The Alpaca Hacienda
Life sometimes turns on a dime, doesn't it?
Like so many of the "alpaca folks" I meet, I've gone from asking the infamous question, "What's an alpaca?" to wondering how I ever lived without them. And what for me, began as a glimpse at an advertisement about alpacas in a Costco magazine, has turned into a full-blown passion for these animals, forever changing our lives.
And so our story began. In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined my husband and I raising alpacas as a business, but here we are. I'll never forget the first time I Googled "Alpaca." The images I found of these beautiful animals, their colorful history and stories by people who owned them had me captivated from the beginning. As I scoured the Internet for as much information I could find, I quickly learned that if I were ever given the privilege to raise these magical animals of my own, I had better do my homework. Thus began my journey of visiting farms, reading books and attending seminars. I went to auctions, conferences on health issues, shearings and local farm days. But little did I know that at the first show I visited I would officially be taking the "Alpaca Plunge."
It was here, strolling around the alpaca stalls, that I first laid eyes on Crescent Moon's Crown Royal. Crown Royal was absolutely the most beautiful alpaca I had ever seen; he literally took my breath away. At the time I didn't know if this alpaca was male or female, ribbon winner or had "gotten the gate", and none of that mattered. I quickly found my husband, Mike, and told him he had to see this amazing animal for himself. I don't know if Mike was as impressed with Crown as I was, or if he just loves me so much he wanted to surprise me, but after leaving for a few minutes he returned, smiling like a Cheshire cat and announcing, "Beth, you just got yourself an alpaca!" After taking a few deep breaths and composing myself, it didn't take long to realize I was now the proud owner of a champion alpaca, with no place to keep him.
Thus began the next leg of our journey--to find enough acreage to raise alpacas while keeping our daughter in her same high school and staying close to family and friends. Not an easy task in the sprawling suburb of Temecula. But as fate would have it, we happened upon a home for sale, situated on three hilltop acres, right in the middle of town. Mike and I instantly knew that this would be the perfect place to begin The Alpaca Hacienda.
Not your typical alpaca farm setting, our close-knit herd is well adapted to city life. Our alpacas enjoy great views of the city lights, and are entertained by watching the walkers, joggers and occasional skateboarders that pass by on the avenue below. Our animals have gotten quite popular with the local sidewalk travelers, often stopping to let their children get a glimpse of the alpacas or asking the girls, "How is breakfast this morning?"
The Alpaca Hacienda continues to expand and change with every passing project, and now offers sales, agisting, breeding, group tours and an on-site store. My engineer husband has been a great sport, becoming the Hacienda's master fence builder, automatic waterer installer, sprinkler guy and toenail trimmer. We've learned a few things along the way, too, one of the most time-consuming lessons being that orchard grass doesn't like our Southern California summers. After planting, fertilizing and irrigating two acres of pasture grass in the spring, we lost it all in the first summer heat wave. Such is life. And we continue to learn with each passing year.
Our alpaca story in Temecula would not be complete without our special thanks to the alpaca breeders, large and small, who have inspired, encouraged and informed us along the way. John Malkus of Alpaca de la Pacifica, you might not remember us, but we will be forever grateful for the time you spent with us very early on, graciously opening your home, feeding us lunch, and answering all of our questions. We have fond memories of Tina; she was a wonderful person whose love for her alpacas was evident in all she did. And our special thanks to our friends at Lazy K Ranch, Triple J Ranch and Crescent Moon Ranch, for always being there at the end of the phone line or email when questions (or panic!) came up. We only hope to help others along their journey as unselfishly as you have. May your days be filled with humming and healthy cria!
The Alpaca Hacienda is owned by Beth Osborne and Mike Arndt, both natives to Southern California. Beth earned her Bachelor's Degree from Cal State Fullerton and later earned her teaching credential to go on and teach elementary school children in both private and public schools. Mike is a mechanical engineer who owns a plastic injection molding business in Murietta, California. They started the Alpaca Hacienda in 2004 as a part time endeavor that has now grown into a full-time business encompassing alpaca breeding, alpaca sales, tours, agisting, showing and sales of alpaca products.
(The Alpaca Hacienda History)
Mike, Our Ranch Hand Extraordinare
Pastures Were Beautiful While They Lasted!
Crescent Moon's Crown Royal, Our First Alpaca