Wise County Messenger

Life on the ranch

Stephanie Cordova finds new inspiration in unique livestock

PACA PARTY — Stephanie Cordova opened Harmony Ranch Alpacas in March 2022 after needing a change of pace in her life. Events at the ranch — from painting classes to yoga — are accompanied by the 19 alpacas that call the farm home. HAYLI WELLS PHOTOGRAPHY

Before Stephanie Cordova and her husband, Luis, opened Harmony Ranch Alpacas, an alpaca ranch in Alvord, she and her family lived a “completely normal neighborhood life.” However, after only about six months in their newly built house in New Fairview, Cordova said she felt the need for an adjustment.

“I was working as a nurse on the insurance side of healthcare, and I knew I couldn’t just work from home sitting at a desk for the rest of my life,” she said. “My mother-in-law had also passed away about a year prior, so I knew it was time for a change… I realized that life is just way too short to live with regrets and not go after something that you want.”

After searching for properties on Zillow and taking a tour of their soon-to-be farm, the Cordovas decided to take the jump. The family sold their brand new house, Cordova started teaching nursing classes at Midwestern State University and the family traded in neighborhood living for ranch life.

The Cordovas got their first alpacas in March 2022, starting with seven and eventually picking up three moms and their three babies, bringing the total to 13 alpacas by September of last year. The family then decided to get in the game of breeding, picking up an additional four male alpacas.

“We were extremely excited to welcome in two new babies around Christmas last year, and our livestock guardian Great Pyrenees also just had puppies, so it’s safe to say we have a lot going on over here,” Cordova said. 

Since opening Harmony Ranch, located between Decatur and Alvord at 3893 N U.S. Highway 81/287, she has been able to build meaningful relationships within the alpaca ranching community, from strangers across the world in Facebook groups to respected industry professionals.

While some alpaca farms operate on the business of producing and selling fiber or showing their animals in competitions, Harmony Ranch focuses heavily on the visitor experience and agritourism. 

“We like to bring people to the ranch to do something that they’re already familiar with, like painting or yoga, so that they have a sense of comfortability in a new environment before we introduce the alpacas at the end of the event,” Cordova said. 

Harmony Ranch offers a multitude of classes with alpacas, from Charcuterie to cookies, and also has an alpaca-themed store on the ranch. Fibers from the alpacas’ yearly shearing are taken to a fiber mill and spun into blankets, clothing and even eco-friendly dryer balls. The ranch also hosts summer camps for kids and recently opened La Vida at Harmony Ranch, a new wedding venue.

LOVING LIVESTOCK — The friendly nature of alpacas have provided a much needed mental health break for not only Cordova, but also many ranch guests. HAYLI WELLS PHOTOGRAPHY


“It’s funny to see how different people interact with the alpacas based on their previous assumptions … We always have the people that are worried that they’ll get spit on because of something they’ve seen on TikTok, but they always leave saying, ‘These are the sweetest animals ever,’” Cordova said.

Though Luis’ grandfather owned a dairy farm in his home country of Ecuador, the Cordovas had very little ranching experience. 

“I think my family thought I was having a midlife crisis when we told them what we were doing,” Cordova said.

Still, the transition from city living to farm life has proved to be an immense blessing for the Cordovas. 

“Every once in a while, I’ll just stop and look around and take in how much time we’re now able to spend together as a family since moving to the ranch,” Cordova said. “It has just been overall great for mental health.”

Cordova said that starting Harmony Ranch and operating the business has been a constant learning experience, from doing months of research before ever purchasing land and constantly reading related material for her own edification.

Cordova said that seeing her children, Penelope, 9, and Lucas, 5, help with the ranch is among the most fulfilling things to experience since starting Harmony Ranch. 

“Lucas thinks he’s Old MacDonald and will go out on the farm with his little cowboy hat and guitar and sing to the alpacas,” she said. “Penelope has been a huge help when it comes to weaning our babies, teaching them how to walk on a lead and even training them in agility.”

While Cordova’s children are still young, she does have a hope that the farm is something that they will continue with as they grow up. 

“It’s hard to tell at this point what their interests will be in 10 or 15 years from now, but this is something that we would love to be able to pass down to our kids,” she said.

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