Grazing Our Dreams: Finding Passion Within The Pasture
I was a practicing physician and Dawn dedicated 32 years of her life working in health care, where she became a Radiology Department Administrator. Our everyday felt like Groundhog day–mundane and extremely demanding. To break away from this endless loop, we realized that the only true constant in life is change. So in 2016 we decided to make changes and that started with a major move from St. Louis, Missouri to Duluth, Minnesota. We found a property that was 27 miles outside of town and 2 ½ miles down a gravel road. We were about to find out if the grass was really greener on the other side…
Fast forwarding a couple years later, Dawn and I visited our very first alpaca farm. Dawn experienced love at first with an alpaca who was just 4 days old at the time–Matteo. She has always wanted to have alpacas and we decided early on we’d have just 3. Dawn had already built a farm on the property in Duluth and she needed to create a pasture. Dawn and our neighbor, Bob, cleared a full acre of land, seeded it, and fenced the perimeter. During this time of creating the perfect haven for our alpacas–we purchased a total of 20 alpacas! We quickly realized that all this time and hard work we spent on the Duluth property was just not going to be sufficient for our expanding needs.
We made another big change that following year. We moved to our current location in River Falls, Wisconsin in 2019. When we moved in, the existing barn structure and the house were already on the property but we quickly turned it into our very own alpaca farm! Dawn was an amazing visionary who had a clear picture of what she wanted this property to look like for us. The abandoned horse farm we initially purchased has since gone through significant changes and looks nothing like it did when we moved in!
Eagle Eye Farm was the name of our newest property. We found life on the farm peaceful and full of gratitude. Dawn was the property's and alpacas primary caregiver. Her love for these gentle creatures was so deep that she also discovered an unexpected love for the alpaca show system! This allowed her to travel around the country showing the alpacas she so lovingly cared for. We pride ourselves in sharing that our farm earned the prestige award for being the #1 farm in the country in the small farm division (with less than 20 breeding females in 2022) and in 2023, we were named the #1 farm in the country in medium farm division (between 20-37 breeding females). Can you guess where this led us next? We grew again—and at this time we had about 50 alpacas! We gladly added in more animals to our loving herd: llamas, Valais Blacknose Sheep, Kune Kune pigs, mini Highland cattle, English Angora bunnies, and an eclectic mix of chickens!
Dawn and I had felt truly at place with where we were at–both internally and externally. Dawn’s calling of being a leader on the farm was unmatched, while I found happiness doing behind the scenes work-mails, website, managing the store, creating products for the store, and establishing the apiary on the farm. (I’d recommend hyperlinking this to allow people to click into the apiary website from here 🙂)
In May of 2023, after Dawn became ill while at an alpaca show just a few weeks prior, we experienced the heartbreaking and unexpected loss of Dawn. Her absence has left a huge void that we still feel today. Managing the farm, animals, store, product-production and so much was now all up to me. I was in a period of self-reflection where I asked myself, “did I want to sell this all?” I thought about moving back to where we lived our lives outside of the farm-St. Louis. When Dawn passed, someone gave me advice that really hit home. She said, “make this yours.” So, I did. What started with Dawn’s vision is now truly my life's passion. I have a unique vision too and I plan on adding more animals and services to the farm–all while still honoring the memory of Dawn.
As for me now, I am becoming a Facebook personality-Farmgirl Fab, where I share my personal journey with all that it takes to run a successful farm. I have also created an all natural products skincare line called Farmgirl Fab Skincare. In addition to that, I’m increasing my production of honey and beeswax candles. I have rebranded the farm store, All Things Sheared, and my goals include making the farm more sustainable and this includes adding a sustainability line to the store.
Dawn has built an amazing foundation and I intend on continuing the legacy of the farm. As always, we continue to do significant upgrades to the property as needed. The top priority of the farm is and always will be maintaining a nurturing, healthy, and respectful environment of wellness for all, all while being surrounded by our beautiful green pasture surrounded by our amazing fluffy animals. I look forward to what the future of the farm holds and I’m so excited to have you join us on this amazing adventure!
- Kerri Harting
The Dawn Stewart Memorial Scholarship
This scholarship honors the legacy of Dawn Stewart, a passionate advocate for alpacas. Therefore, we are proud to announce the “Dawn Stewart Memorial Scholarship” as one of our flagship programs. Livestock breeders throughout the United States are experiencing a shortage of large animal veterinarians. This results in a greater need for veterinarians who specialize in care and nutrition of camelids–specifically alpacas. We will provide financial assistance to aspiring large animal veterinarians with a specific focus on camelids.
Students who may qualify for the scholarship will be currently enrolled in their second, third or, fourth year of an accredited veterinary school and demonstrate an interest in camelid animal medicine. Scholarship funds will only be awarded to support education at U.S. based institutions that offer a camelid (Alpaca) program, or classes supporting alpaca animal health.