Our story is a bit lengthy, so if you are pressed for time, you may want to jump ahead to other areas of our web site. But if you are really interested, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of tea, sit back and read on. You'll learn how we became interested in Alpacas, how we got started, where we are today and where we're going in the future.
When we began our Alpaca
adventure, we lived in the Clear Lake area southeast of Houston, Texas. We
both worked in Corporate America and had good jobs. I was doing computer
software testing for a NASA contractor and Candace did project design and
commercial facilities management for a major corporation in downtown Houston. Our employers loved us and treated us well and we lived
a comfortable middle class suburban lifestyle.
What To Do?
Our life was comfortable but there was something missing. For quite a few years I had searched inside myself for something that I would really like to do. In particular I was looking for something that I could do as a semi-retirement job. Not that the job I had was bad, in fact it was pretty good. As I mentioned above, my employer loved me, and treated me well. But I just felt that Iíd really rather be doing something else. I just didnít know what. Income tax was always interesting to me (ok, so I'm a bit different), so I tried doing taxes for several years moonlighting with a major tax preparation company. I learned a lot and maybe I will do tax work some day part-time. But that just wasn't "it". As I told quite a few friends, if my fairy godmother had flown up and hit me with her magic wand and said, "Hey, you can be anything and do anything you want! What would you like to do?", I would have just looked at her and said, "I donít know!!!". If any of you have ever experienced this, you know it is extremely frustrating.
The Light Bulb Comes On - Ideas Begin To Flow
Then in March of 1997, we
attended a seminar presented by Sandra Shelton called "Strength Bankô".
In a nutshell, her seminar stressed that if you do what you truly enjoy, then you will be a
resounding success; because what you are doing will not be seen as work, but as
fun. And when you are having fun, you will do it extremely well.
Sandra said, "to determine what you really love, think back on your
childhood and determine what you loved to do then". So, I thought about
this. Well, I liked the outdoors, I liked to fish and catch snakes and shoot
guns. Yep, lots of money in that I thought. Then it hit me like a
ton of bricks. We could have a place in the country with a place to fish, places to hike and just get outdoors and enjoy nature; a place with cabins
where people could come to just get away and renew. They could
come and enjoy the things that I enjoy. Now there was something that had
the potential for fun and profit! I told Candace about this and she thought that it was
a great idea. She then expanded and suggested that we could have an organic
veggie and herb garden and we could have Llamas so people could backpack and
the Llamas could carry stuff from the garden to the house, and on and on . . . The more we talked about
this, the more the ideas flowed.
We had always enjoyed seeing the Llamas at the Houston Livestock Show but now we were thinking about owning some. The first step was to go check them out up close and personal. We found some Llama breeders only about thirty minutes away in Baytown and arranged a visit. We were impressed, their Llamas were magnificent animals - very regal.
At this point we could have purchased several Llamas and that would have ended or, at least, changed our story. But this was not to be the end. We didn't buy any Llamas that day but we did make two new friends and left with a packet of information and a renewed interest and appreciation of Llamas.
And Then We Met The Alpacas
A friend from California was living temporarily in Houston that summer. We had told her about our ideas and on one of her trips home she brought us an article from the newspaper, thinking that the article was about Llamas. But as it turned out it was about Alpacas. Whatís an Alpaca we asked? Well, we read the article and learned. An Alpaca is related to the Llama. In fact it looks like a miniature Llama. But instead of being a pack animal, like the Llama, it is raised for itís luxury fiber. You shear them annually like sheep and their fiber is extremely soft. I cannot wear wool, because it makes me itch. But I now have an Alpaca sweater that I could wear without a shirt - the fiber is that silky smooth. The newspaper article made these animals sound so interesting that we started investigating them. I looked up all sorts of stuff on the Internet. And one of the things I found was an Alpaca ranch one hour west of Houston. We arranged a visit just before Thanksgiving of 1997. We visited several other times and even helped with shearing their Alpacas in the spring of 1998. By then we were hooked. We knew that we wanted to raise Alpacas at our place Ė our ranch!
The Search Is On!
Our ranch? Hmmm, now that meant that we needed a piece of property with some acreage. Raising Alpacas doesn't require a huge amount of land. You can place five to eight comfortably on one acre. But this was definitely not something that you could do or want to do on a quarter acre in the suburbs.
Over the winter, many more brainstorming sessions led us to the conclusion that we should search for property in the mountains of the southeast. Through research and discussion, we narrowed our search area down to Tennessee and North Carolina. In the spring of 1998 we used our vacation and began our search, looking for both Alpacas and property, where we could eventually build our dream. We looked at raw land, working farms and places in between. We talked to people about their business Ė bed & breakfast, cabin rentals, Llama trekking and Alpaca ranching. On this trip we didn't find our "ideal place" but we did start our Alpaca herd. The first place we stayed in Tennessee was a small farm where they raised Alpacas and had a single log cabin they rented as a B&B. We stayed there two nights and on the final night, we bought two female Suri Alpacas!
Our Business Is Born
And with that purchase, our business was born. Since our ultimate goal and dream was to relocate to the mountains, we named the business appropriately - Mountain Dream Alpacas. Later that fall we purchased two female Huacaya Alpacas and one of our Suri Alpacas had her cria (Alpaca talk for baby). And our herd continues to grow.
Just The Beginning
For several years we boarded our herd at that Tennessee farm but now have moved them all to Texas. For several more years we boarded them at two ranches in Navasota, northwest of Houston. This was only about two hours away from our home and allowed us to see them more than once or twice a year, participate in events and also see some of the crias when they were still just a few days old. Check them out on our Alpaca Sales List page and check out the crias on the New Arrivals page.
Now maybe you're wondering about our property search - did we ever find a place? To get straight to the point, "Yes"! Ah, but the devil is in the details. Click here to read the continuation of "Our Story".