What Creativity Looks Like: Meet Elaine, Owner of Old Homestead Alpacas. She's taking us behind-the-scenes of what it looks like to run an alpaca farm. What an amazing person!

What Creativity Looks Like: Meet Elaine

Welcome back to our What Creativity Looks Like series. Every week this summer, I’ll be introducing you to some amazingly creative women. My hope is as you read these interviews and virtually meet these ladies, you’ll be inspired to create more in your own life.

Let’s get started!

What’s your name (and business name, if you have one)?

Elaine Vandiver—Old Homestead Alpacas

Tell us about YOU. How is your creativity expressed?

I am a beginning farmer—I raise suri alpaca for their superior fiber.  I express my creativity through hand-spinning my farm-raised yarn, hosting my own version of a B&B (Bed & Barn), as well as onsite fun, and educational farm tours for all ages.

What Creativity Looks Like: Meet Elaine, Owner of Old Homestead Alpacas. She's taking us behind-the-scenes of what it looks like to run an alpaca farm. What an amazing person!

How did you get started in your creative practice? (“Practice” is just a fancy word for all the fun creative things you do. :))

My husband and I had big plans to have a big family.  When that didn’t work out, we sought out a new lifestyle—something to give us a sense of purpose, direction, and motivation.  Already living in a small, somewhat rural town steeped in agricultural heritage, we moved out of our suburban cookie cutter house into a 10 acre property with an old farmhouse.  We ‘inherited’ the resident llamas when we closed on the place.  Not knowing what to do with the 10 acres (didn’t quite have a plan!), and without a riding lawn mower much less a tractor to keep the pastures alive and healthy, we had to think quickly!  To make a long story short, we went to the llama’s smaller cousin, the alpaca, and purchased three females with no real intention other than to give ourselves the full country experience and have some cute pasture art!  But as I have been saying, alpaca are like potato chips, you can’t just have one.  In fact, as herd animals, you definitely shouldn’t have just one.  So three turned into six within just a few months.  And before the year was out we had a dozen—pretty awesome considering their gestation is 11 months 🙂  I believe we have nearly 30 head on the farm today, though I can’t be sure!  Naturally, when we had the first three shorn, I had to figure out what to do with the fiber.  As I type, I have a small farm store where I sell my yarn (in addition to Etsy), a dye garden freshly planted, and big plans for my 2016 crop. 🙂

What keeps you going?

My passion for these curious, inquisitive, and charming alpaca is what keeps me going.  Being outside, working with my hands and body, taking care of the land, and embracing this new identity as a farmer also keeps me inspired.

What is your greatest joy?

My greatest joy is building a farm and investing all of myself in it.  Knowing that it is my hard work, my blood, sweat and tears (and my hubby’s!) that built this farm and this life for us.  This runs in stark contrast to my day job pushing papers in a cubicle.

What’s a “typical” day (or week) like for you? In other words, how do you incorporate creative projects into your life?

Well, we both currently work off farm full time, in order to bootstrap the farm.  We hope that changes in the next few years.  Week days start at 4 a.m.  Checking water, making sure everyone made it through the night just fine.  Also looking for indications of impending birth now that we are in cria (baby) season.  I also check the garden, and give everything a nice soak. Then we make the long nine minute commute into the office; work starts at 6 a.m.  We come home at 11 to let our greyhound have a potty break, we shovel food down as fast as we can while checking water and alpaca.  Back to work at noon, and returning for the day just after 3pm. We spend the rest of the daylight hours working on various projects—mending fences, pasture maintenance, taking care of alpaca (nail trims, vitamins, etc), gardening, and if I’m lucky, a little fireside knitting or weaving.

What Creativity Looks Like: Meet Elaine, Owner of Old Homestead Alpacas. She's taking us behind-the-scenes of what it looks like to run an alpaca farm. What an amazing person!

What would you say to someone who wants to be creative but can’t find the time?

If you really have the passion or the drive to bring something creative in your life, you just have to do it.  Squeeze in small blocks of time here or there by replacing something unnecessary (web surfing, TV watching) and slowly build a routine that provides yourself time to do something fun and creative.

What do YOU think creativity looks like?

As a farmer, I’d say creativity takes many forms.  I can simply mend a fence quickly, or I can take my time and make it look as neat as it is functional.  Instead of banging a few nails in a barn stall, I re-purposed some horseshoes I found on the farm to make an interesting hook.  When I needed to make some roadside signs, instead of ordering something online, I re-purposed scrap lumber (from a fencing project) and bought some acrylic paint and made these really cute signs instead.

Wow, what a story, right? I loved learning about Elaine’s perspective on creativity as well as life on the farm. You’ve got to check out her shop, because she has such a great variety of beautiful fiber and yarn. I also love how she mentions “creativity takes many forms.” That has been the point of this entire series: to show all of us how varied and vast creativity really is. I hope you’ve been inspired (like I was!) by Elaine.

Have a lovely {and creative} day!



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One response to “What Creativity Looks Like: Meet Elaine”

  1. Jake Avatar

    Awesome post. This was a very inspiring read!

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