Winter 2016

Green Dream

With 37 years’ service in a financial services organisation Joe Phelan of Green Alpacas recently saw himself being categorised as ‘ageing’.

What has generated this excitement you may ask? With my kids all independently on their way and suffering from empty nest syndrome I started thinking what I would like to do with my spare time. The taxi service is now redundant. I am not the type of person who is happy to sit back and spend all my time gardening, hiking, enjoying good food and the odd drink – even though I do enjoy all these activities.

I started looking to see how I could retire, but not retire, and being ‘relatively fit’ I wanted to do something active and outdoors. We have a family farm which has been rented out for the last fifteen years with little investment in it so I started researching farming and what I could possibly do. I found that the traditional farming activities like tillage, dairying and dry-stock would require significant capital investments with returns that would be questionable at best, aside from this, these activities are a ‘young man’s’ game. It was during this research that I came across alpacas. That was eighteen months ago. I know a lot more about alpacas today but still consider myself a novice.

The whole idea of alpacas for me was brought to a head, when I won a place on a mature, 50+, entrepreneurs start up programme. I embraced the programme with both hands and took the decision either ‘to do it’ or ‘drop it’ in regard to my courtship with alpacas. Up to now it was a pastime. The course certainly took me out of my comfort zone big time. I really had to find out why alpacas are called “the world’s finest livestock investment” and had to work out whether an idea could be converted into a business.

This article can be found on Page 48 of our Winter 2016 edition, on sale now! Click here for subscription and purchasing information.

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