ANCHOR, Ill. – On Nov. 6, 2012, after all the McLean County election results had been tabulated, Lee Newcom posted a message on his Facebook page: “I won my election but lost my job.”
Newcom had been re-elected as McLean County recorder of deeds, but a referendum asking voters if the recorder’s office should be eliminated by the end of 2013 also passed – 37,699 to 24,207.
Newcom asked if anyone had any ideas for a job.
The first to respond was a high school friend who owns an alpaca farm in California, suggesting he start one.
“I said that costs money and I don’t know anything about alpaca farms,” said Newcom.
But after a lot of research, help from his friend and a trip to the California alpaca farm, Newcom decided to try it out. A couple of weeks ago, he received his first herd of 15 alpacas – one of which he helped birth on one of the California trips. Her name is KKKKatie, after Newcom’s daughter, Katie, who is a full partner in the new business venture.
Newcom found a 5-acre farm in rural Anchor in eastern McLean County and was able to work out a rent-to-own deal. Because six of the alpacas are pregnant, his herd soon will be growing.
Alpacas are valuable for their fiber coats that are water resistant and warmer than wool, he said. The fiber on young alpacas is used in fine clothing; the older alpaca fiber typically is used for rugs.
“It won’t make money for three to five years,” he said. “So I still need to find a job.”