the Roost, the Head Honcho...
Well at Wunsapana Farm, that would be Aslan!  Aslan is the most handsome and studly of llamas.  He's the macho man of the farm, the Brad Pitt of the pack, the Man of the Hour!  It seems Aslan is sexy and he knows it and lives in the notion that the world revolves around the girls.  And when you're this handsome, it's no wonder you'd be a little girl crazy!

 He's one tall, dark and handsome stud muffin!

Teri doesn't just keep her llamas all to herself.  She works with local 4-H groups, church groups, scout troops and groups of adults with developmental disabilities.  She also mentors new llama owners, like Katrina at Dakota Ridge Farm mentored her. Teri says what she does now is just an extension of her volunteer days with her therapy dogs.  Although Teri loves her farm, her life on the farm and all her animals, what she loves most is giving back and sharing her passion for llamas.  It's impossible to spend time with her without understanding why Wunsapana Farm is her fairy tale.  We were so fortunate to spend the afternoon with Teri, Hannah and the many happy creatures who live in her kingdom.  It sure is a magical place!

To learn more about Wusapana Farm, check out their website and Facebook page - links provided below! 

Thanks for reading and come back soon to Life As I See It for the continuation of my 
Summer Vacation 101 series!

1 comment

  1. It was a joy to have you here, Gail! I loved this post and so happy I get to share the farm with others. Thank you!


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