People often ask me, “What is the favourite agritourism place that you’ve visited in Ottawa?” It’s a tough question to answer, because there are so many excellent places to visit, and I have so many favourites. But when it comes to picking the place where I felt the most sheer joy, that would have to be Victory Farm Alpacas. There is really nothing like entering a farm pasture and having a herd of alpacas come running up to greet you. The animals are graceful, curious, and most of all, adorable – it’s like being surrounded by giant teddy bears that have come to life. Have a look at this quick video to see what I’m talking about:
Fortunately for Ottawa-area locals and tourists, Victory Farms Alpacas welcomes visitors to experience the joy of alpacas at their farm and alpaca store in Lanark County. Visitors can drop by during regular store hours (Fridays 2pm – 7pm and Saturday to Monday 10am to 4pm), or arrange an appointment at other times. The owners, Brian Riff and his daughter Alanna, are passionate about alpacas and truly enjoy sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with visitors, so you will definitely feel welcome when visiting.
While you’re there, you can visit the farm store run by Alanna. The store sells alpaca products, including warm hats, gloves, mitts, socks, scarves, and even duvets! There are also alpaca-fibre teddy bears and other toys, as well as yarn and other supplies for fibre artists.
During your visit to the farm, you’ll learn all kinds of interesting things about alpacas. For example, these gentle animals are relatively easy to keep, compared to many other domestic animals. They don’t eat very much, they won’t overgraze, and they are usually quite friendly and easy to handle. And they produce a wonderful fibre that is prized for its warmth and softness. You can even bring the animals to alpaca shows, which Brian Riff says are “like dogs shows, but less intense.”
Here’s something else you probably didn’t know about alpacas. To determine whether a female alpaca is pregnant, you can put her with a male, and if she spits, well then she’s pregnant! That’s certainly an interesting way for a female to handle unwanted male attention!
Alpacas are social animals, so you must keep at least two alpacas together or they will be very unhappy. They have a strong need to be with the herd, as seen during my visit, when we spent some time with an alpaca mother and her baby (called a cria) in the barn. While visiting with these two alpacas, the rest of the alpacas gathered just outside the barn doors, peering in at us shyly and with curiosity. Brian eventually let the mother and cria out of the barn, and they ran happily into the herd to rejoin their friends. (An interesting side story: The Riffs provide boarding services. One of their customers keeps their alpacas at the farm for most of the year, then brings them to PEI on vacation every summer. These alpacas had just returned from their summer vacation, and were being slowly reintegrated back into the herd.)
I highly recommend visiting Victory Farm Alpacas. Spending time with alpacas is good for the soul, something we can all use more of in these busy times.
Location: 1701 3rd Concession Dalhousie, Lanark (3 km North of Watson’s Corners – check your GPS before leaving to ensure it recognizes the road name, or view the Victory Farm driving directions)
Phone number: 613-259-0228
Hours: Fridays 2-7, Saturday, Sunday, Monday 10-4 – other times by appointment
Tours: Available during store hours or by appointment. No charge (but please do consider buying some alpaca products from the store).
Events: This weekend (Nov. 25-28), Alanna is holding her yearly Christmas Sale at the store, where you’ll find sale and clearanceitems and you’ll save the HST on all store items.