Back in 1999, Michael and his brother owned and managed three Subway grinder franchises, an indoor skate park at the Holyoke Mall and still worked their full time jobs. This workload had been going on for twelve hectic years. It was tough on Michael and his family and a decision was made to sell the businesses. But, what then? What type of business could they invest in that they could work on together? After reading an article in the newspaper about Alpacas, they decided a lifestyle change was needed and began to research the industry. Spending the next two years visiting farms, attending shows and learning about the industry, they made their initial purchase of five breeding females in 2001. The animals were boarded at a local farm for the next two years while they learned the ropes. They became the poo crew for a herd of over one hundred alpacas. Their apprenticeship administering shots, trimming nails and assisting in the breeding and birthing process for a herd that large proved to be an invaluable experience. They felt confident to cut the cord and take the next step towards building their farm.
After purchasing farm land in Whately, Massachusetts Michael and Marion began building their home on the property. They found a local builder that specialized in 1800th century designed homes and building started in August 2003. Their home in South Hadley sold quicker than anticipated and their Whately home was nowhere near completion so they moved in with their son Jason for a short period of time. The problem that they encountered there involved cats and their dog Cooper. Jason had several cats that lived in his apartment. The local cats in South Hadley tormented Cooper in his kennel so he hated cats and now he had to live with cats! It was just too much for him and he started to lose his fur and was agitated most of the time. It just wasn't working and I'm sure Jason, although a very hospitable host felt a little cramped with us living in his bedroom. So, what to do?
They asked their builder if they could move into the loft over the garage while their house was being built. Now mind you, there was no heat, no insulation, one electrical outlet for a light and an alarm clock, and a bed surrounded by their life's possessions in boxes (everywhere!). They had a gas grill outside to cook on (no stove) and a refrigerator in the garage, and no sink. To use the bathroom you had to climb into the bathroom window from the outside. During the winter that was tough! At night, lying in bed, it would be so cold that you could see your breath in the air. In the summertime it was so hot, candles would melt and lotion would just ooze out of the bottle. By spring the builder was at a point that Michael and Marion could sand, prep and paint the walls and woodwork. The plan was to work during the day and be onsite to work on the house at night. The memories gathered during this time period is laughed about today however living through them was quite a different story, but in the end, their home is perfect for them.
During this time, the alpacas were moved to the renovated tobacco barn on the property and plans were in place to start work on two new barns. It's been a labor of love and a lot of hard work but the pastures are green and lush, the fencing is secure and the barns built specifically for alpacas are perfect. The old ninety foot tobacco barn was cut in half and renovated to be a much more useful barn. It looks like a nice New England barn with a loft and plenty of windows. It's a perfect setting for an Alpaca farm.
We welcome visitors to our farm year round. We encourage prospective buyers to visit and take advantage of our hands on philosophy. Tall Grass Farm is large enough to offer quality animal selection but small enough to offer personal customer support before, during and after a purchase.