Welcome we are C2 Alpacas, commonly referred to as C Squared Alpacas.
This is about how we found a magical place among Alpacas and began our adventure into raising these wonderful creatures.
Chris and his wife Christiann, are both natives of Colorado their Families have been around since the early 1900’s. The name C2 Alpacas or C Squared came into being because their friend would refer to them as “oh here comes C2”.
Chris and Christiann loved camping in the mountains and being in nature that they started to dream about someday owning a place in the country. They even thought they might raise some animals and eventually retire.
While they were living and working in Colorado Springs as Engineers in the Manufacturing Industry they decided to take a drive out to the Black Forest area.
It was there they found what they were looking for. The neighborhood was nestled back behind an 80 year old cattle ranch that runs 100+ cows. So in 2000 they brought a 5 acre parcel with a domestic well permit which would allow them to have animals on the property.
They spent the summer of 2000 clearing trees and building the roads into the property. Excavation started Labor Day Week End 2000 and the house was completed in May of 2001. In addition to the house they built a 30X40 metal building.
Now What Animals Should We Get?
With the house done and the Metal Building completed they discussed what sort of animals would be best. They were still working full time, they thought about horses but horses take a great deal of time and care and they were not sure they wanted to take that on just yet.
Then one day they saw a sign while driving home. It was a sign for Alpacas. Then they started to notice a lot of these signs in and around their neighborhood.
While at the State Fair in Pueblo where they are introduced to these amazing animals, the Alpaca…
I don’t know if you have ever seen an Alpaca up close but they are just beautiful animals. They have the most amazing doe eyes with long eye lashes and their long necks. They are incredibly soft to touch and they don’t really have much of an order to them. They spent the next several hours talking with the Alpacas owners and were amazed at what they learned about the Alpaca.
Once home from the Fair they started their research into the world of alpacas.
Originating in South America these animals are bred for their Fiber much like sheep for wool. There are two breeds of Alpaca “Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca”. Alpacas resemble llamas but are much smaller.
- Alpacas are a herd animal and enjoy playing.
- Alpacas do not have hooves and are very gentle on the land.
- Alpacas have bottom teeth and a soft palette 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 diseases.
- Alpacas only consume 2% -3% of their body weight.
- Alpacas weight about 120 to 150 lbs so conservatively 8 alpacas per acre. This makes alpacas the ideal for small acreage fiber farms.
Alpaca’s 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 livestock compost 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 amendment with a very earthy smell. This is less aromatic than the bags of cow manure that is sold at the home and garden centers.
After checking with their county zoning and planning department to verify what would be allowed on the parcel of land. The El Paso county zoning didn’t have a specification. They then contacted the Colorado Springs University (CSU) extension office on animal recommendations for the land it was suggested 1000 lb. unites per acre.
In 2003 they purchased their first two Female Alpacas along with 1 guard llama and a Maremma livestock guard dog. So starts the Journey to Alpaca ranching….
In 2005, they purchased the adjoining property to the west with a separate well and separate electricity which now gave them 13 acres to raise Alpacas.
It’s all about the Fiber or is it?
They first focused on breeding and only breed for fleece fineness as seed stock producer. They took only the best of their breeding girls to the best males to get the best fleece quality and highest yield.
As they learned more about the world of Fibers Christiann started hand felting scarves and hats from the fleece. She loves 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.
As they got to know these beautiful creature they became attached. Each one has its own behavior and they noticed that being around these Alpacas was like therapy after a long day at work. These animals are so intuitive. Many time the alpaca will lay down next to you and let you pet them. 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.
They are often asked if they name their alpaca. The answer is yes every animal has a name and mostly will respond when called.
Is the Alpaca a Commercial Industry?
At this time raising Alpacas is more of a cottage industry at best. Alpaca ranches or farms are usually small herds on small acreages like our ranch. Small ranches 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 are a part of this Co-op and the fleeces are used to make the products we sell.
Educating the public…
The Schade’s have used the alpacas to provide a unique learning experience for intercity schools.
Most of the children came from low income disadvantaged situations. One child really stood out in the group. He had some mental disabilities. When it was his turn in line to pet Pepper (our PR alpaca).
Pepper seemed 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 their turns petting the alpacas and 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 okay to say goodbye. Of course we let the child come say goodbye to Pepper.
It really pulls at your heart strings to see this child a mental disability connect to our Pepper. The child walked over very quietly whispering Peppers name and reached out to pet him on the neck. Pepper once again rubbed his cheek against the child. The child embraced 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.
We knew from that time forward we could share the alpaca magic with our community.
Since then the Schade’s have taken their 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 mentally disabled. It is so awesome to provide so much happiness 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.
We love leaving these institutions with smiles and happiness due to our precious gift from God.
Raising alpacas is a magical, rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle. Neither one of us would change it for the world.
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