• Last modified 3261 days ago (Aug. 11, 2010)


Good hobby becomes good investment

Staff writer

Jeff Methvin of rural Peabody has sweaters, coats, and even stuffed animals made with alpaca fiber.

“It’s softer than cashmere and warmer than wool. It doesn’t itch at all,” he said.

Although Methvin and his wife, Laurie, still hold full-time jobs — Jeff works at St. Luke Hospital and Laurie is a nurse — alpacas have been a good investment for them.

Alpaca fiber sells for as much as $6 an ounce. Retailers will sell alpaca sweaters for as much as $250 and $300.

The Methvins have sold alpacas from their farm to people in Nebraska and Missouri and even as far away as California. Alpacas can go from between $10,000 and $20,000 and some breeders sell their alpacas for as much as $30,000 or $40,000.

“I wouldn’t buy one for that much,” Methvin said.

The Methvins started their alpaca farm north of Peabody nine years ago. They bought two pregnant alpacas. They later bought two male alpacas and another female. In 2005, their herd of alpaca numbered 11; now, they have 22.

The herd includes 16 Huacaya alpacas and six Suri alpacas. Suri alpacas have silky fur that spirals to the ground as it grows and Huacaya get fluffy like a teddy bear, Methvin said.

Alpacas come in 24 different colors from white to several shades of brown.

The alpaca ranch is more of a love and a hobby for the Methvins than a business. Jeff Methvin said that he is waiting for the herd to reach 30 alpacas before he will start to advertise animals for sale.

The ranch keeps the Methvins in touch with their ranch and farm roots — Jeff grew up on a ranch and Laurie grew up on a farm. Alpaca are easy on small acreages of pasture because they eat selectively. Alpaca farms are allowed 10 alpacas per acre, making the Methvins land of seven acres more than enough for their alpaca operation.

Alpacas are generally easygoing animals. They play and spit at each other but rarely antagonize humans, which is why Methvin alpacas have been featured in Peabody Christmas plays and Fourth of July parades.

“Like any animal,” Methvin said. “The more you work with them the gentler they are.”

Last modified Aug. 11, 2010