Home > Alpaca Library > NEAOBA Newsletter Articles Archive >
Connecticut's First Alpaca Farmer
Joan McCurry is a happy woman. From every window in her home, she can
gaze at the pastures where her beloved alpacas are grazing, frolicking,
and soaking up the sunshine. Over one hundred lively alpacas reside on
the 16 acres of The Alpaca Connection in Woodbury, Connecticut.
adventure began in the late 1980's. Although she was successful in her
job, she felt that something was missing from her life. A visit to a
friend's home in New York state and a subsequent trip to another farm
changed her life forever. "My friend raised llamas which I thought
would be too large and heavy for me to handle. Then, I went to a farm
with both llamas and alpacas, and once I saw the alpacas, I knew that I
was in love. So, I swallowed hard, did research, then took out a
substantial loan and began the business of breeding alpacas, which has
become my passion. I started with two animals. After several trips to
Peru, I added another 15. I took a big financial risk, I know, but I've
been repaid so many times over. I have never looked back and have never
once regretted my decision. I worked hard to earn my money, and I chose
to do something exciting with it. What better way to enjoy life?"
a short period of time, The Alpaca Connection was up and running. It
was the first alpaca farm in Connecticut and soon became home to the
first cria born in the state, Captain Wooley. Joan relates that it took
her a while to get used to the quiet on the farm and the nature
surrounding it. As a "city girl", she nonetheless always loved the
outdoors. She has said many times, "I've loved this lifestyle from the
moment I started. I feel so lucky to be able to do something I love and
to make a living at the same time."
As a fervent animal lover, Joan
enjoys the personal contact with her alpacas. Gentle and curious as
they are, Joan has been at ease inviting them into her house, to the
delight of her guests. One New Year's Eve, Joan shined floodlights onto
the outdoor deck so that her friends could watch the alpacas play.
"Without question, they were the highlight of the party!"
on, one of Joan's alpacas was born prematurely and was blinded in the
process. The veterinarians advised euthanizing the cria, which Joan
would not even consider. Instead, for six weeks, baby Sylvie's head had
to be kept upright day and night. Whenever the hospital staff was
unavailable for night duty, Joan drove two hours after work, stayed
with Sylvie, then returned to work early the next morning. When Sylvie
was able to come home, she still needed this extra care, and Joan put
her in bed with her. So, Sylvie grew up climbing stairs and sleeping in
a queen-sized bed! One night Sylvie was fidgeting into the wee hours.
Finally, exasperated, Joan said to her, "Sylvie, if you don't settle
down, I'll have to take you to the barn!" Sylvie immediately stopped
squirming and soon fell asleep. All these years later, Joan says,
"Sylvie is my happiest alpaca. She gets a banana most every day, her
favorite treat, and she is spoiled by all my staff. Her blindness has
never interfered with her living a full alpaca life. She is one-half
Accoyo and has beautiful crias. Amazingly, every one of her crias,
including the males, stays close to her at all times. Even in the
pasture, the crias only leave her side briefly to run and play with the
others. They make sure to accompany her when she's called back to the
barn. These animals continue to teach me lessons about life!"
Joan, one of the most rewarding aspects of the business is helping new
breeders to get started. She has clients from Virginia to Maine and as
far west as Ohio. She is available day or night to answer questions or
to rush to give aid in an emergency. There have been several calls to
her in the middle of the night, and she grabs the supplies she needs
and heads to the farm. Once, her clients came home from a trip to
discover Joan delivering their first cria! The camaraderie and
cooperation among alpaca breederscontinue to inspire Joan and to enrich
Joan's clients know and appreciate her generosity
first hand. They know that she is fair and honest with them and that
she will go the extra mile to support their aims and needs. There are
many stories of Joan's benevolence out there, but one in particular
stands out. One of her clients lost a beautiful young female to a
sudden, rare illness. The clients and Joan were all distraught for some
time. Soon thereafter, Joan delivered to them a sister of the lost
alpaca...at no charge. She empathized so completely with her client's
loss that she did the only thing she thought would honor that bond.
Joan has said, "When the alpacas were introduced into my life, it was
like completing a circle that I didn't know had a wedge out of it. they
continually make me realize all that I have to be thankful for. Being
with them all these years has given my life new meaning." Yes, Joan
McCurry is a happy woman.
< Back to Winter 2006-2007
Ann Arbor Alpacas
GLAA member Kara Heinrichs
Learn More >
Neonatal-Birthing Clinic for Alpaca and Llama Breeders
Springtime birthing season is right around the corner!
Island Alpaca Farm will host Dr. Cheryl DeWitt on Saturday, April 12 from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm for a most invaluable one day clinic, featuring new material on cria-care this year!
Light Breakfast and full Lunch included, as well as one Coursebook per farm. New lowered price this year, and registration is available online: http://islandalpaca.com/product_detail.php?p_id=228
MC/Visa and Amex accepted. $195, and $150 for additional farm members. $100 for repeat students.
Discount stays available at The Mansion House, Vineyard Haven. (Indoor pool, hot-tub, sauna, fitness center, and buffet breakfast. Make it a weekend get-away!
Learn More >