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  Aragon Alpacas Ann & Mike Dockendorf Oregon USA  www.aragonalpacas.com
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About Aragon Alpacas

"Alpacas are the life of me!" This thought came to mind when driving back from the ranch where our animals were agisted (boarded). The joy I felt when seeing them emerge from the feed trough with hay atop their heads, or a mom kissing her newborn, or a pregnant female disdaining male advances, brought a smile to my face every time. And the enthusiasm spills over onto other daily tasks.

Before our farm was ready, our herd was agisted at two ranches where the animals received top quality hands-on care. I took every opportunity to visit them, whether for vet day pregnancy checks, toenail clipping, shots, halter training or to just sit in the pasture and observe their behavior. Often I took carrots to offer as treats, rewarding them for their trust in allowing me be among them.

Now our herd lives with us or we with them. Each morning I walk right out the front door toward the magnificent red gambrel barn, and eagerly look for their faces. Most times they are looking for mine, too, knowing it is time to be let out into day pastures for grazing.



On a lark one Saturday afternoon, we went for a drive in the country and happened upon an odd event held in the meadow of a local winery called AlpacaFest West.


Curious, we stopped in to see what it was all about.I felt as though we had walked onto a Jim Henson movie set: stunning, graceful creatures were being lead around by leashes attached to little halters. Some alpacas were fluffy, some were shaggy, all were curious, alert and peaceful.


We strolled about, eyes wide in wonder. Friendly people answered a multitude of questions as quickly as we could think of them. They seemed to be having a lot of fun. Spinners and weavers chatted about their craft with us. Children played or helped with the animals. The ranch names were clever, their presentations professional. Humming (akin to 'baa-ing') was the only sound from some of the animals. What manner of 'subculture' had we stumbled into?


While walking through the pen area, we collected brochures from ranch displays and stared at the alpacas up close. One young man was tending his animals so we stopped to chat. Some of thewording he used was strange to us huacaya, suri, cria? and Dakota simply explained each term. Then he scooped up a young one (cria!) for us to pet, and my hand melted into the softness.

We watched the show ring. For the most part, the creatures behaved even though they were being felt up and their teeth and privates examined. The judge made her selection, awarded ribbons, and explained her placements. They marched out, others marched in.


Adjourning to the winery for a tasting session, we mused over what we had just seen. I was fascinated by the whole production and curious about alpacas. I'd never seen or heard of these animals before.

Online, I located ranches near us and arranged visits, to ask more questions. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know, so I volunteered on two ranches for a few months. We already had in mind a retirement plan to relocate to yet-to-be-found acreage, and soon we added Alpacas to the equation. Not wanting to wait to start our herd, we began by purchasing two breeding females and board them at a local ranch.

Our chosen mentor, Carol-Anne Lonson of Canzelle Alpacas, was recommended to us repeatedly for both the quality of her animals and her personal integrity. And even though we have moved to our own farm in another state, it is a privilege to continue working with Carol-Anne.

With births and acquisitions, our herd grew from 2 to 12 in just one year. A few of 'the girls' were at home in the Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara, at Alpacas of Cusco North, where I visited once a week and 'talk fiber' with Bonnie Ottoman.

Having never owned lifestock before, we carefully considered the implications of getting involved in the alpaca business. We looked beyond the doe-eyes and the cute babies to the business model and the daily tasks, and agreed that the'alpaca lifestyle' appealed to us on multiple levels.

Our two-year search for farm property was rewarded! We purchased our farm in Eugene, Oregon, just 35 miles from Mike's birthplace of Oakridge. We readied the 1890s-era barn and pens, and after boarding our alpacas for three years with our mentors, we brought them to their new home. See more photos and notes of our progress along the learning curve on our blog. And for more recent notes and updates, check our FaceBook page.

People involved in this business for it IS a livestock business, no matter how 'cute' the product are generally friendly competitors. Ranch owners assist each other, knowing that sometime they may be the one in need. The industry is so new in the United States that we are all still learning about herd maintenance, medical procedures, reproductive choices, nutritional impact, etc. Our collective goal is toward higher quality fleece from the healthiest of stock; meanwhile we are the caretakers of these intriguing, gentle animals.

Thus began our journey with the New World Camelids. If you have any questions about alpacas or would like to arrange a visit to meet them, please contact us.

Ann & Mike Dockendorf
Aragon Alpacas
33005 Dillard Road
Eugene, Oregon 97405
~ a vintage agricultural venue ~




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