OSSEO — Jerry and Wendy Campbell may have cats wandering around their 5-acre hobby farm outside of Osseo, but they’re also proud owners of a slightly less traditional kind of pet — alpacas.
The Campbells bought their first pet alpacas about 10 years ago, starting with just a couple, Wendy said. After the Campbells moved to the countryside 11 years ago, they wound up with a barn and a little bit of land, but they weren’t quite sure what to do with it.
“So we investigated alpacas,” Wendy said, “and we ended up with two. And they’re lovable animals, so we basically grew from there.”
Now, around 25 Suri alpacas can be found roaming around at any given time on the premises of Justorian Alpacas, a business name that is an amalgamation of the Campbells’ grandchildren’s names: Justin, Tori, Ryan and Anna. There are also now two barns on the property, and the male alpacas are generally kept separate from the females.
Jerry emphasized that they were more so pet owners than they were farmers, and while in some cases alpacas are kept for their meat, that is not part of the Justorian Alpacas enterprise.
While the Campbells enjoyed learning about the alpacas and their care and spent the first few years focusing on that, they still eventually determined that the alpacas needed to start contributing to their keep somehow. To do so, the Campbells began processing their alpacas’ fiber and opened a farm store on their property a couple of years ago, where they now sell a variety of alpaca-related goods ranging from socks, hats, yarn and gloves to alpaca stuffed animals and ornaments.
They also sell alpaca rugs that are woven on their own floor loom.
The fiber from alpacas is “nature’s finest fiber,” Wendy said. “It’s hypoallergenic; it’s odor-eating; it’s self-wicking, a wonderful product.”
Products offered at the store are a result of what people told the Campbells that they’d like to see, Jerry said. Their casual socks, which are a little lighter and can be worn year round, and their survival socks, which are heavier and often worn when spending time outdoors, are some of their best-sellers.
Many products at the store are made directly from the Campbells’ animals. The Campbells also belong to a co-op, which helps them get machine-processed products, like the socks, into their store.
With the proper care, products made from alpaca fiber can be used for many years.
As the alpacas will continue to help pay for themselves thanks to their fine fiber, the Campbells can proceed to fully enjoy the company of the animals that have “won their hearts,” according to their brochure.
Several babies have been born on the farm, and attending alpaca shows has helped them learn more about their own breeding program.
The Campbells do sell their animals as well, typically in groups of five or more, as alpacas do better in a herd. Wendy said that they don’t sell their animals one at a time, as sometimes is shown on the internet.
“They need to be with their friends,” Wendy said.
Alpacas’ mild-tempered and inquisitive nature allow those who visit the property to get up close to and interact with the animals. Several of the Campbells’ alpacas welcome being pet.
“They warm your heart,” Wendy said.
The Campbells participated in the 2019 Falling Leaves Art Tour, which was held Oct. 5 and 6, and will be at several shows in Northwest and West Central Wisconsin over the next few months. More details can be found on their website, www.JustorianAlpacas.com.
Visits to Justorian Alpacas can be scheduled by calling 715-597-2229.