streettalk (2007-41)

Joshua Buckley-Durst Raiser of Peruvian animals in Karns

Street Talk

You have two alpacas and a donkey living behind your house. Why did you decide to raise the Peruvian animals?

We just mostly have them for fun. I have always wanted alpacas, but they can cost more than $20,000. All three of our animals came from an adoption farm. Itâ’s the Hog Heaven Rescue Farm in Pennsylvania. We paid an adoption fee for them, and that money goes back into the rescue facility to help support the other animals. They came in May, and our third alpaca is coming in two weeks. We also have two pigs we are going to pick up.

How old are they, and what will you do with the alpacas now that you have them?

Lucky is about six years old. He was never a show-quality animal. Thatâ’s why he was never part of their [Hog Heavenâ’s] breeding. Socrates is too small. Heâ’s about two years old. His grandfather was second-generation from Peru. His grandfather sold at auction for $265,000. We just got back our first fiber from them. Alpacas are shaved once every year. There is a mill in Lebanon, Tenn. that does alpacas. Their fiber is unique because itâ’s hypo-allergenic.

What about the donkey?

Heâ’s kind of our watch animal. Before Christmas last year he was supposed to be separated from all the girls at the rescue farm, but he wasnâ’t. [Hog Heaven] is just now having all the baby donkeys. Wyatt has a lot of offspring. My wife, Shelly, and I have always wanted animals. Weâ’re both Vegans and we always wanted to take care of animals. We have enough room here because alpacas donâ’t take much room.

How do alpacas differ from llamas? Do they adapt well to the Tennessee climate?

Llamas are much bigger and they have a different fiber quality. Llamas are used more as pack animals, and alpacas are used for their fiber. They are both in the same family, Camelid. Thereâ’s a real push to create an alpaca-fiber industry in the United States. Alpacas have only been in the country about the last 20 years, and when they first came to the country they were considered very exotic. They would typically be in the mountainous areas of Peru. We gave them Gatorade most of the summer to help increase their electrolytes. Theyâ’ve done well. They spend their days just kind of sunning themselves. â" Greg Wilkerson


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