It all started with one Alpaca

SOME WERE IN CRAIGSLIST LAND I’m not exactly sure how I ended up on Craigslist shopping for Alpacas? Suffice it to say, I did, and found one for sale locally. I set up a time to meet him. It was Love at first sight. His name was Olaf, his soft grey and white coat had recently been sheared and he had lovely grey socks left. After showing the pictures to Jim his name became Grey Sox immediately. I have no idea how I managed to convince Jim to start alpaca farming, but I did. Even with permission from the boss I was not able to get him at the time, Knot farm didn’t even own a trailer yet. For more in that matter read “Waiting Till The Cows Come Home, Part 1”. I was very glad to know Roy would keep Grey Sox for a few weeks while we figured out a way to pick him up.

Olof before he was Grey Sox at Kinder Farm Park

THE DAY WE GOT AN ALPACA Since Knot Farm had recently purchased a horse trailer to pick up Grahame the bull, I had a way to get Grey Sox. On a sunny summer day July 31, 2019 to be exact, armed with a big truck, trailer in tow and my partners in crime, Hailey my daughter, and Murphy Dog by my side we headed up to get Grey Sox and bring him back to the farm. WooHoo! Last words out of Jim’s mouth “Don’t get yourself into a spot where you have to back up.” No problem, I hadn’t planned on it.

The drive up to Kinder Farm Park went well and before anyone could change their mind, I had an adorable fluffy alpaca making alpaca sounds and generally looking terrified loaded in the trailer. Roy and Danielle armed me with as much alpaca information as they had, I tried to write it down, the whole thing was a whirlwind and I admit I didn’t retain much from the conversation. Thankfully Lesli sent Knot Farm a very detailed email with all sorts of great information. With that we shook hands and were sent off with the best wishes for success. According to Google Maps the farm was one hour and fifty minutes away. I was glad to learn alpacas CUSH (lay down) during transport also glad Grey Sox did lay down.

The drive back to Knot Farm… went fine, for a little while. I kept thinking I was seeing smoke coming from the front passenger side tire. It could’ve been my anxiety over the last trailer adventure, but just to be sure, I pulled off into a neighborhood and checked the tires, NO smoke, not even a burning smell. Back on the road and I don’t see the smoke anymore, but I’m going a lot slower than I would be if I wasn’t towing precious cargo.

About 30 minutes from the farm a guy in a light blue sedan comes up next to me signaling me there’s something wrong. I pull onto the shoulder (which was much wider and forgiving than the last one we had a flat tire on), Hailey and I hop out and check, sure enough, the tire is done. No problem, I have recently become an expert tire changer, with tools at the ready and a spare tire I changed it in 15 minutes flat. Having a flat tire is NEVER fun, but the silver lining is, I got to teach my daughter Hailey how to change one. That was pretty cool. Flat tires still suck. With the spare tire installed and a new sense of confidence we were back on the road.

THE BRIDGE TO TROUBLE I really love GPS and Google Maps, in tandem they rarely steer me wrong, accept when I’m towing a trailer. The sign said “Road Closed Ahead Local Traffic Only”, OK, I’m local traffic and I’m only 5 minutes away from the farm… The bridge was CLOSED! I am now about a half mile down a narrow 2-way road with nowhere to turn around. I was not about to call Jim and admit my stupid mistake (I still blame Google Maps), I am going to suck it up and back up the trailer a half mile, I’ll be a little later than expected, but hey, I got this. It went something like this:

Put truck in reverse, backed up approximately 2 feet, saw tire fall off in passenger side mirror, bloop, bloop, flop, put truck in park, turn off engine, Hailey and I exit truck and inspect tire, tire is on the road completely broken off at the axle, I call Jim:

Me: Hi Jim, we have a problem, the tire fell off the trailer. Jim: You have a spare tire, just put that one on. Me: I already had a flat tire and used the spare. One more thing, I’m on the “Scary Road” the bridge is still closed. Jim: Didn’t you see the signs “Road Closed”, didn’t I say don’t get in a situation where you have to back up? Me: Yes, but it said local traffic, I figured I was local, so I kept going. Besides that, Google Maps said the bridge was open. Jim: Jerry and I will be there in a minute with a tire. Me: OK, but the tire isn’t going to help. I’ll send you a picture. Jim: What do you mean? We will be there in a minute. Me: Thank you, bye.

The scene from our shady spot.

TEAM KNOT FARM TO THE RESCUE Hailey, Murphy Dog and I had a seat on the side of the road. It was a nice shady spot next to the recently released tire. Sitting there we listed to the birds chirp, Grey Sox making alpaca sounds and the lovely sound of an ATV which meant rescue was on it’s way, Jim was able to cross the bridge coming from the farm side, too bad we couldn’t. Jim took in the scene and we all started laughing. Jerry pulled up from the other direction and promptly took the new tire from the bed of his truck. I informed him it wasn’t going to help. He put the tire back and walked over, the laughter continued.

Well there’s your problem!

SO CLOSE YET SO FAR Like I mentioned, we were only about a mile away from the farm, too bad for the closed bridge, broken axle and having to back up for a half mile. I started to back up the goose-neck trailer first, I made little progress. Jim traded places with me and backed up the trailer, with about the same amount of progress. At this time we turned over the reigns to Jerry. He was successful at backing up to the point where the trailer could be turned around. One hour of backing up later… Driving to the farm on 3 tires, flashers going and speeds of around 30 mph the newly acquired Alpaca was delivered to the farm.

He looks so lonely 🙁

It only took us a moment to realize he needed a companion, and with that, the search was on for more Alpacas. Because why Knot?

To be continued…

Story told by: Jennifer Alis





The cows have settled into their routine; the second and third pasture are done, but… in true Knot Farm form, we ran out of high-tension wire. Luckily, we bought more gates than we needed and used those to close in the last of the third pasture fence. Loopy, Panda, Millie, BB and Coco were let into the third pasture to graze on all the fresh grass.

Bull shopping had begun in earnest. There were several Belted Galloway bulls we had to choose from, all of which were HUGE! It was discussed early on we would try to find a Mini Bull and that would make it easier on the girls for throwing their first calves. We stumbled upon a wonderful farm in Ohio called Bruscotter Farm. We spoke to the matriarch Carrie, there were 3 young bulls to choose from, the choice was made to get the Mini bull from them. The plan to drive to Ohio to procure said bull was set into action.


In the meantime, my business partner Jen was busy searching Craigslist for other random farm animals. Alpaca? Why not, because more is always better! Jen found a male alpaca at Kinder Farm Park they needed to find a home for since he had done his job and there were now three pregnant females. After meeting with the owners, a plan for Mr. Grey Sox (formerly known as Olaf) to be transported to Knot Farm was in action.

Now, I always fancied myself as a planner. So, I have a plan to go to Ohio and get a Bull and I have a plan to go to Severna Park, MD and pick up an Alpaca. Only one little, tiny, not such a big deal problem. I don’t even own a Horse trailer!


Monday, the rat race is on, I’m running around town picking up this forgotten piece of lumber and that missing bolt when BAM! I saw the coolest little dune buggy all tricked out on the side of the road, AND a goose neck 2 horse trailer. I proceeded to pull off the road and call the number on the trailer, low and behold the fella selling it was home. We came to a deal and the trailer was now part of Knot Farm assets. I still have all the errands to take care of that were already on the list, what’s one more? By the end of the day the trailer was bought, the tags were ordered, I bought a goose neck trailer hitch to be installed on Wednesday and I was on my way knowing I would have a way to transport livestock. So far so good. But wait, there’s more. On my way home the hitch installer called and informed me he could install on Tuesday, WOW, that’s even better. I called and confirmed with Bruscotter Farm and Kinder Farm Park, the Mini bull would be picked up Friday and the Alpaca would be picked up on Tuesday the following week.


Tuesday Night the hitch was installed, and the trailer was picked up. Appointments for animal procurement were confirmed and travel arrangements made.

Wednesday. The list of projects for Knot Farm employees was sent via fax, memo, email and text. Just kidding, they had vague instructions, water the cows and make fence repairs.


Thursday, O’dark 30. The trip to Ohio begins. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and I am ready to drive, the 533 miles, and estimated, 9 plus hours. The guys are working a Knot Farm all day with their very specific and detailed instructions.

The plan is to meet with Carrie and choose a Mini Bull from the 3 she has once I get there. The drive to Olympia Ohio went great. I made it in time to watch the cattle drive and picked up some pointers on how to herd cows. Of the three bulls we decided on the Dun mini Belted Galloway, we agreed he was most handsome of the lot, he had the best belt and conformation. DONE!

I didn’t think putting a bull on a trailer would be as involved as it was, cows going this way and that way, wrong cow in chute, start over. After about an hour of pure chaos we got him loaded on the trailer for transport home in the AM. The bull with no name is in the trailer stall, and he is MAD! I tossed some hay in the stall, it was not well received, but the real orneriness came out when we attempted, yes attempted is the right word, to give him water, that 5 gallon bucked didn’t stand a chance. He kicked and flung water everywhere. It was quite the show! The sun was setting now so headed into town to my hotel for some much-needed rest.


Friday morning and it’s time to get my newest heard mate home. I reached Bruscotter farm, hooked the trailer up, attempted to give the bull more water, another 5 gallon bucket bites the dust! I would be remiss if I did not share what a 5 gallon bites the dust means.  I measure a rope and the bucket, so I can hang the water pail just off the floor and not be spilled from the road bumps.  I fill said bucket with water, up over the rail it goes to hang on the bull side of the trailer stall.  The Bull sees the bucket, drops his head and charges.  The bucket compresses with the force of the impact, the water shoots up, and I am hanging over the top.  I receive the better part of 5 gallons of water, the first charge.  By the third charge the bull has relocated all 5 gallons of water, and the pail up out of his stall, back to me.  The entire sequence lasted less than 4 seconds and I am startled, wet and ready to return home.

It’s 8:30 am, locked and loaded, off I go, back to Maryland with an ornery bull in my trailer and a big smile on my face. The sunrise in Ohio is all they boast about, such a sight to see. The mountains in West Virginia are all they boast it to be as well, until you get a flat tire. No problem, I prepared for this, with my tire iron and tire ramp in hand I move to inspect the tire, it’s flat alright. I back the trailer onto the ramp and proceed to change the tire in approximately 15 minutes, effectively avoiding the oncoming thunderstorm and deluge of rain. I’m on my way happily enjoying the mountain scenery certain the tire is good to go without further incident. I always try to plan for the unexpected, like 1 flat tire. I had a spare and everything else needed to facilitate such an event.

About halfway home I decided I should attempt, once again, to give him water, after approximately 18 hours in a trailer and two unsuccessful attempts to give him water I knew he had to be thirsty. Since there were 2 completely demolished plastic buckets in the stall, I had the idea to stop at a Tractor Supply and get a nice flexible grain bucket. The staff let me fill it up with water and slowly, quietly, gingerly I lowered the bucket down in front of him. WHAM-SMASH-SPLOOSH! I’m wearing the entire continents of the bucket, again and he is still thirsty. Time to get this guy home.

I’m happily cruising down 95 around Laurel Maryland, in the grand scheme of things I’m pretty darn close to home when, BAM, flat tire number 2 happens. Just to set the scene, it’s 5:15 on a Friday eve, rush hour traffic all around and the smallest shoulder to pull off to safety anyone has ever seen, it’s 95 degrees out and I have a very large, ornery, tired, hungry, thirsty live bull in tow. This is not good!


I have AAA, for obvious reasons that was the first call I made. Now I didn’t know this prior, but AAA will show up if your car or truck has a flat or if your RV has a flat but if you’re carrying a live animal in a horse trailer you are on your own. That lady heard swear words she didn’t even know existed. It took about an hour worth of calls to find someone, but luck was on was on my side. I found a great company called? I wish I could find that business card, after about 5 minutes the fella showed up in his truck and put out cones, we ARE on a major highway. On his way to rescue us, the bull and I, he simultaneously dispatched his crew to pick up two new tires, after about 20 minutes they showed up and changed two tires in no time at all. They put one tire on the trailer and the other on the spare tire mount. I am now $400.000 lighter and once again; I was on my way.

Finally, at dusk the bull was home. I decided to let him out in the second pasture so he could rest and get used to his new digs. He left Ohio as the bull with no name and exited the trailer in Nanjemoy Maryland with the name Grahame. I opened the back of the trailer expecting a bull to come out of the chute kicking and bucking, oh no, he meandered down the ramp and out to the grass looking back at me only for a moment and began to graze. What a crazy 36 hours right? But wait, there’s more!


Stay tuned for the continuing saga “Waiting til’ the cows come home” Part 2

Fences, Gates and Belted Cows, OH MY!

As usual we are very busy at Knot Farm, recently we took some time off all the other projects we have going on to put in some fences and gates to prepare for COWS! Oh My!

With the new hydraulic fence post drivers hooked up to the tractor the Knot Farm crew was able to put in 2 new pastures fully enclosed. With access gates, feeders and water bins in place we were ready for the girls to arrive.

The pure bread Belted Cows were brought to the farm and once in the pasture they immediately bolted and hid. Now we have 5 young female Belted Cows to look after. They are all a little shy, but the sweet feed and alfalfa treats are helping them get used to us. We have named 3 of the 5 girls, Lupe the leader is the biggest of the bunch, Panda is the second youngest girl, she is black and white and the smallest one is Coco because of her coco colored coat (don’t tell the others, she is my favorite).

I was finally able to get close enough to take some good pictures. Photographing cows is difficult, they are terrible listeners. The last one is Lupe the leader of the herd having a discussion with our QC manager.

Solar Kiln

There is so much going on at Knot Farm! This is the solar kiln I built for drying wood, it requires zero electricity and leaves no carbon footprint. The solar panels drive fans that circulate heat when the sun is shining, at night they are off and the wood can cool down. No electricity? No problem!

Why You Should Choose Knot Farm

Maryland Lumber MillThere are many questions people have on whether to purchase lumber from a local lumber mill like Knot Farm and why it’s better than purchasing from a big box store.  There are several reasons to purchase from a local sawmill to consider.

1.  You are supporting a local business

First and foremost, you are supporting a local small business! Supporting a family-owned business puts your money into your local economy, which will create a ripple effect and help other local businesses in the area.  Maybe even yours?

2. Lumber Milled by an experienced Sawyer is more resilient

Much of your commercial stud lumber usually comes from trees that have had just enough time to grow before they can be cut down into 2×4’s.  The time for trees grow and become strong and sturdy before harvest continues to decrease, meaning the quality you receive also continues to decrease. Older trees have had time to develop strength, that directly effects the quality and longevity for your project. Wood that is milled by an experienced Sawyer will be a higher quality with less knots and flaws, with the least amount of waste wood thus creating premium lumber.

3. More Customization and Options

When you bring logs to Knot Farm you have control over the finished product and will receive a personal consultation. You can create and develop the lumber of any variety and many variations, which large box stores are unable to provide because they only market mass-requested lumber.

It’s also easier to match pieces later on if you have to make an addition or adjustment to your project.  Big box stores may have the same type of wood you originally purchased for your project, however the lumber will likely be from a different tree and will doubtfully match seamlessly as it would buying from your local sawmill.

4. You will save money

Time is money, as they say. You can spend hours wandering around that Big Box store, try to find a knowledgeable sales person, or anyone at all if you can. Most times the employee knows as much as you do about wood, logs, lumber. OR- You call or email knot Farm using the “Contact Us” tab, we will set up an appointment that is convenient for you. When you arrive we will be ready with the information you are looking for to find the best product or products for your project. Load you up and your off to create!

The general impression is that using a local lumber mill is more expensive than a Big Box Company.  In some ways it is, but that is not always the case and there are certainly ways to save money.  For example, if you provide your own logs, perhaps from your own property, that will cut down on cost and allow you to have access to beautiful matched milled lumber to complete your project.  Additionally, many sawmills get paid to remove wood, not just mill it. Knot Farm may have extra milled lumber from previous millings offered at a discounted rate, we also offer bulk pricing. The biggest money saving

Discuss options with your local lumber mill.  The benefit of contacting Knot Farm directly is that we can work to customize an order within your budget.

5. Establishing a Relationship for future projects

How great is it to walk into your local market and you know the person behind the counters name and they know yours? I think it’s really grand! We strive to make your experience at Knot Farm informational, easy, productive and FUN! When you come back for the next project or refer a friend or family member that is the biggest complement for all of us on the Knot Farm Team.