Affectionately named after the lifestyle they were seeking, Doug & Carolyn Lilleyman chuckle and admit there is less “kickin’ back” and relaxing than they originally hoped for. Yet, through all the hard work and the steep learning curve that comes with owning and maintaining an alpaca ranch, they wouldn’t change a single thing about their lifestyle and business.
After owning and running the Cedars Cottage Resort on Lake Eugenia for a number of years, Doug and Carolyn decided it was time for a change. After a hard day’s work managing a resort they still had to be available by phone for any after-hours emergencies. Now, their after-hours activities include kickin’ back on the patio with a cup of tea and watching the crias frolic around the pasture, without ever being interrupted by the phone.
Years ago they bought a gorgeous ranch on the West Back Line between Flesherton and Markdale and in 2009, their business began to truly take shape. By 2011 they were ready to expand the ranch with a new barn, as their herd had grown to 31 alpacas!
Currently, Kickin’ Back Alpaca Ranch offers two tour options; The Private Alpaca Farm Tour which is a one hour tour suitable for 1-9 people and The Alpaca Lovers Farm Tour, which is a 1.5-hour farm tour for a maximum of 9 people and includes a 12” stuffed toy made from premium alpaca fibre as well as a 10% discount on any purchase made at the gift shop.
The gift shop is a must-see. A great selection of premium, handmade and sustainable alpaca fibre products are offered. Labelled at the moment of sheering and tracked through the milling process, each product’s fibres can be traced back to the alpaca they originated from. After being sent to the mill where it is made into batts (fibres that have been carded on a drum carder and can be easily pulled apart) Carolyn felts the fibres to create gorgeous hats, mitts, insoles, ponchos, shawls, scarves, and area rugs. These items are softer than you can imagine and you’ll understand why when you feel the fleece of the alpacas on your tour.
As well as producing new products Carolyn also upcycles scarves that would otherwise end up in a landfill somewhere. Lining scarves with fibres gives them a facelift while also improving the look, feel, quality and warmth of the product. Sustainability and environmental consciousness are at the core of this business. As well as their upcycling efforts, the business itself has created less than 20 pieces of garbage since January of 2018. Litterless packaging of their batts and products and the utilization of compostable materials whenever possible has made this impressive feat possible.
It’s obvious from the moment you step on to this ranch that Doug and Carolyn love what they do. These gentle animals receive all the love and care they deserve. The barn is comfortable and clean, the alpacas are happy and content. It is easy to forget about the worries of the world when you’re there to visit.