Mimi’s Ark: Alpacas lead good life in Descanso

Alpacas are curious about human visitors


By Mimi Pollack

Mimi and her dog Lumi

DESCANSO, California — The Atlas Alpaca ranch in Descanso, owned by David Kabbai and Amy Alyeshmerni, is truly a haven that offers a break from city life. Kabbai and Alyeshmerni live there with 65 alpacas, two dogs, two cats, one rooster, and various chickens.

When I first drove up, I was greeted by two sweet Anatolian Shepherds. Caleb, the 155 pound male, tried to climb in the car with me when I opened the door! Tika, the female, wanted me to pet her and followed me around. These two gentle giants are also loyal guard dogs whose duties include guarding the alpacas from predators. They usually work all night guarding the herd and relax during the day. These dogs originated from the Anatolia region of Turkey and are known for their intelligence and strength.

The stars of the place are the 65 cuddly and curious alpacas. Some of the alpacas belong to a good friend who is also in the alpaca business. Actually, alpacas are not usually cuddly, and they sometimes spit, but these alpacas are used to people and come right up to sniff you or inspect you. Some even give you kisses. The ranch has them separated into three groups. They have the mamas and their babies in one pen, the single females in another and they keep the males in another area that is quite separate. It is important to keep them separate as alpacas are instant ovulators.

A mother follows her babies, keeping close tabs on them

They all have their unique personalities and Alyeshmerni went about introducing me to them. The fluffy babies, Harry and Adara were a bit shy, but the protective mamas, Princess and Fanunella greeted us. Alpacas are smaller and less aggressive than llamas. Their diet consists of special pellets and hay. They also have magnificent coats, their fleece is very soft, and the fiber from the fleece makes exceptional yarn. I saw white, black, caramel and two toned alpacas

The alpacas at Atlas Alpacas serve several purposes. The males with good conformation, backs and legs are used as studs for breeding. Some of the animals are sold, but Kabbai inspects where they will go to. Finally, and most importantly, they sell their fleece and fiber with Amy spinning most of it herself.

In fact, Amy finds sitting at her spinning wheel and spinning the fiber into yarn to be an almost meditative experience. She confided that it has brought her closer to the animals. She sometimes sends out the fiber to be processed which includes cleaning and carding. Some of the yarn is natural and some of it is dyed, and there are yarns of different weights, such as super chunky and super fine.

Several times a year, Kabbai and Alyeshmerni host an open ranch where the public can learn about alpacas, buy yarn and other alpaca related items, relax in the fresh country air, and take in the lovely views.

The next open ranch is going to be on Saturday, February 11th from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. Their website is http://www.atlasalpacas.com/

Atlas Alpacas is at 9718 River Dr. Descanso, CA 91916

Pollack is a freelance writer and animal lover based in La Mesa, California.  She may be contacted via [email protected] .  Another SDJW story about Atlas Alpacas may be found at http://www.sdjewishworld.com/2016/06/16/63480/

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