HANOVER COUNTY, Va. —Bucolic Beaverdam, Virginia is located about 3,500 miles from Peru. But parts of Meadowgate farm on Coatesville Road in Hanover County resemble the South American nation.
“This area is charming, to be honest," Meadowgate Alpacas co-owner Nicole Phillips said. “It is just like a slice of heaven.”
Alpacas, native to Peru, call Meadowgate home.
“They’re like pets, like family, like your kids, they’re like friends just great animals," Meadowgate Alpacas co-owner Stephen Phillips said. "If you’re an animal lover very hard not to fall hard for alpacas.”
Nicole and Stephen Phillips took a leap of faith five years ago when they purchased their first three alpacas. It was love at first touch.
“When they’re at their fluffiest, which is right now, they’re just so huggable,” Nicole Phillips said.
In five years. their herd has grown to about 30.
“They hold nothing back. They offer themselves up to you completely,” Nicole said.
The 10-acre Meadowgate farm is a family affair.
Two of the couple's four children help manage and show the lovable animals and run the business's social media accounts.
“We remind ourselves all of the time just how blessed we are,” Nicole said.
The Phillips said their creatures are curious and shy, and not aggressive.
“They’re kind of as cute on the inside as they are on the outside,” Stephen said.
Their affection and attention are on full display even when strange-looking journalists drop by for a visit asking too many questions.
Alpacas can warm your heart and your neck.
“The first thing to know about alpaca fiber is that it is lighter and softer and warmer than wool,” Stephen said.
Each April, the Meadowgate alpacas part with their fiber.
“On average, an alpaca will give you between five and 10 pounds of fiber,” Nicole said.
After the fiber is processed, the Phillips family creates custom items.
The family-run company is getting big-time attention.
National Geographic Wild’s tv show “Going Fur Gold” recently featured the Phillips.
“This is more of a labor of love rather than financial reward,” Nicole said.
Stephen and Nicole said there is plenty of room at the farm.
They are always quick to share their knowledge with people interested in owning this lovable livestock.
“Sometimes they want honest advice to prevent them from making mistakes. You can really make some expensive mistakes in this business and we try not to help others not do that,” Nicole said.
Alpaca Farmer was never something they intended for their resume, but Nicole and Steve said their decision just ‘feels’ right.
“We know we don’t want to get larger. We have room for more animals but we don’t want to grow the herd because we lose the touch of individual animals,” Stephen said.
“We’re more into sustainability, being environmentally friendly and cautious with our animals,” Nicole added.
The Phillips family of Beaverdam are business owners who called working with their beloved colleagues a sheer joy.
“Just having it be something we all do together is like hitting the lottery,” Stephen said. “It is here at home. It is a beautiful space. Very happy with all of it.”
Click here if you’re interested in finding out more about the Alpacas at Meadowgate, their furry products, or perhaps a farm visit.
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