We herd you’re back

Scott Burnett drives by Greenbank Farm everyday on his way to work at Anacortes High School. As he passes the farm, he misses seeing the alpaca herd that once grazed in the fields.

To solve that problem, he decided to lease the field and put some of his own alpacas on the property. As owner of Alpaca Familia, he breeds alpacas from his South Whidbey Island home near Langley.

“We’re excited about it,” Burnett said. “It’s going to be real good for the community.”

Burnett met with Greenbank Farm officials Wednesday to sort out the last details of the lease.

“Everybody is very excited. We’ve missed the alpacas,” said Laura Blankenship, executive director for Greenbank Farm.

She expects that Burnett will fill out the lease of previous tenant Dick Whittick, which ends in July, and pick up a three-year renewal option.

The pasture has been virtually alpaca free since September 2004 when Whittick sold his alpaca herd.

Burnett said he hopes to have 10 alpacas at the farm by the end of the month. He hopes to slowly increase the number to 25.

Even though the alpacas will be visible to the public, they won’t be able to get close to the animals, except during major events at Greenbank Farm.

Burnett, along with his wife Marie and children, has bred alpacas on Whidbey Island for the past four years. They have 35 alpacas on their Langley farm, consisting of 30 females and 15 males. The herd will expand in the coming months when seven cria (baby alpacas) are born.

He operates his alpaca business in addition to his work as a teacher in Anacortes. It provides a chance for his five children to learn a skill. He said his children are involved in every aspect of alpaca raising from breeding to maintaining each animal’s health.

“It’s an opportunity that many families don’t have to work together,” said daughter Lucy Burnett, who is producing felt as part of her senior project at Anacortes High School.

In addition to making fabric, Alpaca Familia sells some animals and also produces fiber and yarn.

Burnett is having his alpacas sheared May 28 and May 29. Other alpaca owners on Whidbey Island are bringing their animals as well for an islandwide shear-in.

In addition to the business, the Burnetts and their alpacas participate in a 4-H Club. They donated several alpacas to the program which serves about 12 kids. Participating kids are responsible for the care and upkeep for the animals. Several of the 4-H animals will be placed at the Greenbank Farm. Blankenship said the Burnett’s commitment to the 4-H Club make them a good tenant.

Brunett said that he will be able to check on the alpacas several times a day in Greenbank. But he’s not worried about how they will fare in their new home. The pasture is fenced, and he hasn’t heard of any problems with animals or people harming alpacas at Greenbank Farm.

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