The latest addition to Pauley Alpaca Company is the first building visitors see when they pull in — just stop right at the “Alpaca Lover Parking Only” sign.
Co-owner Brett Pauley said that over the past few years, the Rochester farm (4220 Eastwood Road SE) has clocked visitors from about 40 countries.
And they’ve managed that with mandatory wintertime closures — until now.
The farm, which keeps alpacas (and goats, chickens, rabbits and a couple extremely friendly barn cats) will celebrate the new gift shop with an open house and bonfire Saturday.
The farm has been around for about eight years, but 2021 is the first year it's been open during the winter.
Previously, the family kept their gift shop in the barn near the goat pens, which has a slope leading up to its entrance in the back.
“As soon as the snow fell off the roof, it’d block our way up, and we’d basically be closed until the spring,” Pauley said.
However, the new gift shop serves as a hand-washing station, a warming center, and a place to buy and sell those super-soft yarns and fiber products — all necessary parts of staying open over winter in Minnesota.
Although the Pauleys are advertising “self-guided” tours of the farm over the winter, the family does live there, so visitors may find themselves in an impromptu guided tour, depending on when they come.
“The most gratifying thing I think we get out of it is the laughter and smiles, and the selfies people take with the animals,” Pauley said. “We love to share that."
If you don’t catch them around, though, here are a few things to check off your list before you leave:
🔲Give the alpacas a pet. The most recognizable two are Eleanor (who has a mop of caramel-brown hair and is likely to crane her head out for a pet) and Ruby (all-black and gorgeous). But they all have names you can learn at pauleyalpacacompany.com/meet-the-team.
🔲Say hello to the "Department of Land Development." That’s what the Pauleys call their goats, who eat the buckthorn and other invasive plants growing on the hillside. Right now, they’re working on this year’s Christmas tree, but they’ll have that land cleared in no time!
🔲Watch out for the security team! Luna and Nemo, the Pauleys' cats, like to follow visitors through open doors. Keep an eye out!
🔲Find your friends in the gift shop. While the lighter-colored wool is dyed bright colors, several of the alpacas’ yarn is undyed (and marked with their faces).
If you go
What: Gift shop opening and self-guided tours
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 and 30
Where: Pauley Alpaca Company, 4220 Eastwood Road SE, Rochester