Alicia Holbrook turned a sleepless night watching television with a new baby into a career she loves. She was watching a program about alpaca farming.
“I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or the lady was really good but she sold me on it,” Holbrook said. “The next morning I told my husband about it. Usually, he’s like, ‘you’re crazy, we’re not doing anything like that.’ This time he said, ‘I like that. Let’s do some research.'”
So after doing that research and finding a mentor farm in Spartanburg, they turned the family property on SC 35 in Pomaria into Carolina Pride Pastures alpaca farm.
“I was in the corporate world,” the University of South Carolina graduate said of her lack of farming experience. She traded in her high heels for rubber boots.
“All my sorority sisters laugh at me and think this is hilarious,” she said. “But the farming aspect of it is fun. It’s relaxing but I also get to use now that business aspect.”
The Holbrooks want you to come and see the entire process of alpaca yarn–from the shearing to the yarn to the items knitted and crocheted by Holbrook’s sisters-in-law.
“My sister-in-law, who actually lives here on the farm with us — both of my sisters-in-law — make finished products for us,” she said. “So we make scarves, hats, gloves, boot cuffs. Whatever you name it, she knits and crochets for us.”
The endeavor started with five pregnant female alpacas in the spring of 2013. The herd has now grown to about three dozen alpacas and two llamas. Holbrook said she wants visitors to see something different from other farms in South Carolina.
“South Carolina’s got so many chickens and pigs and cows and they don’t realize there’s a diversified agriculture that’s out in the fields these days and you can make a decent living off of it and incorporate your family,” she said. “We’re able to do this together and see a finished product out of it.”
Alicia said shearing time in April is fun for the whole family.
“It’s fun to see their faces. The kids just really get into it and sometimes I find the adults get in it more than the kids do,” she said.
This year Carolina Pride Pastures is shearing April 14 and 15. Although the Holbrooks will be busy working with the animals and giving them their annual vet checkups, people are welcome to see the process. And the visit is free.
“It’s the time we harvest our crop,” she said. “We’re not able to speak with folks much, but they can see the animals go from full fleece to a naked alpaca.”
Holbrook said visitors love shearing time.
“They’re always amazed that something came off of the animal. We didn’t hurt them in any way, it was just a big haircut. And then we’re able to turn that into a finished product: the scarves and hats and the gloves,” she said.
Carolina Pride Pastures is one of several agritourism farms on SC 34, so Holbrook said you can make a day of visiting farms in her neighborhood.
“While you’re in this area, there are three other farms on the same road that also have farm tours, and so you can make an entire day out of visiting all the farms on Highway 34,” she said.
Click here for more information on other farms you can visit in South Carolina.