Band teacher owns alpaca farm

It’s not uncommon to hear a teacher talk about their pet dog or cat at home. However, band teacher Mr. Paul Keefe has turned the land next to his house into an alpaca farm.

Although Keefe has owned a hobby farm for years, the idea to purchase alpacas first came three years ago. “There was a farm near us that had their [alpaca] herd evaluated and they were looking to get rid of some. So we thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to give it a start,” Keefe said.

Keefe first purchased five alpacas, and since then the farm has expanded greatly. There have been four alpacas born on the farm and there are currently twelve alpacas living there, consisting of 9 girls and 3 boys. The ages range from nine years to five months old. The entire herd lives on the property right next to Keefe’s house. “We look out the window and they’re right there,” Keefe said.

Despite the large age range, the herd is well behaved. “For the most part they all get along. They argue and spit a bit at each other when we grain them,” Keefe said.

Yet, tending to twelve alpacas brings many responsibilities. Keefe and his wife together put in about an hour of chores each day caring for them. This includes cleaning their area, feeding them, and making sure they have fresh water. “Once a month we have to give them shots…and trim their hooves,” Keefe said.

We’ve had people drive in and say, ‘What are those animals?’

— Mr. Paul Keefe

The alpacas usually stay in a field not visible from the road, however, Keefe recently moved the three boys up to a pasture closer to the road. Drivers were able to see them as they drove by. “People will just slam on their brakes and stop mainly because they don’t know what they are. We’ve had people drive in and say, ‘What are those animals?’” Keefe said.

The Keefes are also beginning to create a side business from the alpacas. Once a year, when the alpacas are sheared, they take the high quality fleece and send it to a mill, which converts it to yarn. Jodie Keefe, Paul Keefe’s wife, then uses the rest of the fleece to create dryer balls. “We also have a loom and a carter where we can process our own fiber and [Jodie] makes hand loomed scarves,” Paul Keefe said.

The Keefes have also opened the alpacas to the public, through their once a year Alpaca Farm Day at the end of September. “We had our first one this year…and we had about 40 people,” Keefe said.