Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Sunset Hills Farm, fall in love with alpacas at a Pennsylvania farm vacation

stargazerThough alpacas don't have a long history in the United States, according to Brian Leach, who directs marketing at Sunset Hills Farm Alpacas, alpaca farmers are a tightly knit -- and quickly growing -- community. There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy surrounding alpacas, and to many of the people who dedicate their time to raising them, alpacas are not just a business but also a hobby and a passion. As Brian Leach explains, alpacas are an eco-friendly choice of livestock, since they clip the turf like a lawnmower, providing gentle pasture management. Alpaca fleece is also hypo-allergenic and extraordinarily soft, and alpacas tend to have sweet personalities and gentle dispositions.

Sunset Hills Farm sits on 47 rolling acres in Western Pennsylvania, 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh, and a few hours south of Lake Erie and Niagara Falls. With a herd of 100 Accoyo and Peruvian alpacas, by U.S. standards Sunset Hills is considered a large alpaca farm. The farm was founded in 1997 by Dr. David and Laurye Feller, who take tremendous pride in their award-winning alpaca herd. As Mr. Leach tells me, "We're a farm that produces champions; real stars have a permanent home here."

stargazer-livingSunset Hills Farm has become more diverse and dynamic as it has grown - beyond specializing in breeding and selling champion alpacas, the farm also offers an onsite alpaca boutique called Alpaca de Moda, a B&B with two distinct properties, the Sunrise and the Stargazer, and property rentals for special events, including weddings. At Alpaca de Moda, the farm sells its own luxurious, multi-award winning alpaca yarn and locally hand-knit sweaters, hats, and gloves plus imported alpaca garments.

All kinds of guests come for the B&B. Some are interested in raising alpacas themselves (and some will be by the time they leave!), while others are traditional vacationers simply looking for a nice place to stay while they enjoy the golf courses, festivals, hiking, biking, orchards, and farmers markets of the surrounding area. For those interested in raising alpacas, guests have the option of shadowing the farm manager, and helping with chores that may include feedings, grooming, and shearing the alpacas. Guests are also welcome to collect eggs from the farm's small flock of a dozen chickens.

sunrise-cabing-porchGuests choose between two properties, the Sunrise, a traditional three-bedroom, two bath log cabin, or the Stargazer, a two-story, two-bedroom, two bath apartment built into the alpaca barn. Rates for the B&B start at $99/night. Brian stresses the Stargazer's unique appeal: from the inside, it looks like country cottage while from the outside it's an old-fashioned barn. The Stargazer's windows also look directly out onto the alpaca habitat, and toward the surrounding hills and valleys. The Stargazer close in winter, while the Sunset is available for year round stays. Delicious breakfast options might include a frittata or quiche, including ingredients from the garden, or fresh baked goods from local bakeries or the farm kitchen.

For more information about Sunset Hills Farm, including contact information, check out the listings for the Stargazer and the Sunrise on Farm Stay U.S.

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