You get used to seeing cows along the side of the road when traveling through the countryside of Northwestern Pennsylvania and the neighboring counties of New York and Ohio.  But, sometimes you may see another type of animal.  

Near Spartansburg, you can observe wonderful animals called alpacas. Tina Hays and her husband Rich operate an alpaca farm on Smith Eastman Road. It was only a year ago when two women who raised alpacas in Canadohta Lake asked Tina if she would be interested in taking over the business.

"And my response was 'What does that mean? I had no idea,” recalls Tina.  “Totally, completely shocked.  Completely out of the blue."

Tina's father raised beef cattle. Her husband came from a farming family.  So they decided to try their hand at raising the llama-like animals common to South America and bred for their fleece.

"There's been some hiccups.  A lot of learning.  A lot of learning.  But it's been great.  It's been awesome,” says Tina.

The Hays' kept the name used by the previous owners, Annadele Alpacas.  They moved the herd to a 100-acre farm owned by Rich's family.  After one year, Tina now knows everything about alpacas.  For example, she says they need to be in a herd.  A single alpaca could die from loneliness.  Also, a provoked alpaca would not think twice about spitting on you.

“I have been spit on,” says Tina with a laugh.

Tina says alpacas have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.  The oldest in her herd is Suzie, who is 23.  Oh yes, all 15 alpacas have names.

"Yes, they are family,” says Tina.  “My dogs sleep in the house with us but I don't think my husband will let the alpacas stay the night."

The alpacas are sheared in the spring. The fiber is taken to a co-op in New Castle to be spun into yarn.  Fiber is also taken to Massachusetts to be made into products such as hats, gloves, and socks which are sold in the farm's store.  Tina has learned the art of spinning and weaving and makes some of the beautiful shawls that are sold at the store. 

It's been a wonderful year on the alpaca farm.

"I find the joy in knowing all this and having all this is sharing it with other people,” says Tina.

The Hays’ would like to invite visitors to meet the alpacas, explore the store, and perhaps even try out the spinning wheel.  Log on to the farm’s web site,, to find hours of operation and to get directions.