Traveling Eternity Road
Everything went so smoothly and things had fallen into place so perfectly in the spring of 1999. We had our place and felt that all we had to do was get back into our routine, let the business and our investments grow and in two or three years tops, we’d be off to Tennessee. Now two or three years doesn’t sound like much; but when you’re waiting it seems like forever. And that’s if things are going well. When things start to go wrong, it can seem like an eternity.
Getting A Little Rough Around The Edges
As time wore on and we went about our daily routine it got increasingly harder to wait. All of our alpacas were still boarded in Tennessee and we were getting to see them only once or twice a year. New crias were born and we were lucky to get a picture. Our frustration began to build.
For the first few years, while we were growing our herd, our only frustration was not getting to see our Alpacas and the new crias regularly. But midway through the year 2000, we decided that it was time to get on the other side of the business and not be just a buyer but a seller. Long distance marketing was virtually impossible and we were totally out of the loop and totally dependent on the ranch owner in Tennessee. This was definitely not a good situation; and doing business long distance was just not working. This kicked up the frustration level another notch.
Then in the fall of 2000 the investment markets got hit. All of those wonderful little dotcom companies imploded and took the rest of the investment markets with them in the downdraft. Bummer! This was putting a big wrinkle in our plans to get to Tennessee. And as any of you that are investors know, 2001 didn’t bring any relief from the stock market doldrums. There wasn’t much we could do about the market and our “dead” stock. It would have to revive itself in it’s own good time; but surely we could take more control over our livestock!
Jump Starting The Business
In March of 2001 we made the decision to move part of our herd down to Texas. After performing an analysis on our females (who was pregnant, how far along were they, when were they due, etc.) we arranged to have half of our herd transported and boarded at an Alpaca ranch in Navasota. This turned out to be a great move. Navasota was only about two hours away from our home in the Clear Lake area (southeast of Houston) and we now had greater control over at least part of our business. It also allowed us to participate in some of the local events like Dickens on the Strand and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. And instead of waiting months, we got to see our Texas born crias on the weekends, usually when they were only days old.
We Go Public On The Web
Having the alpacas close was fabulous; but we were still dependent on the marketing performed by the boarding ranch. At that point we knew we needed some way to advertise and market ourselves. That was the push I needed to get going and learn how to build a website. I don’t claim to be a wizard at web slinging; but we’re pretty proud of our website. No, it doesn’t have dancing alpacas or streaming video; but it gets the job done. It lets people know who we are, where they can find us and what we’ve got for sale. Our website went public on August 14 of 2001. Since then we have received lots of phone and email inquiries and have sold several alpacas!
A Little Success - A Lot Of Ambition
Ah yes, the sweet smell of success. And a little success bred lots of ambition. We felt more in control and had a few sales under our belt; and that was a nice feeling. In January of 2002 we took the plunge and moved the rest of our herd to Navasota. With our entire herd in Texas, I guess we should have seen the trend; but we still planned and dreamed of moving to Tennessee. But try as we might, things just weren’t going our way. The move to Tennessee would just have to wait a while longer.
Friends & Family
One very nice side benefit of having our herd nearby was meeting lots of different people in the business. We met another Alpaca ranching couple that are friends of the folks where we boarded the first half of our herd. So when we brought the remainder of our Alpacas down to Texas, we boarded them a their place. Now we had our Alpacas split between two ranches. Thankfully they were only about 10 minutes apart, so it was easy to visit both ranches and see all of our Alpacas in a single trip to Navasota.
Having relatively quick and easy access to our herd, we became more involved in the business and began to do some shows and we met more and more Alpaca ranchers. Public interest in the Alpaca business grew and there are now over a dozen ranches within 30 to 45 minutes of each other in the Navasota, Hempstead, Magnolia area of Texas. Some say that this area is now the Alpaca capital of Texas.
At shows and in business there is definitely competition between the ranches; but there is also a camaraderie and friendship that I have not experienced in a very long time. In a sense, these folks are our extended family. We have formed an informal alliance called The Alpaca Ranches Of South Central Texas. Everyone works together at shearing day and we “hang” together at shows and do events together. We’ve also been putting on seminars twice a year for people interested in getting into the business. Not everyone participates in every event; but that’s ok. We’re all good friends and have fun in whatever we do.
All of this got us to thinking. Tennessee is nice, but our friends and our extended family are down here. Things weren’t working out for us to move to Tennessee, so maybe we should try to get a ranch down here. That way we wouldn’t be boarders but full time participants in Alpaca ranching. If we couldn’t get to Tennessee just yet, maybe we could do it down here in Texas. Click here to read the continuation of "Our Story"