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Alpaca your bags: Bed and breakfast serves unique experience

Alpaca your bags: Bed and breakfast serves unique experience

Mike Fagan demonstrates the proper way to prepare and shear an alpaca to the Old Irish Bed and Breakfast staff in Denton. The Bed and Breakfast was opened in August 2012 by Jim Patrick and his wife Rita.

Alpaca your bags: Bed and breakfast serves unique experience
April 11
17:35 2018

At 7:30 a.m., Jim Patrick is busy tending to business on his farm. Around him, geese, ducks and chickens strut and roam freely across the grounds.  

But today is all about the alpacas.

“I’ve always loved animals,” Patrick said. “As I’ve told people many times over, critters never did me wrong — people did. We started with three alpacas, and now we’re up to about 25. One time we had around 100.”

Patrick is the owner of the Old Irish Bed and Breakfast in Denton. Unlike other local properties, Patrick said he runs a “holistic agri-property” with a farm full of alpacas and llamas. For everyone there — guests who are staying at the bed and breakfast and those working with the farm —  it is alpaca shearing day. It’s an event that happens annually on the farm in preparation for the Texas summer.

“It’s seasonal work, we go from here in the south and make our way up north,” alpaca shearer Mike Fagan said. “It’s been pretty good. We’ve been working with them for a couple of years now. You get pretty well looked after, especially that breakfast [we had] this morning.”

As necessary as it is, Patrick tries to make it as fun as shearing animals can be. He invites guests who are staying to help out in exchange for a free night at the bed and breakfast. They have breakfast together and exchange what Patrick calls Irish jokes to keep the mood light.

“He invited us to come back for the shearing,” guest Stephanie Manear said. “We love it here. He’s such a good innkeeper, and the animals are definitely a plus. This is a very unique one.”

The Old Irish Bed and Breakfast was opened in August 2012 by Patrick and his wife, Rita. Before establishing it, Patrick had a long stint working in consulting and business operations with big corporations like American Airlines and General Electric. The two were looking at properties, but Patrick said his path quickly took a turn when the two became victims of mortgage fraud.

“We had a huge home in McKinney that we had sold on a lease purchase,” Patrick said. “It came back to us. [It was] in the height of the mortgage fraud that was going on, and when it came back to us, [we realized] people were selling homes fraudulently.”

As a result, Patrick said the entire home lost its value, forcing them to pay to get rid of the house. After taking a short trip down to South Padre, the idea to start a bed and breakfast was sparked.

“We stopped at bed and breakfast, [and] it was terribly run,” Patrick said. “We looked at each other and said, ‘With what we have left, we could do this better.'”

As the farm and the bed and breakfast began growing in size and development, Patrick said bringing in alpacas felt almost like fate.

“I didn’t know what alpacas were [at first],” Patrick said. “We went out to look at a place up in Gunter that had alpacas. The first one I looked at was called ‘Lonestar Trinity.’ Now mind you, I live on North Trinity Road. The shamrock is representative of the Trinity. And here’s Lonestar Trinity just looking at me.”

Ever since then, Patrick said he fell in love with the animals.

“They don’t bite you,” Patrick said. “They’ll cuddle with you.”

After the shearing, Patrick collects the fleece and creates rugs he sells to various customers. He even has an Etsy page for them. Patrick says this is a kind of harvest for the farm.

As for the rest of the bed and breakfast, the experience is just as unique. Patrick said the two began looking at tiny houses, but found they were too expensive for the amount of homes they wanted to have.

“Also, anybody over the age of 30 wasn’t going too climb up into the wall,” Patrick said.

Instead, throughout the property, there are a collection of manufactured homes Patrick said are eco-friendly. The property utilizes solar energy, LED lights and water collection, an aspect that Patrick said he has been passionate about.

“If we’re going to be good custodians of the environment, then it all starts here,” Patrick said. “We do that to make ourselves different.”

Now, Patrick said the property is a place where people can experience a bit of romance and get away from the chaos, even if it may be for a short while.

“80 percent of our guests come from one to one and a half hour away, so there are a lot of getaway-type vacations,” Patrick said.

With the stress of current events, Patrick said he hopes guests can simply have fun with the alpacas.

“We don’t make that much money off the business here,” Patrick said. “It’s rewarding for us to keep the people happy. It’s rewarding to us to be able to get rid of the stress. There’s too much stress going on right now.”

Featured Image:  Mike Fagan demonstrates the proper way to prepare and shear an alpaca to the Old Irish Bed and Breakfast staff in Denton. The Bed and Breakfast was opened in August 2012 by Jim Patrick and his wife Rita. Kelsey Shoemaker

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Amy Roh

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