Howard W. Hewitt, Grand Rapids, MI. – I am one with the Alpaca. 

Is this really in my job description? Should I renegotiate terms?
Did I willingly kiss an Alpaca? (It was really more of a nose rub!)
Yes, I did and it was awesome. No spitting, no humming – just an affectionate nose rub between friends. The Alpaca was well behaved too!
Dr. Tim Talbott ‘60 and his wife Jane are the proud owners of the Grand Alpaca Company, just outside Grand Rapids.
They’re proud of their 25 years of accomplishment and recognition as real pioneers in this country’s Alpaca history.
But walking the Alpaca ranch or farm, (Tim says either works) you get the feeling they’re just as proud and fond of their big-eyed “babies” as they are the business success.
Talbott is a retired colon-rectal surgeon who started looking for a retirement business back in 1985. Now Jane and Tim have 150 of the curious, somewhat timid, and furry animals.
I was in Grand Rapids to tell the story of how Tim has transitioned as successful and respected surgeon to trusted and respected Alpaca expert. Look for his story later this year in Wabash Magazine.
Tim and Jane raise the animals as breeding stock and sheer all their babies each spring for the highly-sought after soft fiber.
The details come later but the affection the couple show for their animals, calling each by name, is genuine and contagious. We moved from pen to pen trying to convince their ‘babies’ the stranger wasn’t a threat and just wanted to take their picture.
A few were just as curious about me as I was about the 150-pound animals. The one smooching me at top got to following me around and would have followed me out the gate had Tim not cut off his pursuit.
Of course, I have an effect on people that way but just didn’t expect it to translate to these little softies!

In photos: Top right, someone separate those two! Center left, Jane and Tim in front of the home they’ve shared through four children and hundreds of Alpacas. Lower right, Tim gets the "babes" to come out of the barn for photo time by using a handful of food.