Janice Ciszkowski gets close to Babs and Miss “B” on Aug. 21 at Happy Snowman Alpaca Farm in Farmington, 253 Knowlton Corner Road. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — There is a new alpaca farm in town that offers products to buy, farm tours and camping opportunities.

David and Janice Ciszkowski and their daughter moved from Massachusetts to 253 Knowlton Corner Road about two years ago, Janice said during a farm visit Aug. 21.

“We have taken time to rebuild the property so it is suitable for animals and visitors,” she said. “We went from one acre to work with there to six and a half acres here.

“We couldn’t have a farm store (there), had to take things to agricultural fairs, farmers markets, etc. We would bring a handful of animals with us to draw attention,” she said.

The farm name, Happy Snowman Alpaca Farm, was agreed upon by her husband and daughter, Janice said. “I have collected snowmen from the beginning of time, love them,” she said. “Alpacas like the cold, it is a visual people can remember.”

For the first five years the alpacas were used primarily for education with 4-H members, Janice said. Now it is a fiber farm – no meat sales or breeding. Some alpacas have been to Eastern States Exposition, also known as “The Big E” in West Springfield and county fairs on Cape Cod, all in Massachusetts, she said. They have also been taken a few times to the National Alpaca Show and the sheep and wool show in New Hampshire a couple times, she added.


“The boys were used with 4-H kids,” Janice said. “They are more predictable, are very consistent, are used to being handled. Bred females can be rowdy, very temperamental.”

There is a large roller brush in the boys’ pasture.

“They love the brush,” Janice said.

Justice and Masquerade have won blue ribbons for obstacle course and costume classes, Janice said.

Llama sisters Cherish, left, and Missy Mae, seen Aug. 21 guard the female alpacas at Happy Snowman Alpaca Farm in Farmington. The llamas work in tandem with one pushing the herd back while the other goes after the threat. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

There are 21 registered alpacas at Happy Snowman Alpaca Farm – 13 males and eight females – plus two female guard llamas. The pedigree of every animal is known and each one has a name, Janice said. The males and females are kept separate to avoid cross breeding between the alpacas and llamas, she noted.

“The guard llamas are sisters,” Janice said. “They work in tandem. While one pushes the herd back the other goes after the threat. (Alpacas) don’t defend themselves, that is why we have the llamas.


“Coyotes stay by the power lines. We do hear them. Domestic dogs running free are the worst predators,” she said.

One day a month is devoted to herd health. Toenails are trimmed, preventatives and treatments for current issues are administered.

The fiber on each alpaca is different.

“Teddy has the best fiber,” she said. “George has won multiple ribbons for his walking fleece but he has a terrible attitude.”

Alpacas are shorn once a year at the end of May or early June.

“It has to be done to keep them healthy,” Janice said. “Alpacas thrive in the cold. You can lose an animal quicker in the heat than cold.”


Some fiber removed from the animals is spun by Janice, the rest is sent to the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool in Massachusetts. It is sorted by color and by grade, made into various products that are available for sale, she said.

While she neither knits nor crochets, Janice spins some fleece into yarn and gives spinning lessons. She also sells spinning wheels made by Schacht and Ashford. “My go-to is the Ashford,” she noted. “It is the most affordable. I love it. Schachts are a little more pricey. Both companies have looms for making wall hangings and scarves.”

The farm store will open for National Alpaca Farm Days Sept. 24 and 25. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be open weekends from then through the New Year with the exception of Nov. 5-6.

Some Peruvian items are available, which tend to be pricier, Janice said. She tries to have affordable things and more local items too. Fleece, fiber, yarns, specialty soaps, themed coffee mugs, pins for backpacks, artwork and winter accessories are usually stocked. Alpaca poo is great fertilizer gardens.

Happy Snowman Alpaca Farm also offers walks along trails created by David Ciszkowski. Some of the 4-H trained male alpacas can be taken on walks. Camps for home-schooled or scout groups are available.

The farm is also a Harvest Hosts site.


“It brings people from all over the world,” Janice said. “People stay in self-contained RVs. It is a free service with no amenities. They make a $20 or more purchase and it gives them a nice place to stay.”

For more information visit the farm website or Facebook page.

Those considering purchasing an alpaca should research first and ask questions, Janice said.

“I studied with a farm in Connecticut for a year and a half before I had my first animal,” she added.

Happy Snowman Alpaca Farm is also home to a pair of ducks, which are more for entertainment than raising ducklings, a rabbit and a flock of chickens. The eggs are also available for sale.

Now that her daughter has graduated high school and her other children are older, Janice isn’t planning to take her alpacas to many shows or fairs.

“I am not real good at selling animals, there isn’t a market for fiber animals,” Janice said. “I am trying to keep my life simple since I moved here.”

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