- Our Work
- Get Involved
- Inside Heifer
- Ideas in Action
Love brought Jennifer Gallentine from the city to live in the country. A desire to stay home and raise her baby turned her into a farmer and a textile artist -- and Willow Mist Acres Alpaca Farm & Boutique was borne.
Before Gallentine, 39, fell in love with her husband Homer she was living in Pittsburgh where she had worked in dental offices for 21 years. Before she had moved to Normalville she had never lived on a farm but had an interest in alpacas for about 10 years.
Her husband had farmed land while growing up with his family. Eventually he grew tired of working the land alone and he ceased to farm.
When Jennifer Gallentine became pregnant with their first child, she was still driving 116 miles a day to and from her job in Pittsburgh. "I wanted something that I could just wake up and walk out my front door and something that I could do and care for my daughter at the same time," Jennifer Gallentine said.
The couple began looking at alpacas in October of 2009. By February of 2010 they got their first six alpacas and opened Willow Mist Acres. They now have a total of 31.
"Three were born here last year and two this year, the rest we just brought in from other places. We are raising them for breeding and to take their fiber," she said.
One of the herdsire alpacas is NJ Atlantico's Sea Admiral. The animal was featured on John Stossel's program on Fox Business News. "I co-own him with Hagen Heights Farm in New York and he resides here in Fayette County," Jennifer Gallentine said.
In addition to the alpacas, the couple is also raising llamas, angora rabbits, chickens, heritage Narragansett turkeys, India Blue peacocks and Myotonic (fainting) goats.
The llamas were adopted from the North East Llama Rescue. They were part of the NY-100 that were saved from the Montana sanctuary last December that closed down and left 800 llamas there to starve to death. It was one of the largest animal rescues since hurricane Katrina.
"No matter how much I complained before, I did like farming and this is a way back that I never thought possible," Homer Gallentine said. "This is very different from the type of farming I did. In a lot of ways it is much easier."
Over the past year, Jennifer Gallentine learned to spin the fibers she gets from the alpacas, llamas and angora rabbits into yarn. She also learned to crochet that yarn into a variety of items. Last week the couple opened a new farm store on the property. The store features the hand-spun yarns Jennifer Gallentine creates from the herd of animals and the heirloom garments she makes by hand from their yarns.
The family store has honey and farm fresh brown eggs grown. There is also goat's milk soap and lotion made by a friend. Hand-spun yarns, raw fleece, processed fleece, batts and rovings are also available. While she did purchase some Criations LLC alpaca socks for the store to help get • started, her goal is to have everything in the store come from the farm and other locally grown and made products.
"We strive to be a self-sufficient farm that leaves the smallest carbon footprint that we can," Jennifer Gallentine said.
The couple is even offering free educational farm tours about the different animals that live there, and how their fleece goes from the animal to a finished product.
The Gallatines are also interested in using their resources to give back to the community. Last year during Lent, Gallentine made a contribution to the children at St. John's the Baptist in Scottdale.
"I had just wanted Jennifer to bring an alpaca down to the school and she came up with the idea to donate the supplies for the kids to make magnets," said Terri Springer of Mill Run, the former science teacher at the school.
Not only did the Gallentines bring NJ Atlantico's Sea Admiral to the school they also donated the fiber from the farm and materials for the students to make alpaca-needle felted magnets to sell during Lent. The students made and sold 62 magnets from which they raised $260 to donate to Heifer International, which works with communities all around the world to end hunger and poverty.
The couple is planning to participate in National Alpaca Day, Sept. 24 and 25 when all across the country alpaca farms will open up for the public to come in and learn about alpacas. Gallentine said she has invited members of her spinning guild to set up booths and offer products made of fiber at the farm that weekend. "I would like to turn this into a fiber event," she said.