House Hunters: The Alpacalypse

I’m not sure if this was a thing in other parts of the world, but in the late 2000s alpaca farms became the “get rich quick scheme” du jour in NJ. I have no idea how this was supposed to work, as I know nothing about alpacas. Were you supposed to eat them? Use their wool for something? I have no idea.

It makes as much sense as Underpants Gnomes

What I do know is that by 2010 the bottom had dropped out of the alpaca market. Alpaca farmers were trying to get out, but unfortunately the bottom had also dropped out of the housing market and the giant farms they built for alpaca were worth less than half what they had bought them for. Many of those farms are still on the market now and the owners desperately want to sell.

Here’s the problem: Alpaca barns and facilities are not suitable for horses without major renovations. Alpaca barns don’t have stalls, as alpaca all live together. Alpaca have feet more like a goat, and wear the ground in their runs and pastures into deep ruts that could be treacherous for horses. Also, alpaca absolutely reek.

The first alpaca farm we looked at had previously been a horse farm and then was converted for alpacas. The realtor told us before we went in the barn that “the owners are going to power wash and disinfect the barn before closing”. I didn’t really understand why this was pointed out until I got into the barn. It smelled like 300 billy goats died in there, and then they tried to use straight ammonia to cover the smell. My husband, who does not like animal smells, refused to go past the threshold. I lasted a few more minutes, but man was that a stench! Nice barn, though. We’re going to look at it again.

Why bother with stinky alpaca barns that need to be refitted for horses? Because alpaca people know how to build a fence. I don’t know if alpaca are wily escape artists, or if other animals just love to break in and feast on alpaca, but alpaca farms have seriously nice fencing.

I’m a bit of a fencing snob. I know East Coast horse people just love the look of a split rail fence, but all I see is broken fences and horses jumping out. Maybe your horses are more docile than mine (your horses are definitely more docile than mine), but mine need solid posts pounded into the ground, 2,000lb break strength, electricity, and at least 5’5″ of height. I’m basically housing zoo animals, here.

Or possibly velociraptors.

And so the house hunt continues…

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