Rapha Shalom (raw-faw' shaw-lome') seems like a strange name for an alpaca farm but its meaning is at the heart of our desire for all who visit. Loosely translated from Hebrew, its meaning is 'Healing Peace'. Situated near Shipshewana, IN, in the middle of Amish country, Rapha Shalom is carved out of 20 mostly wooded acres of Esther's family farm. Esther and her cousin spent many hours playing on this land as young children and it was the site of many good family memories. Esther always wanted to live near 'the woods', as the land was lovingly referred to in the family, and with inheritance and family generosity, the beginning of that dream was realized and Rapha Shalom was born. Through many hours of 'blood, sweat and tears' the crop and woodland was transformed into a park-like setting with towering maple and hackberry trees, with hostas, ferns and other shade loving plants scattered below.
Our 'love affair' with alpacas started innocently enough when Esther saw an advertisement for the National Alpaca Farm Days placed in a local advertising paper by Windy Hill Alpacas in Pioneer, OH. The alpacas in the ad were so adorable. She sent a copy of the ad to Roger and we decided to make a visit. For Roger, it was love at first sight! Through the patience of Jerelyn and Jim Spangler who answered myriads of questions, our love and appreciation of these gentle animals was born. It took three years though before we decided to take the plunge to start an alpaca farm.
Our foray into the alpaca world started in the fall of 2012 with the purchase or our original four boys. We hastily put up a temporary fence in our back yard and cleared out part of the barn for their shelter. Samson, Sebastian, Sergio and Shinook were six months old when they came from Windy Hill Alpacas to occupy our yard and our hearts. We learned a lot about alpacas from Jerelyn, who has become a friend and is a wealth of information, and from our first four boys. It became evident that they could eat a lot more grass than our back yard could produce and they needed a lot more room! The following summer we had a barn raising by people in our church (and other friends we had not yet met). We also built a lot of fence, thanks to family and friends. Now with room to grow, the boys were joined by three girls, Nikki, Cocoa and Sadie. At this point all of the herd had medium to dark colored fleece so we added Eva and Sako to balance out the range of colors.
We decided to become 'alpaca parents' in 2014. We waited anxiously for the long 11 1/2 months but were disappointed that though the girls showed signs of being pregnant, none of them had crias in the spring. We tried again in the summer of 2015 and waited for another year! Nikki rewarded us with a cria on August 10, 2016. Both Esther and Roger grew up on a farm taking care of animals, and it became evident that Nikki was in labor and was in trouble. Somehow the cria had gotten its head turned sideways in the birth canal and could not be born without assistance. After some late night phone calls and some physical assistance (and mouth-to-nose resuscitation) from Roger, little Ewan was born.
So that completes our alpaca family for now. They truly are remarkable animals. Come see them for yourself it you want to risk falling in love with them. Amanda refers to them as 'Dad's therapy'! Or as a mug made by Abby for Roger says, 'Keep calm and kiss an alpaca!'
MEET OUR FAMILY