Welcome to C2 or C Squared Alpacas. This truly is a magicial place.
We are C2 Alpacas, or commonly referred to as C Squared Alpacas. We came up with that name, since Christiann is an an engineer and her co-workers always referred to us as “ oh it’s C2”.
This is our story as to how in the world we ever began our adventure into raising these wonderful creatures. If you find yourself getting bored or nodding off, just close your eyes and imagine crias (new babies) being let out into pasture for the first time or when the new mommy finds her newly born cria and is encouraging it to get up and nurse. Raising alpacas is a magical, rewarding and fulfilling llifestyle. Neither one of us would change it for the world.
We are both natives of Colorado. In fact our familieshave been here in Colorado since the early 1900’s. As a result we have a large number of relatives living up and down the front range. We have always loved camping in the mountains and our dream was to own 5 acers in the country were we could have animals and eventuallly retire. We both were working in Colorado Springs and decided to take a drive out to the Black Forest area. In 2000, we found the 5 acre parcel with a domestic well permit which would allow us to have animals on the property. The neighborhood is nestled back behind a working cattle ranch. I love Colorado’s rich agricultural history and what better way to enjoy the country life other than to move into an area next to an 80 year old working ranch that runs 100+ cows.
Our home was completed in 2001. We spent the summer of 2000 clearing trees and building the roads into the property. We started the excavation for the basement on Labor Day Week End. Our house in town sold very quickly and we found ourselves HOMELESS! We decided to build a 30’X40’ metal building were we moved all of our belongings. Finally we were able to move into our new home in May of 2001.
We thought about getting horses but they require a great deal of care and we both were working full time. We had discussed how many signs we would see driving through the forest for Alpacas. In fact, there used to be a sign for Carrot and Diamond Alpacas on Hardy Rd just before we reached our home. We went to Pueblo to go to the State Fair. This was our introduction to the Alpaca. We were so amazed and intriqued at their beautiful doe eyes, long eyelashes and neck. Their fiber was so incredibley soft and the animals had no real odor to them. We stood and talked to the lady for about 2 hours. So our journey began.
We started researching on the alpacas. These animals are not related to goats or sheep. Alpacas do not have hooves and are very gentle on the land. They have bottom teeth and a soft palet which allows them to nibble the grass down but not pull it out by the root. Alpacas do not over eat so they can be left with free choice hay all day and tend to be very hardy against deseases. They only consume 2% -3% of their body weight. We checked with our county zoning and planning to verify that we would be allowed Alpacas and to find out what the maxium number would be allowed. El Paso county zoning does not specify number of animals. We wanted to make sure we were being good land stewards so we talked to the CSU extention office on animal recommendation on the land. CSU recommends 1000lb unts per acre. Alpacas weight about 120 to 150lbs so conseratively 8 alpacas per acre. This makes alpacas the ideal for small acrage fiber farms.
Their digestive system is superior in breaking down their food. The Alpaca beans are not “Hot” and will not burn the grass like other forms of livestockcompost such as horse or cow. Cow and Horse manure have a high ammonia content and will take up to 2 years to break down. Alpaca beans will break down in as little as 6 weeks using compost barrels. Alpaca compost breaks down into a very dark rich soil ammendment with a very earthy smell. This is less aromatic than the bags of cow maunure that is sold at the home and garden centers.
After researching the animals we started our alpaca business in 2003. We purchased our first 2 female alpacas, 1 guard llama and a maremma livestock gardian dog. After having the animals and aquiring the fiber from the sheering, Christiann started hand felting scarves of hats from the fleece. Nothing is better than working with this ultra soft fiber that feels like cashmere. It did not take long for her to take up spinning her finest fleeces into a luxurious yarns.
In 2005, we were able to purchase the adjoining property to the west with a separate well and separate electricity on the property. This provided us with a total of 13 acres. The two properties are divided by the large power line that supply electricity. I cannot think of a better way to use this type of land than to allow Alpacas to graze the grass down during the spring and summer. They are truly a magnificant site to see as you drive around the corner.
The focus of our breeding program was to only breed for fleece fineness first as seed stock producer. We only take the best of our breeding girls to the best males to get the best fleece quality and highest yield. As time has gone on, the majority of our females are no longer breeding since the younger generations fleece quality is better than the animals 2 or 3 generations back.
Sometimes we are asked if Alpacas will be a viable Commerial industry in the US. We are not sure what the future holds but right now it is a cottage industry at best. Alpaca ranches or farms are usually small herds on small acrages like our farm. Small farms cannot produce enough fleece of a certain grade or quality to produce a manufactured product from their specific animals. This is why the National Co-op and a few regional Co-ops have formed to provide a location to collect fleeces from all over the US. The fleeces are then sorted by certified sorters and products are made on a larger scale.
We have been so blessed to be able to take this journey and learn about these wonderful creatures. The alpacas quiet hum, sweet disposition and curious nature has made them the perfect animal for daily theraphy. Many times we would come home stress from the daily grind of our jobs. These animals are so intuitive. We have spent many hours decompressing in front of the barn listening to the soft hum and to having the alpacas come over to softly sniff your face. Many time the alpaca will lay down next to you and let you pet them. We are often asked if we name every single alpaca. The answer is yes every animal has a name. Often, we will go out and call our the name of a certain alpaca. We will get one of two responses. One the ears will perk up and the alpaca will run down to greet you or the ears will go down and the alpaca with turn its head in the opposite direction. If I don’t see you then you can’t see me. The disposition of an alpaca is much like a cat. It is always on their terms and how the animal feels on any given day.
We have used the alpacas to provide a unique learning experience for intercity schools. Many years ago we connected with a intercity teacher from east middle school, district 11. Most of the children came from low income disadvantaged situations. We volunteered to take a couple of our best PR (public relation) alpacas to the school. Chris met with the teachers and the lead students to go over rules. Chris explained if you start yelling, screaming and running you will scare the alpacas. You must always approach an alpaca very slowly in a calm manner. Never stand behind the alpaca incase they kick you because the alpaca can not see what is behind them. The children selected to be the team leaders were very serious. Chris showed the team leaders how to hold the leads and how to allow each student to approach the animal. Each class came out in groups and lined up to pet the alpaca. The student leaders did an awsome job explaining to their peers the importants of not screaming, running up to the alpaca or approaching with quick movement. Chris coached the team leaders on handing and explaination of the animals. It was such a wonderful experience for the children and for us. One child really stood out in the group. He had some mental disablities. When it was his turn in line he started to pet Pepper ( our PR alpaca). Pepper seamed to sense the child needed more than just a pet. Pepper slowly sniffed and rubbed his face on the child. The little boy was so elated he threw his arms around Peppers neck and kept chanting how much he loved Pepper. The child did not want to let go but understood all the children need to have a turn to pet Pepper. The child waited until all the classes had taken turns petting the alpacas. He asked the teacher if he could say goodbye to Pepper. She told him he would have to ask politely and if Chris agreed it would be ok to say goodbye. Of course we let the child come say goodbye to Pepper. It was almost heartbreaking to see this child with some mental disablity connect to our Pepper. The child walked over very quitly whipsering Peppers name and reached out to pet him on the neck. Pepper once again rubbed his cheek against the child. The child embarced Pepper around the neck and buried is face in his fleece. The child continues to chant how much he loved Pepper and it was the best day in his life. It was touching when the children wrote little notes about how much they appreciated us bringing the alpacas into their school. Most of the children accknowledged that they would most likely not have that opportunity. We knew from that time forward we could share the alpaca magic with our community.
We have taken our alpacas on an annual trip to an adult daycare center on an annual basis since 2009. The day care people consist of the elderly to the mentaly disabled. It is so awsome to provide so much happieness to these people. The mentally disabled seem to connect to the humming and curious nature of the alpacas as they stretch out the long necks to sniff and gently nuzzle a person in the most magical way. Many of the elderly are very coherent but need assistant during the day when the family member is at work. Sometime the elderly were raised on a farm and interaction with the animals provides beautiful memories. Some elderly or so intrigued with the animals curious nature and beautiful disposition that it brings great pleasure to interact with the Alpacas. We love leaving these institutions with smiles and happiness due to our precious gift from God.