If you have ever seen an alpaca firsthand, then you probably remember its toothy grin as it peeks at you with its big eyes through its wavy bangs.
Well, a ranch in Brownsburg, Indiana, with quite a history of its own is home to a group of these domesticated South American creatures.
The Montrose Farms Alpaca Ranch sits on 10 acres at 3750 N. County Road 950 East, Brownsburg. Owner Lori Lovely goes out of her way to make the ranch accessible to the public including numerous events throughout the year as well as private tours.
Tucked into what has become a primarily residential area because of the town’s growth, the ranch provides a welcome change harkening back to the past with a farmhouse, barns, pastures and, of course, alpacas!
Montrose Farms History
Lori loves history and enjoys discussing the history of the farm. The farmhouse was built in 1876. The biggest barn on the property has 1879 carved into it's hand-hewn beams.
James Brown, a veteran of the War of 1812, acquired this property as part of the Land Act of 1820. The town of Brownsburg was even named after him. Needless to say this ranch and the land it sits on oozes with history.
But despite all the progress and growth around it, the farm has managed to remain family owned for nearly 150 years and counting passing through many generations.
Lori loves to show off the farm and is willing to customize every tour based on the wants, needs and interest of those attending. She is happy to take a group as small as one family to bigger groups on private tours. She just asks that anyone who is interested call in advance and not just show up.
There is a small fee for tours based on the size of the group.
Currently the farm has about 30 alpacas living there and that number usually hovers around 20-30, she said.
Tips Before You Go
Lori recommends that every guest on a tour wear comfortable clothing.
Alpacas are curious but nervous at the same time. The calmer and quieter you are, the better experience you will have.
She even compares their personality to that of a cat. She said they are more interested in you if you ignore them. So, for the best experience possible, let them come to you.
Often guests, especially young children, are afraid of the alpacas, but there is no reason to be scared. They don’t bite, and they really do like people, she said.
You will soon learn that Lori is quite passionate about alpacas and is good about answering any question.
Questions to Ask
In case you need help getting started on what questions to ask Lori when you are there, she provided some of the most common ones or at least ones that might surprise people.
- Why can't they bite you?
- What part of their body do they prefer to be petted?
- What is the lifespan of alpacas?
- Why do males and females need to be housed in separate barns and pastures?
- What is an ideal way to cool them off on a hot summer day?
- Will they respond to their name?
Montrose Farms Alpaca Ranch provides a home to other animals as well. Several livestock guard dogs live among the alpacas to protect them from predators. These dogs are large but friendly to people and enjoy human attention. They also house free-range chickens on their farm.
Lori is always experimenting with new events to get more people to the farm to meet the alpacas. Two of the most popular have become the annual National Alpaca Farm Day Open House, which always features activities and demonstrations that you can only see at that event, and their Alpaca Yoga events.
She also added a Laughter Yoga With the Alpacas this year with many of these events coming up during the month of September. Here’s a list of some of their events coming in 2020, but check their website for more information and for updates:
- Wine With the Alpacas – Sept. 5
- Laughter Yoga With the Alpacas – Sept. 13
- Alpaca Yoga – Sept. 19
- National Alpaca Farm Day Open House – Sept. 26
- Holiday Open House – Nov. 27
Lori said she also occasionally hosts engagement dinners and other special private gatherings at the farm. You can contact her about availability and rates.
While visiting the ranch, I had an opportunity to view/touch the finished goods from Suri alpaca fleece, and I couldn't believe how soft it is. Visitors can purchase blankets, hats, socks, scarves, teddy bears, mini alpaca keychains, a children’s book that Lori wrote and dryer balls.
The dryer balls, which replace dryer sheets, remain a popular item. They last forever, and no chemicals are present.
One thing to keep in mind, you once again cannot just show up to shop at the farm. This is another activity that you must do during an event, tour or by appointment.
Photos are always welcome at the farm and Lori said people especially love to get selfies with the alpacas.
Of course, you will come across many more photo opportunities during this authentic experience.