Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Alpacas? By Paul.

Every time someone asks, "so what made you guys get into Alpacas", the Hussy likes to embarrass me and , erroneously describe how I (Paul Bunyan; August IV) was out to make millions and never have to work again. Now, as I have already stated, that is just crazy. I may not be all that bright but I would have to be an idiot to think that by purchasing two pregnant alpacas I was going to be joining the Fortune 500. And, I already have what I believe is one of the best jobs in the world prolonging life 36 hours per week with some of the greatest people in the world. I don't ever take any work home with me and I have 4 days off every week. Instead, my explanation regarding the alpacas is rather boring and as follows.

It all started about five years ago when we had some friends over for dinner. Kerry, one of the Hussy's grad school mates, said you guys should raise alpacas. She went on about how one of her colleagues raised them and how cool they were and that he had just sold a few and made a bunch of money. Kerry had taken care of the alpacas for him and she said they were easy to handle and care for and they didn't take up all that much space. I am the first to admit that the potential to make a little money raising livestock was exciting.

People will tell you I have sort of an addictive personality. In college I was addicted to everything that had to do with weed; creatively smoking it, selling it, and growing it. For a while I was into freakish animals you could house in an aquarium. All at once I had 3 snakes, an African horned toad, 3 turtles, a monkey tailed skink and 17 other lizards and a lot of aggressive fish. Now I am very addicted to projects. I need to have somewhere to focus my energy otherwise I go a little crazy. So after just one conversation with Kerry I was addicted to alpacas.

In the proceeding 6 months I spent hours (100's) studying them on the Internet and subsequently signed up for a seminar at one of the most well known farms in the industry and I talked my father into coming with me to learn "How to Buy, Breed and Succeed in the Alpaca Business". We flew to Oregon to Northwest Alpacas and we/I apparently learned everything except the "Succeed" part. I found two females on the farm that were both pregnant and about to give birth in the coming month or so and I just had to have them. I was all about "jump starting" my herd. In order to get into the business fast I had to grow my herd fast. With two pregnant females that would soon deliver then be re-bred before they got a long ride in a truck back east I would do just that. I would have a herd of 6 alpacas in just over a year. So against my father's better judgment I left Oregon the proud owner of two of the nastiest alpacas available in the country and it has been a struggle ever since.

My thinking went like this: I really wanted to raise animals on this beautiful piece of property we have in rural Vermont. I wanted to have a small farm and so did my Hussy. It is important to me to raise my children creating a work ethic and an environment that only a farm, no matter the size, can provide. I was intrigued by the challenge of raising livestock having only raised fish, reptiles, and some canine companions. Alpacas would be a perfect fit for my wife. Fiber arts were and still are one of her passions and alpacas produce some of the nicest fiber in the world. And in all honesty, I dreamed of some additional income from the animals. My business plan had us selling an alpaca or two a year to supplement our income.

One can make millions in the alpaca business but not on this farm. It takes a much larger pasture area and a much greater initial investment than I had to offer. I have made quite a few mistakes along the way, the biggest being the first two females I chose as my foundation stock. It has been hard work (harder than expected) and it has been quite a learning experience.
But these are the reasons I did it and I am not done yet. I am confident that if I continue to work at Happy Hollow Alpacas I can make it everything I hoped it would be.


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