Life on the Farm: Vacation in Alpaca Paradise
“Welcome to the Old Cobb Homestead” is the sign that beckons me forward as I enter The Alpaca Ranch at Cobb Creek Cabins. I have appointment with owner Veronica Taraszewskifor a tour of this prime example of agritourism. This is a working farm with six fully furnished log cabin accommodations. Scattered over her beautiful 18-acre farm are Alpacas, chickens, turkeys, a Llama named Cosmo. And did I mention Alpacas? After all this is The Alpaca Ranch at Cobb Creek Cabins. Tours are offered by appointment only. However, if you are staying in one of the cabins it is part of the package. And as I am about to discover, an amazing adventure.
Veronica meets me at the door of her storefront which is attached to her living space. Again agritourism in action; Veronica’s shop boasts textiles produced from her Alpacas. The walls are adorned with ribbon upon ribbon touting the many prize winning Alpacas who have donated their fiber to this treasure trove. Extraordinary examples of fine craftsmanship make it difficult to get out the door without buying half the shop. Some of the most beautiful Alpaca scarves I have ever seen are on display, made by Veronica’s husband, Jimmy. Not only are the apparel and textiles on display enthralling but the history lesson by Veronica is even more so. I haven’t confessed to Veronica at this point, but part of my eagerness to have this tour is my private fascination for early baseball. Coming here I knew there was a connection to the famous Ty Cobb. Arguably one of the greatest ball players of all time. I learn that Veronica’s “shop” was actually built by John Franklin Cobb and wife, Mary in 1861 as their original residence. Mr. and Mrs. Cobb were the grandparents of Ty Cobb, who often frequented the homestead during his youth.
Stepping out of Veronica’s cozy store we are greeted by a gray drizzle that has threatened our meeting all morning. Undeterred I follow my guide around her shop to the first cabin on the tour. I am struck by its low-slung appearance. It turns out this was originally the smoke-house for the homestead; beautifully renovated by Veronica and Jimmy but still preserving the rustic wood structure. A perfect cozy getaway surrounded by natural beauty and privacy.
I could tell you about all of the cabins, varying in accommodation size, all beautifully restored and renovated. Each fully equipped for an enjoyable, worry-free stay. How tranquil the setting is from deck to deck with views of the creek or the rolling pastures. And surprisingly each spotless cabin is pet-friendly. However, please let Veronica know about your pet when you make the reservation. I am even more impressed to find out Veronica basically runs this entire operation on her own. Wow. This lady is not afraid to work and she obviously loves her job.
As the rain is not letting up we jump in Veronica’s Gator to tour the farm. After a pass along the creek we stop at the artesian well and the memorial to Ty Cobb dated 1941. Again my baseball fascination is peaked and I look across the adjoining meadow imagining a young Ty Cobb playing ball. I have a personal interest in early baseball through my great-uncle Jo Jo White who played for Detroit in the early 1930’s. He knew Ty Cobb and played against Babe Ruth. But my daydreaming is halted when I am introduced to the Cobb Creek Cluckers. The Cluckers are responsible for the dozen fresh eggs that serve as a welcome present to new guests. Just another perk to life on the farm. Then finally an introduction to her boys, the male Alpacas, also called Machos. I am surrounded by these beautiful, gentle creatures. Baseball is totally forgotten. As introductions are made I learn how vulnerable these Alpacas are to other wildlife. With no natural defenses they have to be protected which explains the elaborate quarters they abide in. As a backup defense when the Alpacas are pastured is an intimidating fellow, named Cosmo, the Llama. Well not so much intimidating, but definitely aloof. He wants nothing to do with me, but that is alright the Alpacas have no such snobbery and soon I feel like part of the herd. Veronica explains that Alpaca must be in herds for safety and social structure. So if you are thinking one will make a great pet (plus they are sooo cute) nope, at least three are necessary for the health of the animals.
Next stop, the ladies or Hembras and babies, also called Crias. Veronica explains they must be kept separately unless they are being bred; or the boys will drive the girls crazy. Sounds familiar…. Now while the visit with the boys was exciting, seeing the mamas and babies takes the cake. First I am schooled in shearing and what parts of the fleece are the most sought after, then I am up close and personal with the lovely creatures who provide this product. The sense of family exhibited by the Alpacas is irresistible. Each displays unique personalities all of which are endearing. I am honored as they approach allowing me to touch them. Even the little ones are curious and when I am allowed to hold a young girl I find I just want cuddle with this living stuffed animal.
As we are mingling with the Alpacas Veronica offers to show me how they monitor each Alpacas’ growth and general health. She maintains a medical facility off the ladies’ barn that would rival some veterinarian’s offices. This translates to significant cost savings with (41) animals to care for.
Also an important aspect of Alpaca breeding is tracking bloodlines for manipulation of color. I am reminded that while these animals are obviously loved by their owner they serve a real and important purpose. The production of exquisite fiber that is sold. This supplements the income from the cabin rentals and farm tours to keep the farm in operation. Again, a prime example agritourism in every sense defines the business the Veronica and Jimmy Taraszewski have cultivated.
Bidding Veronica and the Alpacas goodbye I head home realizing I have been there for over two hours. Back at home I sit down to try to put to paper the events of this rainy day. As I try to give a sense of how impacting Veronica’s tour was upon me I soon realize I just want to curl up with some hot Earl Grey tea and wiggle my toes in these new Alpaca socks.
Not long after this visit I was thrilled to become involved in a new agritourism project with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Visit NC Farms is a app that will revolutionize revenue opportunities for agritourism businesses and organizations. The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce will be offering inclusion on this app for Cherokee County Chamber members that are prime examples of agritourism. We look forward to showcasing The Alpaca Ranch at Cobb Creek Farms and so many others in Cherokee, Clay, and Graham county.
The Alpaca Ranch at Cobb Creek
Welcome to Cobb Creek Cabins! Come enjoy our beautiful Historic Property. Learn about our connection with the Baseball Hall of Fame. Stay in a lovely, fully equipped Authentic Log Cabin, two of which were built in 1861. We have handicap friendly cabins, we have 1, 2 and 3 bedroom cabins, we have creek side or pond side and all of our cabins have views of our precious Alpaca.