When Stacey Ferrier brings her friends Lindy and Starr to a party, they’re sure to turn heads. Their ruffled collars, big brown eyes, perfectly tousled manes and exotic good looks get them noticed. Even though they’ve been known to run a little wild, they’ve recently been invited to garden shows, Relay for Life, LSU graduation parties and even a wedding.
The two alpacas represent just a small fraction of the animals Ferrier cares for at Goula Paradise Farms, her property in Iberville Parish. In addition to alpacas, she owns sheep, mini horses, potbellied pigs, paint quarter horses, goats, emus, chickens, ducks, geese, bunnies, tortoises and dogs, plus a llama, miniature donkey, zebu bull, turkey, peacock and a cat.
“It’s calming to be around them, and I really love sharing them with other people,” Ferrier says. “When I do petting zoos, I love to see how excited people are when they see [the animals]—especially the alpacas.”
Ferrier never intended to become such a party animal. After 21 years of service in the Army living in exotic locales and even working as a Criminal Investigation Command special agent, she retired to begin a tame life as a master gardener and naturalist.
Her shift from flora to fauna began when she and her husband, Dan, relocated to south Louisiana in 2010. She transported her horses from her parents’ Northern California cattle ranch. Shortly afterward, a former colleague gave Ferrier his alpaca herd. The barn door has been open ever since.
Ferrier manages the menagerie herself, along with a little help from her husband, family and a few close friends.
“It is a lot of work,” she admits. “But I had a lot of issues with depression and anxiety from being in the military—especially from working as a CID agent. Knowing I have to take care of the animals is sometimes what gets me out of bed in the morning when I’m not feeling that well physically or emotionally.”
Understanding other veterans feel the same way, Ferrier frequently brings baby animals to Honor Guard events—even those that require dress uniform—much to the delight of her retired military friends and the crowds.
This year, she’ll be honored as a grand marshal of the City of Plaquemine July 4th Hometown Celebration. Probably for the first time ever, the parade will feature a goat on a boat—wearing a life jacket, of course.
Besides appearances at birthday parties, the Burden Corn Maze and other special events, Ferrier welcomes groups to come and tour her farm for a nominal fee, which helps offset $6,000 to $10,000 in annual veterinary expenses.
“I want to start doing more things like going to schools in Baton Rouge,” Ferrier says.
She thinks local adults and children could use a little more education and exposure to domestic and exotic species.
“Two years ago, I borrowed a gold-colored bull. The kids thought it was a lion,” she says with a laugh. “And a grade school teacher mistook sheep for adult alpacas and asked if the goats were their babies. A lot of people just don’t see farm animals anymore.”
But now, they know whom to call for a wild time. Find Goula Paradise Farms on Facebook
FERRIER’S FURRY FRIENDS
Just a few of the animals Stacey Ferrier owns
Johnson, an emu
Preacher, a Jerusalem donkey
SD Ford, a paint horse
Boston, a potbellied pig
King, a rooster
Sweetie, an alpaca
This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.