Big Brown Eyes

At the Alpaca Farm

Story and Photos by Lorie Palmer

A few years ago, when my husband and I were out for a drive from Grangeville, we ambled down rural Talmaks Road off U.S. Highway 95 just west of Craigmont. Several miles in, I saw tufted heads peeking above the landscape. We drove slowly by a sign that read, “Sweet Pine Alpacas.”

Craigmont is only about thirty-one miles northwest of Grangeville but it’s in Lewis County, which is out of my jurisdiction as a reporter over the past three decades for the Idaho County Free Press. That’s why I had never seen this farm.

When I contacted owner Carol Vernay, she and husband Bob were warm and welcoming, as was their grown-up daughter, Brandy Henson. Brandy and her husband Chad also have a herd, which is housed together on the farm with her parents’ animals.

When I entered an open bay filled with mothers and their cria or offspring, the dogs Paca and Mari kept dutiful watch. Mari, a blend of the Tatra shepherd dog of Poland, the Spanish mastiff, and the Maremma sheepdog of Italy, stood nearly as tall as several of the alpacas. “He has a commanding bark,” Bob said, “and they listen if he warns them. And he listens if they warn him of something.”

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Lorie Palmer

About Lorie Palmer

Lorie Palmer Russell is a graduate of Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. She has worked for twenty-seven years as a reporter for the Idaho County Free Press in Grangeville. She and her husband, Valor, have three grown daughters and two spoiled chiweenies.

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