Created: November 04, 2019 07:14 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- A Rochester alpaca farm is making local yarn from local animals and teaching tourists about the process. Now, a state grant could help them grow even more.
“We always joked about raising alpacas because it just sounded like a funny thing to do,” said Brett Pauley, Co-owner of Pauley Alpaca Company.
Seven years ago he and his wife bought a few alpacas, even though they had no background in farming.
"We knew we loved animals, we knew we loved alpacas. We learned as we went," he said.
Now they have 18 alpacas, 12 chickens, five cats, four goats, two horses, and a duck. Their hobby is now a business, the Pauley Alpaca Company.
Tourists come to learn about the animals and shop for yarn and clothes.
"How does fiber go from the back of an animal to a scarf around our neck? We can educate and show that whole process,” he said.
They linked up with the North Star Farm Tour, a group of 20 small fiber producers that open their farms to the public every September.
"Small farms are kind of a thing of the past and to still be able to have that experience of going to a farm that maybe is five acres over 40 acres and see farming on a small scale basis is an experience you can't replace with anything else. It's priceless,” said Melodee Smith, President of North Star Farm Tour.
Last week, North Star Farm Tour was one of nine projects to receive a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, $25,000 that they chose to divvy up among the small farms they work with, including the Pauley Alpaca Company.
"For us, it validates what we are trying to do with agritourism," said Smith.
Pauley is using it to transform a hillside covered with invasive buckthorn.
"What we did with the grant money is we invested in four goats that graze and knock down that buckthorn and help naturally develop that land without chemicals or pesticides,” he said.
Eventually, the goats will develop an additional acre of land, which means more room for the alpacas and hopefully more business.
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