For a unique way to spread loving vibes all around, animal-lovers can take their sweethearts on a special Alpaca Buddy Walk at the Lilymoore Alpaca Farm this weekend. “It’s the first year we’re offering this for Valentine’s Day,” says Diana Bellissimo. “We do have an Alpaca Buddy program that runs all year round for ages 8 and up, but this is the first time we’re doing it specifically for adult couples.”
The special program, running this Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, allows two people to each walk an alpaca around the farm property. At the end of the hourlong walk, a professional photo is taken of the walkers with their animal companions, and a heart-shaped frame is included in the package. Walkers will also receive an alpaca keychain and a subscription to the newsletter The Camelid Caller.
When asked what inspired them to open their farm to visitors and animal-walking experiences, Bellissimo says, “I see the kind of joy people get when they see and interact with alpacas: The fun they have, the joy it puts on their faces – it’s priceless. I love being able to share that with people. A lot of people have never seen an alpaca until they come to our farm.”
Bellissimo and crew are training their alpacas to become therapy animals that can visit nursing homes and other facilities. “We’ve been working with Pet Partners to get quite a few of my alpacas certified as therapy animals. Pet Partners is a nationwide organization. You have your animal trained to a certain level. For instance, we take our alpacas to Tractor Supply so they get used to different sounds and people walking up to them, get them used to all kinds of common situations – like, even the sliding doors as you walk in: get them used to walking through that. Pet Partners will have someone certify and give clearance for us to go to different places. We’re going to work with our miniature horse on this, too.”
The Lilymoore Alpaca Farm is a private business that offers farm tours every weekend, on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 – a program that will soon be expanding. A gift store at the farm carries a variety of goods made of alpaca fiber – hats, shawls, items for babies – from local New England artists and select items from Peru. Winter hours at the farm store are Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. All visits to the farm must be prearranged.
Bellissimo says, “Camps can come in the summer, along with schools, Girl and Boy Scouts and church groups to tour the farm. We also make appointments for people to come privately. We have horses, a llama, ducks, chickens, a goose and turkeys. People get to interact with them all. It’s absolutely a working farm, but we have a lot of fun on it!”
The alpacas get sheared once a year during the month of May – which means that, right now, the animals are full and fluffy. “They have at least three to four inches of fiber on them,” Bellissimo says. “They look really cute!”
Valentine’s Day Alpaca Walk, Thursday, February 14, 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., Saturday/Sunday, February 16/17, 1 & 3 p.m., $90/couple, Lilymoore Alpaca Farm, 21 Moore Road, Pleasant Valley; (845) 605-7002, www.lilymoorefarm.com.