Ever Had an Alpaca Sleepover? Now's Your Chance!
I have two words for you: alpaca sleepover. Or how about five words: alpaca, donkey and goat sleepover? At Wild Sage Farms close to Thunder Bay, Ontario in the Slate River Valley, you can hang out with fuzzy roommates in the cutest guesthouse ever. Ok, you are not actually roomies. The guesthouse is in a totally self-contained unit in the front half of a charming red barn, while the rear half is the barn where the animals sleep at night. Thoroughly insulated, the guest suite is cool in the summer, warm in the winter and you don’t hear any animal noises (or smell any eau de barn either).
This new unique stay has been lovingly created by Caleigh Campbell and Brent Parres, who purchased the alpaca farm and its critters from its original owners a few years ago. They renamed it Wild Sage Farms in a nod to the wild prairie sage that grows, quite unusually, near the property, and turned the former store into the guest suite, which opened in spring 2023. “We knew this space was special, and we thought we’d like to share the animals with people,” says Campbell. “There was this sort of fan base of alpaca people in the community that love to stop in see them and I thought, ‘well, what if we gave people the chance to spend some actual time here and relax and unwind and have it be their private space for a short time?’”
The guest suite is very well-equipped with just about everything you could need for your stay, from board games and puzzles to device chargers and coffee, tea, olive oil, and spices in the kitchenette. There’s a double bed as well as a pull-out couch, an electric fireplace and a boho-chic décor vibe. And, there are even two windows (with shades) into the barn so you can peek at the animals when they’re in for the night! You can still buy warm, soft alpaca fibre products like socks, boot insoles, and leggings, housed in a small cabinet in the living room.
Outdoors, relax on the shaded porch on the hammock swing, stargaze, have a bonfire or arrange for a meet-and-greet with the animals, whose paddock is just outside the suite. On our recent visit, we spent time with the three alpacas (Blanco, Beauty, and Lanza), Petunia the mama goat and her babies Daisy and Violet, Nitro the donkey, and Wayne Gretzky the barn cat. As we had discovered on an earlier visit, the alpacas are pretty darn irresistible, with naturally mellow dispositions, big brown eyes fringed with loooooong eyelashes, sweet expressions, and soft curly hair that feels good to pet. Nitro the chubby rescue donkey is totally lovable and the antics of the baby goats had us laughing. As for Wayne, he amiably kept us company on the front porch as the sun went down over Candy Mountain and the moon rose over the Nor’wester Mountains. We fed the alpacas and donkey their evening meal out of red buckets, petted and combed them, took a bunch of pictures and just generally enjoyed our time together, surrounded by the spectacular and peaceful backdrop of the gentle hills and flat-topped mountains of the agricultural Slate River Valley.
Campbell, who has an extensive background in both mainstream and holistic health care, has future plans to incorporate wellness into the space as well, with retreats where guests have the option of learning more about complementary therapies. The eco-friendly, agricultural aspects of the farm will be expanded too, first with a large greenhouse built with upcycled materials, to be used as a spot for plants in the spring and summer as well as workshops, events, and a seasonal farm stand to sell items by local growers and makers in the off-season. Truly, Wild Sage Farms a special place for a memorable getaway. We couldn’t stop smiling.
The Slate River Valley area is popular with cyclists, motorcyclists, photographers and folks who love scenic drives. While you visit, consider checking out the area’s attractions, including Early Snows Pottery, and Joyce Seppala Designs. Foodies will love Belluz Farms for fresh farm produce, Slate River Dairy for local cheese, yogurt, and milk, The Bakeshop on Boundary for yummy baked goods and sandwiches and Thunder Oak Cheese Farm for its award-winning gouda. There are exceptional coastal Superior and waterfall hikes not far away as well, at Pigeon River Provincial Park, the James Duncan Nature Trail and Little Trout Bay Conservation Area. The Indigenous-owned Niibing Tribal Tours is a good place for cultural experiences, through tours and workshops on sweetgrass braiding or learning hand drumming around the campfire.
Can’t get enough of farm life? There are a number of other unique alpaca farm experiences, shops, and venues across northern Ontario.
4 More Alpaca Farms to Discover in Northern Ontario
Dare2Dream Alpaca Farm, Espanola/Sudbury
Shop for a wide range of alpaca fibre clothing, yarn, craft supplies and more at this small business.
Lonely Oak Alpacas, Callander/North Bay
Buy one-of-a-kind handcrafted items from this working farm’s store, including hats, mitts, dryer balls, ponchos and throws.
Stokely Creek Alpaca Ranch, Goulais River/Sault Ste. Marie
Feed one of the resident alpacas, and of course take lots of pictures, at this northern ranch.
Dream Acres Alpacas, Matheson/Timmins
Go for a guided Body and Soul Alpaca Walk with one of the many alpacas in residence at this small family farm!