A plane seat, a marriage and a few alpacas
Seriously - who buys an alpaca farm ... as tax agents?
Leanne and Tom Butchko became alpaca owners because of a randomly-assigned plane seat.
Their friend met a Californian on a plane who raised alpacas. When the Butchko’s caught the news, their interest spiked.
“Next thing we knew, I was researching alpacas and falling in love,” Leanne said. “Turns out those friends who lived on 30 acres decided farm life wasn’t for them and we were out searching for ‘the farm!’”
Now the Butchko’s live the dream - 15 acres with alpacas from every angle. Their “start up” herd of three alpacas quickly grew to 20-something. They’ve cherished (almost) every minute of the journey.
“I think perhaps the alpaca lifestyle is our therapy, marriage counseling, sanity and certainly our entertainment,” Leanne said.
They are all in. The Butchko’s are members of TAA, SEAA, GAA, ARI and AOBA, and sponsor/attend several shows every year, take available classes and study the show winners. Turns out, there’s a lot to learn!
The couple also sponsors the AOBA Student Design Competition, the Quechua Benefit and the “Kid’s Art” contest for Southern Select show. Leanne volunteered and chaired on the TAA nomination committee for two years.
Now a self-proclaimed “fiber-holic,” Leanne’s favorite part of the industry (besides the alpacas and humans) is the fur.
“Over the years I have fallen madly in love with weaving, dying, felting and I’m still trying to learn to spin,” Leanne said. “The creations are endless. I can’t wait to quit my day job and devote myself full-time to my passion.”
Still curious? Their story is featured on Tennessee Crossroads.
But really, the Butchko’s want you see it all yourself by booking a visit.