As we watched the ice build up on our barn, we tried desperately to get the ice off the roof structure but nothing seemed to work.  December 26th, 2013 we had hope…the sun came out and we started seeing the ice chunks crumble to the ground.  My 88 year old father in law and my husband wanted to try another attempt at getting the ice off the roof.  I was adamant that we head into town to look for a new  TV  for the in-laws new retirement home  and utilize the Boxing Day Sales for their new purchase.  Two hours later upon our return home, the barn had collapsed.  Had we not been shopping, my father in law, my husband and myself would have been in the barn, and well, I do not need to paint the picture.  Things could have been much worse! Someone was looking after myself and my family this day!

The panic that filled my heart  as I raced to the barn expecting the worst! As I breathlessly arrived into the rubble of a barn, I started quickly counting dogs, pigs, and on to the alpacas. It was then Garth told me one was pinned and it was one of the babies.  It was little Rosie! Her leg was under the centre of the barn and with the weight of the steel and ice, I knew it was grim. While the men desperately tried to free her from under the rubble,  I reached the answering services for the Large animal Vet on Call to have him quickly come to humanely euthanize little Rosie so she would not suffer any longer. We finally got the weight pried off of her, and I managed to pull her to a nice comfy mound of dry straw and held her until the vet arrived. What felt like an eternity, he arrives, she was at peace.

It was not long that the word got out, and farmers, friends, family arrived at the farm to lend a hand. The main goal was to secure the building so the animals would have access to water, some shelter and get out of the ice coated pastures. The risk of them breaking a leg, or straining was high.  Our next step was to place a call to the insurance company.

The Broker would not even come out to access our situation, stating “No insurance company would insure for snow and ice”, really? We live in Canada?  Wow! Perhaps it was our mistake for not understanding what our policy covers,  I never would have imagined that our barn would come tumbling down as this was a strong structured barn that had had more snow build up in the years past.  I am also not an insurance “type” person, I leave insurance up to those who are professionals, I know alpaca not insurance mumbo jumbo!!!

With the bad news from our Broker, and being financially strained to a cancer diagnosis in 2010, it was a sign to leave farming permanently. I put  a Distress Sale on all the animals, and needed them to go to a better home, a home where they had proper shelter as I could not provide them with one.  I was ready to lie down into a fetal position and give up! This is when my community started surrounding me with love and cheering me on. My community is not only where I live, it is whom I surround myself with. Friends started arriving with food, lovely messages of encouragement was sent to us, phone calls, emails, text messages, all overwhelming as I could not keep up. Encouraging words, people who believed in us, kind hearts that kept pushing us up when we were down, total strangers asking how they could help.  My husband piped in “It is not a sign for you to get out, but for you to stay in“.

Work crews started arriving the next day, to secure the “structure” for temporary shelter. Friends, family and strangers came to help out.  We needed a plan, we needed a direction. Both myself and my husband were in shock, it wasn’t until a very good friend of ours Zachary Steel came to the rescue and took charge. He had been our farm help during the summer months and it was his second home.  He was excellent in this roll, and helped direct everyone with what needed to be done. He helped us put a disaster plan in place, along with so many others that day. Thank you to all my friends, family and strangers (who are now friends for life) for coming to help us. The food donations from Fred and Sandy from Archibalds Apple Orchard’s, Pat and Barry from Hamptons B&B,  Chef George, Marilyn Morawetza, Rainy Venne,  SASS Program Parents and their friends was absolutely appreciated. Everyone was so helpful and thoughtful, especially when Garth and I where not in a frame of mind to think about these things….we were in shock and just trying to cope the best we could! To the special people I have not mentioned for brining coffee out to the crew, Brian & Dawn, Jayne Mack, Rainy, Sherrie…everyone. Sorry if I missed anyone, just let me message me so I can say thank you.

January 31st there was a Wind Chill Warning. This had been the worst winter ever!  The goal was to get the animals to their new temporary homes, as there was not adequate protecting from the winds and the weather.  It was a gracious neighbourhood farmer who loaned us their truck and livestock trailer  so we could move the majority of the animals in one shot, instead of multiple trips. Thank you Ian and Farmer Jenny Knox for everything. This task was a daunting task, and we kept it on the quiet side, as we knew many people wanted to help in every way.  With alpacas, they can become stressed over the littlest thing, and already they were under stress from this whole ordeal.  We needed help from fellow alpaca owners who understood how to handle the animals and get the job done. It was with great kindness that Robert and Kristi Mercier from Harmony Meadows travelled 1 1/2  hr to help us with this process.  With the kindness of local farms in the area, we were able to move ALL the animals prior to the pending horrible weather and get them to safe havens. Thank you to  Jan and John Scanlon at Highland Creek , Dean and Chantelle  from CMB Racing , Alexa from Winds of Willomy and MaryAnn from Nova’s Arc. It is so wonderful to have my critters so close to home that I can deal with on a daily basis.  There were many people who contacted us and offered space for the animals. Opening your home for our animals meant the world to us…THANK YOU! I have to get a special thank you to Carey Smith…he is our official alpaca wrangler captain.  He new nothing about livestock, and came to help just because.

Once the animals were tucked away in their safe havens, the next task was to dismantle the rubble.  Many hands made for light work and the barn came down.  I am not sure I can fully express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported us during the past few weeks. Since December 26th when our barn collapsed, many people have reached out to us to show their love and support. The tears I shed are those not for what we are going through, but because the generosity and compassion of complete strangers from all over the world, friends and family. The generosity is not always of monetary value, but a prayer, time,  food, or people just wanted to help me  and the critters at 1 Stop Alpaca Farm. I am humbled by all the love we are receiving and your kindness is the best gift you can ever give to someone.

Please follow us on Facebook fan page for updates  or watch for updates on our blogs.

For more information on how to help or for information on Raise The Barn 2014 Fund Raiser coming this April or May 2014, contact Tamara at

Anyone can donate to Raise The Barn 2014 Fund at Scotia Bank Acct #: 951820556580  There are many ways to help: providing funds, donating time, volunteer special skills, be apart of of “feed the working crew” team, provide prayers or share our story.  We now see that we need to get our babies home.  I have 4 farms that I visit to take care of alpacas, and pigs and other critters.  The stress of the ordeal has taken a toll on myself and the animals. We have lost one more alpaca due to the stress of the situation, but fortunately I  was able to save 10 more.

Thank you EVERYONE for you support and continuous positive energy being sent our way.  We are waiting for Mother Nature to cooperate, and ready for the rebuild. Stay tuned to our Blog for updates on Raise The Barn 2014!!!  Bless everyone how has filled our hearts with kindness.

 Waiting for Mother Nature to end her madness to start rebuilding!!!!  Looking to rebuild in April or May….hurry up spring!!!

Thank you Neil McArtney from Rogers My Community is Durham for getting out our story. Fantastic Job.

My Community Durham