By Ann Marie Chechalk
Shelley Nottrodt always had a passion for horses. Just watching them in the fields made her happy. Volunteering to help work with horses that had an attitude soon gave her the nickname of “Jolly Ball’ as the horses responded so well to her. Her husband Dave promised her, “that by the age of 50 she would have her own horses,” she shares. Just two weeks shy of her birthday there were no horses in site. So she started phoning around with rescuing being her intent. Five years ago that was the start of her dream as she rescued two horses from off the track. Then the opportunity came for her to rescue her third horse a thoroughbred from the slaughter house. A mare from the University of Guelph who had earned her rite to retire, would come a short time later. And while she did not own a farm yet, she owned these horses that she was boarding out. In 2011 it was time to buy their own place and Dave and Shelley bought a beautiful farm on Fifteen Road. Already set up with barns, paddocks and outbuildings it was just what they needed to be a rescue farm.
They purchased the farm and a foundation herd of Alpacas. Alpacas are well known for their fibre. Continuing with their theme of rescuing they purchased 10 rescue Alpaca. Not wanting them to be sent off to market or ignored in someone’s back field these Alpacas found a new home at their ‘Batchelor Pad.’ “They were not top quality,” says Shelley, “their confirmation, bite or their fibre was not that desirable, so they had no purpose to some Alpaca breeders. They have an easy lifestyle at our resort,” she smiles, lots of pasture, lots of grass to eat, grain each day and hay. And everyone gets their feet trimmed three times a year and they are shorn in the spring. A few Llamas found their way on to the farm also.
Dave does most of the work as he is the one doing the chores each day. Weekends find them both on the farm, cleaning pens, feeding, bedding and most of all talking to and handling each animal.
Dave’s goal for the farm is that all the fibre from the animals gets used. While the fibre is sorted into 1sts, 2nds and 3rds he wants to insure that nothing gets wasted. “It makes the animal more valuable and the breed have more purpose,” he says. Some of their 1sts is sent off to the mill to be spun, or along with their 2nds is often bought raw by local artisans to be spun into yarn for socks or felting and their 3rds will often find its way into bird baskets that Dave builds and sells. In the wooden baskets are pieces of fibre that are not very desirable. Maybe it is not desirable by spinners but it is very desirable by the birds to line their nests. The birds can be found stealing the fibre on shearing days. Dave’s wooden baskets can be found at the farm or in St. Jacobs or at the store owned by Genie and Bob Reaume of Beneath the Sun Alpacas on Hwy 20 just outside of Smithville.
The Nottrodt’s of Timberlane Ranch will take some of their animals to the Ontario Alpaca Show held in Orangeville from April 11 to 13. Workshops, obstacle courses and fibre judging are just part of the event. Participation in the show lets other breeders see your animals, perhaps ensuring future sales or breeding opportunities. A nice ribbon to bring home is also welcome. Fall time will find their animals participating in the local fair at Rockton.
While Dave and Shelley’s goal is to provide the best life for as many animals as they can they are at capacity. Re-homing hasn’t been as easy as they had hoped and they would like to find some new homes for some of their bachelors. Good homes for them perhaps with some artisans who would like to use their fibre for spinning and weaving. “Three animals would be an ideal amount for someone who would like a small herd,” says Shelley. “I feel that Alpacas are a growing industry, they are easier for a senior farmer to manage, baby boomers like ourselves like the luxury of the warmth from the fibre for scarves and sock and insoles and the Alpaca community is very supportive. They are quick to offer assistance with how to care for the animals, how to show them and how to sell and use the fibre and more.” “While we support the industry we also really care for our animals. We make sure every single one of the 60 animals we have gets our love and attention,” Shelley shares. “And after the 60 animals I am number 61,” jokes Dave, “for getting attention.”
If you are interested in purchasing an Alpaca or visiting the farm, Dave and Shelley can be reached at www.timberlaneranch.com