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John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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alpaca-kissesAlpacas, a relative of the more familiar llama, and are native to the high Andes mountains of South America. Alpacas are one of the world's oldest domesticated breeds of livestock. With a history predating the Inca empire, alpacas have played a central role in the Andean cultures for five thousand years or more.

Alpacas are related to Camels, being part of the "camelid" family. While the Bactrian and Dromedary camels are found in Asia and the Middle east, in South America are found llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuna. All share common traits such as two toed, padded feet, a striding gait and a split upper lip.

Traditionally kept in small herds tended by natives of Peru, Chile and Bolivia, alpacas are a fiber producing animal. In their native lands they have been used for clothing, food and heat for many thousands of years.

More recently alpacas have found their way to North America, Australia and Europe where herds are being established. In all of these areas attempts are being made to develop industries utilizing the fiber produced by alpacas.

In the late 1970s, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization defined the ideal animal for the future. The animal should be

  • a ruminant,
  • it should need little water,
  • it should be highly fertile, and,
  • it should provide people with protein and other products.

Alpacas fit this ideal. To find an animal of the future, people need look no further than the alpaca.

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"He smoked several pounds of my tobacco, and taught me several ounces of things worth knowing; but he would never accept any gifts, not even when the cold weather came, and gripped the poor thin chest under the poor thin alpaca-coat. He grew very angry, and said that I had insulted him, and that he was not going into hospital. He had lived like a beast and he would die rationally, like a man..."

Rudyard Kipling
Indian Tales
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