Talk About It Tuesday – Good Karma Ranch Alpacas

Talk About It Tuesday – Good Karma Ranch Alpacas

In Episode 28 I am going to visit Good Karma Ranch in Iron Station. I am so excited to see the alpacas, learn about them and hear the story of the Ranch. 

Hi, Donna Galinsky at Your Lake Norman Realtor with Allen Tate Real Estate. Thank you for joining me for Episode 28 of Talk About It Tuesday. 

Today, I’m really excited to be heading over to Good Karma Alpaca Ranch. I have been obsessed since I found them on Instagram a couple of months ago. I am so excited to go see these adorable alpacas. 

So come on, let’s go visit them and I’m sure you’ll be obsessed with them too.

[Shelly] So, welcome to the farm. We’re going to go into the pasture and we’re all going to tour inside the pasture. So, we’re going to go in and we’ll talk about the animals as we go, all right? So come on in. 

They were bred to make a very high quality fiber animal. So, their fiber for many, many thousands of years was considered the fiber of the Gods. Only royalty or extremely wealthy people would wear garments made out of their fiber. Then it became the primary income source for people in Peru for many, many years. About 900 years ago, the Spanish started exploring and they came upon South America and tried to conquer. So, when they got there, they actually ended up killing about 98% of the population of alpacas in South America either through disease that they brought that wasn’t common or when you’re conquering, which is kind of what you do, you ruin whatever the livelihood source is, right, for those people. So, the alpacas just survived by fleeing to the tops of the mountains about 11,000 feet and that’s where they started to repopulate and that’s where they kind of live mostly today, the top of the mountainsides of Peru. 

In the world today, we have 3.5 million alpacas. In the United States, we have about 220,000 registered alpacas, so that’s not a lot of alpacas. If you think about just the number of sheep in the United States alone is well more than 3.5 million, right, so alpacas are more rare. Their fiber is a little more uncommon. 

So you’re being greeted by Murphy. Do me a favor and don’t let him jump up on you. We’re trying to train him. So, Murphy is about five months old. We have two dogs out here. This is Parker behind you. Parker’s breed is a Maremma or Maremma, depending on how you say it. Murphy is a Great Pyrenees. So, Parker’s nine, Murphy’s about five months old. Murphy’s in training as a livestock guardian dog. These dogs are guardians. They’re not herding dogs. So, they’re out here to protect the alpacas and they bond to the animal, not the property. If I got livestock guard dogs that bond to the property, I couldn’t have you all come over. So, we got animals that bond to, we got dogs that bond to the girls and not to the property line. So as long as you’re not out here chasing alpacas, Parker’s pretty calm. So, that’s the purpose of the dogs. Yep, go ahead.

[Woman] What kind of predators do you have out here?

[Shelly] The primary predator to alpacas where we live are actually dogs and then second to that, I worry about people and then third is coyotes.

[Shelly] So, I do want to point out this lovely lady right here. This is Quinn and I don’t know if you can see, probably can’t see where you’re standing, but Quinn is due October the 3rd. So, she could have her baby any day, kind of just waiting. So, as you walk around, feel free to walk through, as you walk past, it’s her first baby, so we’re really excited.

[Shelly] [Woman] How old is she?

[Shelly] She is three. So, we typically wait until they’re two years old to start breeding them and then, the gestation is a year. So that puts her at about three. They have one baby at a time, that’s a really good question. They have one baby at a time. Gestation’s 345 days. We’ll call it a year ’cause most of em go about a year. They’re fantastic moms. They fiercely love their babies, so that’s always fun to watch and observe. They’re born out here and they stay out here. We don’t pen them up. Alpacas hate to be away from their herd. So if I pen up the mom and the baby, the mom freaks out. So, it just makes everybody nervous.

[Woman] Those in there just decided to go in?

[Shelly] They’re just laying in front of the fans because alpacas are not really set up for humidity. I was telling you 11,000 feet on the mountains. So, like to spend a lot of time in front of the fans this time of the year.

 [Woman] How long have you been open here?

[Shelly] We have had alpacas for 10 years. We’ve really been open to the public for about two years.

 [Woman] And what made you start alpacas?

[Shelly] So, we have small acreage, so we needed a small animal and I didn’t want anything we had to slaughter. So, it kind of made sense for us.

 [Woman] Do they bite?

[Shelly] They do not bite. They can nibble on you. They like to pull on my clothes and stuff like that to get my attention, but they don’t have any teeth on the top front, so even if they were to bite you, it doesn’t really feel like anything.

 [Woman] So, they chew from the back.

[Shelly] They have molars on the top. So, they chew in the back. You can see how they, if you watch them chewing right now, they’re kind of going like in a figure eight almost with their mouth ’cause they’re grinding their molars together.

 [Woman] I saw you’ve got lots of ribbons in there.

[Shelly] Yeah!

 [Woman] Do farms have standings?

Very interesting. No, like they don’t rank us against each other and that’s a kind of cool idea but we would, there are farms out there that are huge, like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of alpacas. So, we’re super small. So, for us to have those ribbons, it’s a big deal for us because it’s how you get recognized for breeding. It’s how we sell breedings to our stud. It’s how we sell animals if that makes sense to other breeders. 

So we have kind of like three, we have the breeding/stud service that’s one channel, sort of, of our business. Then we have the retail and then we have what we’re doing today which is like agritourism and between all three of those things, ya know, it’s a profitable endeavor. 

So, alpacas just nurse their mom. Other moms rarely let other babies nurse. But we have, this year, like I said, we have seven babies and this female in the front here, facing sideways, her name’s Willow and I’ve been, we’ve been joking because she does not have a baby right now but we’ve been calling her the busy body aunt. She’s overly involved in the babies. Every time I come in the pasture, she gets up, she looks for all the babies and is like okay and she keeps her eye on em. I’m like she’s such a nosy. She’s like the busy body aunt. Well, I came out, I don’t know, it’s probably been three or four weeks now. I came out and she’s nursing Pearl.

[Shelly] So she nurses Pearl, but she’ll only nurse Pearl and she has milk, so I was like, she can’t really have milk but I checked her and she actually produced milk and she’s nursing Pearl. She won’t let any of the other babies nurse. So, Pearl has two moms. She’s growing fine.

 [Woman] The other one came up like they wanted to nurse.

[Shelly] Yeah but she’s not going to let anybody but Pearl nurse. It’s so crazy, she thinks Pearl’s her baby.

 [Woman] Oh my.

[Shelly] But what’s fun is she actually, we actually just sold Willow and they want her pregnant. So, she’s going to get to have her own baby. So, I started breeding her. So, a year from now, she’ll have her own baby. So, that’s exciting. We only have a few boys & the rest are all girls. It’s great, we always prefer girls.

 [Man] At what point do you separate the male?

[Shelly] As soon as they start acting like a male. It’s around nine to 10 months old, believe it or not. So they can’t complete their task. But they become highly annoying. So, it becomes a lot of jumping up and so then, it’s a lot of spitting and it just becomes a lot of nuisance.

 [Man] Do they have different dispositions once they’re mature?

[Shelly] Not really. The boys do act, the only real main difference between grown boys and grown girls is that the boys have a really clear hierarchy. So there’s a lot more fighting. They’re constantly like reestablishing their pecking order. Lots of farm tours, pretty much do them every weekend now.

 [Man] What is the yoga with alpacas?

[Shelly] Yes, we do yoga but we’re done until spring. So, we do yoga right here and I block the girls in really super close like this and we put hay around. So, we do yoga right here. It’s super fun. So, we’ll start that again in the spring.

[Woman] You all were at the Christmas tree farm.

[Shelly] We go to the Christmas tree farm, yep. 

Thank you guys for coming. I’ll just hang here and you can move around.

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