Alpacas

Alpacas are members of the camel family, which includes llamas, vicunas, and guanacos, all from South America, as well as Dromedary (one hump) and Bactrian (two hump) camels, native to the Mid-East and Asia.

Alpacas probably sprang from wild vicunas which were domesticated by the Incas in Peru as long as 6,000 years ago. Adapted to life high in the frigid Andes mountains, alpaca fiber was prized for its softness and warmth, and was reserved for use by Incan royalty.

Natalina
Patagonia's Natalina
Kastania
Kastania
Roberta
Roberta
Bonita
Bonita
Celeste
Celeste
There are two types of alpacas today, the suri ("surrey") and huacaya ("wha-KI-ah"). The suri accounts for only 10% of all alpacas. Their fur, or "fiber," tends to form long curly or twisted locks, and is known for its smoothness and luster. Suri fiber is used to make the most expensive and luxurious Italian designer men's suits. Huacaya fiber is "crimped" or kinky, and is good for warm clothing worn next to the skin, such as sweaters and socks. All of our alpacas are huacayas.

Natalina (b. 2006) was purchased in 2010 from 'Alpacas de la Patagonia,' a ranch on Camano Island, near Seattle. Of all our alpacas, she has the best huacaya-type fiber: dense and springy. Winner of many show ribbons, she originaly sold for $18,000 at the 2008 'Parade of Champions' auction near Hillsboro. However, she was unable to get pregnant, and was returned to Patagonia in exchange for another female. We were lucky enough to get Natty for only $300!

Kastania ("chestnut") and Roberta were older rescues (both b. 1994) we got for free in 2006, after their owner, Mr. Harvel, died. They were probably some of the first alpacas born in the U.S. after importation from South America started in the mid-1980's. Their fiber looks somewhat intermediate between huacaya and suri, as was common with early imports.

Bonita and Celeste (b. 1997 and 2000) were a gift from Susan Dibble of Corvallis. Both non-breeders due to age and dystocia (difficulty birthing), they were the last of Susan's herd to be dispersed when she left the alpaca breeder business.

Sadly, four other alpacas and a halfbreed llama/alpaca from Mr. Harvel's herd are no longer with us. See their stories under the "Cougars" and "In Memoriam" links.


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