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Local News

Have You Herd of National Alpaca Farm Days?

Local ranches will throw open their gates this weekend so adorable, gentle creatures can provide visitors a new fleece on life

Nestled in the foothills above Carpinteria is a ranch filled with what might be some of the most gawky — and most fun — livestock you’ll find. The Canzelle Alpaca Ranch will be a host of National Alpaca Farm Days this weekend, and the public is invited to tour and hang out with the ranch’s most adorable inhabitants.

(Click here for a Noozhawk slide show.)

Carol-Anne Lonson, owner of Canzelle, is a native of South Africa, and she greets visitors to the gracious Carpinteria ranch accompanied by her dogs — a retriever and an Anatolian shepherd named Bear, who keeps an eye on the alpacas.

Carol-Anne Lonson, greeting one of her alpacas, owns the Canzelle Alpaca Ranch, nestled in the foothills above Carpinteria.
Carol-Anne Lonson, greeting one of her alpacas, owns the Canzelle Alpaca Ranch, nestled in the foothills above Carpinteria. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

All of Lonson’s alpacas have South African names, like Ticky, who is named after the smallest old South African currency, amounting to two pennies. Lonson said Ticky lived the first five months of her life in the family’s home because she weighed just seven pounds at birth, drastically underweight for an alpaca. Lonson bottle-fed her and Ticky lived as a house pet until she was big enough to join her other friends out in the pen.

Lonson first began raising alpacas when the family lived in Hope Ranch and wanted to do something with their two-acre property. She discovered that alpacas are pretty manageable, as pets and as commercial livestock.

“You basically feed them and once you’ve trained them ... they’re very easy to keep,” she said.

Alpacas have been a lucrative business for her, and she’s been able to meet friends across the country when she shows the animals. They’re sheared once a year for their precious fiber, which is used for fine clothing, rugs and other woven goods.

Lonson welcomes the public to come experience the ranch with the kid-friendly event and meet the alpacas from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The event is open to the public at the ranch, 4036 Foothill Road, Carpinteria. Click here for more information.

Alpaca ranches in the Santa Ynez Valley will also be participating in National Alpaca Farm Days, which is sponsored by the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association.

Alpacas at West Ranch, located next to Firestone Vineyards, is home to more than 140 alpacas — one of the largest alpaca herds on the Central Coast — as well as seven llamas.

“We invite all visitors to come and see for themselves one of the gentlest animals around by visiting one of our ranches and seeing these beautiful creatures,” said Hayley Firestone Jessup of Alpacas at West Ranch.

Ranch of the Oaks has a fiber herd and is known for its mini-mill where alpaca, llama and sheep fiber is processed into yarn, felting and other products. Owners Mette and Tom Goehring will have the mill open all weekend.

“Alpaca fiber is one of the softest in the world and we are so lucky to be able to work with this beautiful product right here on the Central Coast,” Mette Goehring said.

Alpacas at West Ranch and Ranch of the Oaks will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Both ranches have alpaca products for sale, including raw fiber, yarn and other finished products.

Click here for more information on the Santa Ynez Valley tours, or call Jessup at 805.698.4540.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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