People come to the world of alpacas in a myriad
of different ways. Some people discover alpacas and then begin looking
for the perfect acreage to create their farm. William and Leslie Stoddard
purchased their ranch thirty years ago, long before the alpacas ever
||William and I met in the 1970’s
and soon developed the common dream of building a territorial-style
adobe home. We were students at the University of New Mexico at
the time, splitting our daylight hours between classes, mixing mud
to lay adobe bricks, and taking care of a few chickens, pigs, sheep,
two dogs, and a cat.
Life was not always easy back then but we had the benefit of youthful enthusiasm to carry us through. During those years we raised two children, William ran a successful general contracting business, and I taught elementary school after my own two children were old enough to attend school. This home has gone through a multitude of remodels and additions, growing and changing to meet our needs.Our years here have been full of the typical joys and sorrows including the transition of my life partner, William in June of 2007. I have appreciated the structure and purpose that the animals have provided during the hard times. The beauty of owning alpacas is that even as a single woman, I am able to manage my herd efficiently.
|One thing that living does to you is bring
clarity and shape to the things that truly bring you happiness.
For me, the ingredients are a creative outlet, something I feel
passionate about, physical activity, and working with animals. In
December of 2004, an article appeared in the local paper with a
picture of alpacas and the caption read, “Alpaca breeders
say business is thriving and it couldn’t be more fun.”
I have saved that article as a testimony to where my love affair
with alpacas began.
That newspaper article stayed on my desk for several months. However, a series of uncanny coincidences, such as the late night ads on the television exalting the joys of the alpaca lifestyle, continued to bring this idea back to my attention more than once. My evenings began to be consumed by Internet surfing. The more I read, the more I was hooked on the possibility that I could actually do this, too, right in my own backyard. Women are frequently the first ones to get the “alpaca bug” and end up dragging their ‘non-believer”
husbands along, particularly when they find out how much one of these
critters cost! Such was the case with me. I finally convinced William
to take a “field trip” to a local alpaca ranch. I had
never seen an alpaca before and figured it was definitely time to find
out what they were all about. Was this really for me?
The minute I caught sight of
them, and I was surrounded by a herd of curious little fluff balls
that wanted to give me the special alpaca face-to-face greeting,
I was gone. Soon after that I was visiting every farm in my area
and seeking out farms in other states when I traveled. I was veracious
in my approach to reading and learning about everything alpaca and
had to force myself to go to bed at night to be ready for work the
next day. My energy for this was boundless.
One thing you will find if you decide to pursue this journey is the majority of the people you meet in this business are extremely, supportive, friendly, and passionate about sharing information, and opening their ranches. They recognize that the success of the industry as a whole lies in the collective endeavors of like-minded people. I am indebted to several invaluable mentors who have put up with my endless questions and have helped me along my path. The learning curve is daunting, particularly if you have no livestock experience. Forging a relationship with an experienced breeder is absolutely essential. You will also come to find that everyone who owns these animals has a different opinion regarding just about every aspect of the care and maintenance of alpacas. Take it all in, but ultimately you will have to determine what resonate for you and what works. One can spend a small fortune on educational materials. However, I would highly recommend the book, The Alpaca Shepherd by Michael Safley, as a primer. It provides a wealthy of information, a good resource index, and a glossary to help you decipher the industry jargon .
By June, I found myself attending the Alpaca
Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
These conferences have excellent educational programs and provide
the opportunity to witness every facet of the industry in one location.
Being able to see that many quality animals and to hear the commentary
of experienced judges provided me with valuable tools to begin selecting
my own stock.
Several weeks were spent obtaining business licenses, checking on zoning ordinances, tax numbers and all the other requirements necessary to set up shop. I contracted with an experienced professional to assist me in developing a master plan for my acreage. When you are first starting out, there is nothing that can duplicate what years of experience does in terms of knowing how to lay out a functional facility. I was more than willing to pay for that expertise. Of course, I made changes of my own once the plan was actually implemented, but it gave me a sound basis to begin. I still have not actualized my dream barn. Right now my alpacas are perfectly content with their permanent shade shelters in each individual pasture. I will have to sell a few more alpacas before my barn is a reality!
On a Saturday in July 2005, I took the plunge and purchased two pregnant females and a "tester" male. By the following Wednesday we had a beautiful Light Fawn male cria. In August, I had another Bay Black male cria (who later went on to place in the highly competitive, Level 5, Great Western Alpaca Show in
). I joked at that time about being on the "accelerated herd growth" program. The time spent on building fences, gates, shelters, installing water and power, automatic waterers, hay feeders, and external electric fencing has all come to fruitions. Those early days are becoming distant memories. The blue ribbons are becoming more abundant. The herd and expertise continues to grow, as each birthing season brings the joy of new crias.
View our newest babies on the Cria Corner page.
Welcome Dooley's Dynamo! 10/2/09
SOLD! Congratulations! Lisa & Sophie Ellis