Martin Orr and Maryann Marsh were visiting Orr’s family in Ringgold when their future underwent a sudden change.

The couple had been running an alpaca farm in Florida for 15 years.

“We always knew we’d end up in this area,” says Marsh. “Martin is from Ringgold. But we didn’t think it would happen so soon.”

Although Orr and Marsh were only visiting for a couple of days, they went home to Florida the proud new owners of nearly 30 acres in Trion. Soon they had moved their 40 alpacas, eight llamas, 50 chickens, three horses, two donkeys, one pony, one pig, three dogs and one cat north.

It was home for Orr and the alpacas liked it, but Marsh says the adjustment was a little harder for her. “I’m not used to this cold weather,” she says. “I’ve been wearing my alpaca socks. But alpacas are native to cold climates, so they love it here.”

Orr and Marsh specialize in all things alpaca at TMMA Farms. They sell alpacas and raise them for their fleece, which is softer and warmer than sheep’s wool and is hypoallergenic. For those who would like to meet alpacas up close and learn more about them, they conduct guided tours of their farm. There are extended tours available for those interested in raising the animals, and Orr and Marsh take their alpacas and llamas to visit schools (in October it was Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School).

TMMA Farms is gearing up for its second annual Alpaca Christmas 0pen House in Georgia. Guests will enjoy meeting alpacas “out in the field,” seeing fleece-spinning demonstrations, sipping hot cocoa and munching on sweets and getting “alpaca kisses,” says Marsh. A look at the photos on the farm’s Facebook page confirms that alpacas love to give kisses — to babies, children and adults.

Guests will also be able to shop at the farm’s country store, which features items made from alpaca fur, including socks, sweaters, gloves, scarves and stuffed teddy bears, alpacas and llamas.

The TMMA Farms Christmas open house will run on Dec. 1 and 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. There is no admission fee. The farm is located at 1570 Halls Valley Road in Trion.

Christmas open house at TMMA Farms

When: Dec. 1-2 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day

Where: 1570 Halls Valley Road, Trion, Ga.

Cost: No admission fee

For more information about TMMA Farms: