- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

TYNDALL, S.D. (AP) - Not many farms in South Dakota can boast to hold both alpacas and camels, but Master’s Corral can.

In addition, the farm also has several different types of birds, a few deer and donkeys.

“When I bought my house in 2001, I knew I wanted to raise something exotic,” said Jeff Rueb, owner of Master’s Corral.

He started with alpacas and pheasants and, after adding more pens and fences, found animals that he thought would work well with kids and the local community.

Rueb has previously owned wallabies, goats, a zebra and a zeedonk, a donkey-zebra mix.

“I have what I can afford to keep and maintain,” he said.

Rueb co-owns Master’s Corral with his father Robert, who has his own farm close to Rueb’s. Grown camels, horses and alpacas are kept on his property.

Between the two farms, Master’s Corral currently has 51 alpacas and 11 camels.

“We have over 80 head of animals,” Rueb said.

Rueb has permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and Animal Control that allow him to raise these types of animals. He uses the farm to give tours and occasionally take baby alpacas to local nursing homes and the humane society, the Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan reported (https://bit.ly/1UVchiL ).

However, Rueb’s favorite place to have the animals is at home.

“It’s easier for people to schedule a tour and come themselves,” he said. “I don’t charge for tours. I do it for the love of the community, the kids and the animals.”

Some of these animals have stories to tell, like Rachel the yearling camel. Born on Rueb’s farm missing the two toes on her front left foot, she had a lot of difficulty walking around. This past April, she received a specially-made boot that enables her to walk and run freely.

Due to the excess of animals, and the specifications of his permits, Rueb is unable to take on rescue animals.

“I’d love to rescue strays, but I don’t have the facility space or the time,” Rueb said. “I do my own breeding. We are expecting 18 alpacas to be born this year, and so far, we have had seven.”

Rueb is hoping to have five baby camels born on his property next year.

In addition to breeding and selling, Rueb shears his alpacas yearly and sells their wool online.

Rueb currently employs two local teenage girls to help him take care of the animals. His farm has proved popular with children, as kids from the neighborhood regularly come to visit the animals and play with Rueb’s cats and kittens.

“I don’t turn any of them away as long as long as they behave well and mind me,” said Rueb. “Like the Bible says, the disciples would try to shoo the kids away but Jesus said ‘Do not forbid the little ones to come unto Me for such is the kingdom of heaven.’ I can help some of these kids find a purpose in life.”

Rueb is happy to nurture the love of animals in his young visitors, some of whom want to be vets or zookeepers when they grow up. One of Rueb’s earliest visitors is doing just that by going to college to earn a doctorate in zoology.

As on most farms, animals occasionally die from illnesses, which Rueb uses to teach the kids about life and God.

“We can’t predict that we’ll be here tomorrow, but we have to make plans for living the best life we can while we’re here,” he said. “That’s why I’m here, to help these kids find a savior in Jesus Christ.”

Though not able to own every type of animal he wants, like lemurs - “they require special permits” - Rueb is happy with his current lot.

“It works out. God provides,” he said.

___

Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, https://www.yankton.net/

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