Down on the farm and out in tax offices
One lovely day, Kevin Cordeiro took his alpaca, Claryse, for a walk on the grassy acreage where they live. But the wooly pack animal was wily and slipped out of her halter, then wandered around the 2-acre expanse until Cordeiro finally caught her half an hour later.
It all could have been avoided if Claryse hadn’t been wearing a cow halter.
“It was too big for her,” says Cordeiro. “I realized then that I should have bought her a goat halter. An alpaca halter would be ideal, but they are hard to find.”
Such are the challenges of raising a South American beast of burden as a pet – yet popular pets, they are. Sweet, timid and more like cats than dogs, alpacas show affection by rubbing their heads on people’s shoulders and can be trained to walk on a leash.
Luckily, Cordeiro has just enough room to give alpaca training a try. For 15 years, he’s rented an apartment on a hobby farm, now devoted to alpacas but once home to pygmy goats.
“I like living out in the country, where I can watch things bloom and grow,” says Cordeiro.
When the farm switched from goats to alpacas, Cordeiro grew to love the gentle camel-like creatures. Soon, he was helping with alpaca chores, and the farm owner paid him by giving him Claryse.
On the commercial front, alpacas – which are also related to llamas – are considered livestock in the U.S. They’re raised for their lustrous, warm wool, which can be spun into cashmere-like socks, gloves, sweaters and more.
However, Claryse is more companion than cash cow – although she’s getting sheared for the first time this year, and Cordeiro is considering selling the fiber.
“Above and beyond anything, Claryse is my pet, very much like my two dogs,” says Cordeiro. “She’s nice to come home to, she gives me attention and she helps ease the stresses of the day.”
So does cooking.
A self-taught cook, cookbook author and former caterer, Cordeiro says he’s always loved feeding people and showing others how to do it.
Since Cordeiro was a boy, “all he wanted to do was cook,” according to his bio on Amazon.com, where several of his cookbooks are for sale.
“Kevin was not interested in racing cars or playing catch outside. His interest was pots and pans and being in … his mom’s kitchen.”
Cordeiro’s favorite cuisine? Portuguese (his ethnic heritage), which he sometimes fuses with Italian favorites to suit his pioneering palate. One mashup he loves is sausage and peppers, made with a Portuguese version of the meat.
“I love cooking, I love feeding people and I love tweaking family recipes,” says Cordeiro.
He also loves working at H&R Block as an office manager in Rhode Island, where he oversees tax offices in North Providence and Smithfield – a job that requires as much patience as rounding up a wayward alpaca or waiting for an all-day sauce to simmer.
“Making business-to-business connections is important in my tax offices,” says Cordeiro. “We get out in our communities to be good neighbors, and growing those relationships takes time and patience.”
Cordeiro builds those relationships with his neighbors and tax professionals year-round. And whatever the stresses, in tax season and out, Claryse is there to help ease the pressure.
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