Finding sweet Alpaca love in Agua Dulce, CA.
I feel like I’ve been hanging out with a lot of different kinds of animals lately and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a kid growing up, our backyard was full of them. From chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, horses, cows, rabbits, pigeons and of coarse plenty of cats and dogs, we had quite the menagerie.
While most of these animals became our pets, some of them also provided us with food, clothes, and a source of income.
I learned about the miracle of birth and the tragedy of death just by stepping outside into our backyard, but the most important lesson I learned was about love. Don’t get me wrong, my father, sister and the rest of my family showered me with incredible amounts of love but it was the animals that really made me feel special and I still get that feeling from them today.
After a recent trip out to visit the big cats of Shambala Preserve in Acton, CA, my friend and I decided we weren’t ready to end our animal love fest just yet, so we headed over to Aqua Dulce to spend a little time on an Alpaca Ranch.
When owner Cecilia Secka tired of her career in the hospitality industry, she did the unusual, she bought an alpaca farm.
Starting her Sweet Water Alpaca Ranch more than 13 years ago with just two animals, Secka now has around 20 of the camelid mammals that are related to llamas. These incredible creatures get sheared once a year, which keeps them cool during the hot summer months and also provides Secka with another source of income.
Alpaca wool can be spun into yarn or felted. The wool is lighter and warmer than sheep’s wool and is also hypoallergenic.
She sends the wool to a mill in San Diego and also donates and buys alpaca products from the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America.
She often knits and crochets the yarn herself. I actually bought some really soft & comfy socks during my visit.
Their annual ‘haircuts’ definitely give these alpacas a unique look.
Alpacas are sometimes kept as pets, but they are mostly sheared for their fibers.
Secka boards, breeds, sells and shears alpacas at her ranch, providing a stud service, fiber products and public visits for anyone interested in seeing what these animals are all about.
Though alpaca meat is eaten in South America, it is a controversial product in the U.S. Thankfully no slaughtering occurs at Sweet Water.
These three ladies were trying to get the attention of the males, which are kept in a separate pen in order to keep them calm and also control their breeding behaviors.
Sweet Water is open to visitors on most weekends, but give her a call @ (661) 645-1420 to verify. A $10 per person donation is all you need to spend some time with these gentle creatures and perhaps take a new pair of comfy socks home with you.