Friday, January 30, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

English Hills family brings a little bit of the Andes to Solano

Alpacas Vacaville 4_3_14

Deb Galway brushes her hand across some Alpaca fiber, harvested from one of her 33 animals, at her Menagerie Hills Ranch, north of Vacaville Thursday. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | April 10, 2014 |

ENGLISH HILLS — The alpacas of Deb Galway’s Menagerie Hill Ranch seem to hardly notice the human activity around them as they sun themselves on an English Hills slope.

Half a world away from their native environment on the lower slopes of the Andes, they are producers of what Galway says is the softest fleece you will find anywhere.

It was Deb Galway’s husband’s concern about keeping the area clear around their 3,000-acre English Hills ranch that got the family into the business of raising animals.

“We needed lawnmowers, so we got some Barbados sheep,” Galway said.

The family’s involvement in 4-H increased the animal population to include horses, a steer, hogs, llama and other large farm animals, giving rise to the name Menagerie Hill Ranch.

It was at a 4-H Kidfest that Galway met an alpaca breeder and was impressed with what she calls “their greenness.”

“They are not destructive. They are easy to clean up after. They produce good fiber,” Galway said. She later said that they also require much less acreage than other farm animals. “They are very mild-mannered and also show guard behavior like a llama.”

Their interest in people visiting the ranch ranges from mild interest to benignly ignoring whatever is going on.

Members of the camel family, alpacas are native to the Andes of South America, where they are domesticated herd animals. They are smaller than llamas. The first alpacas, outside of zoos, were brought to the United States in the 1980s. The number of breeders has grown slowly since.

Galway bought her first five alpacas in 2008 and has since slowly expanded her herd to 33, not counting about a half-dozen others she is boarding for others who are in the process of setting up their own acreage. With the exception of a few llamas, alpacas comprise the current population of Menagerie Hill Ranch.

Growing her herd is a slow process because female alpacas only give birth to a single offspring once a year.

Galway said alpacas are intelligent and respond well to training and handling. She spends about two hours a day feeding her herd and shears them once a year.

“The fleece is excellent,” Galway said, “It’s really soft. It’s really dense.”

While there is a lot of interest in alpaca fleece and the customer base is growing, Galway said there’s not a thriving commercial market yet. She makes most of her fleece sales at her ranch and at shows.

“Most farmers sell in small amounts off their farm,” Galway said.

Galway’s ranch is one of about four or five ranches in the Vacaville area with alpacas. Most have smaller herds, what she calls hobby farms.

She also operates a small store in her barn, selling the fleece, alpaca yarn and items that include alpaca socks and pet beds. She will be one of a host of alpaca breeders who will bring their animals and alpaca products this weekend to the Dixon Fairgrounds for the first time.

The Ninth Annual California Classic Alpaca and Fiber Show will have more than 150 alpacas from California, Nevada, Oregon and Arizona farms gathered from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Dixon Fairgrounds, 655 S. First St.

Visitors who are curious about the unusual animal will get the chance to learn more about the alpaca industry by talking to the breeders who care for the animals and the artisans who create everything from clothing to pillows from their soft wool. There will be vendors offering the latest alpaca fashions and handcrafted items.

Alpaca wool has often been compared to cashmere for its softness. It is also hypoallergenic and is one-third the weight of wool, according to the Alpaca Owners Association. The California Alpaca Owners Association was the Alpaca Owners Association’s first regional association formed in the northern hemisphere in 1989.

Visitors can also watch the show ring competition, where the alpacas will be judged on the quality of their fleece and whether their bodies conform to the standards for an alpaca.

Galway advises anyone who is thinking about getting alpacas to “start with a plan and work out what you want them for, whether as a hobby or making a big operation out of it.”

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Skeptic ScroogeApril 10, 2014 - 10:33 pm

    luv luv luv her yarn! Great for knitting baby booties and mittens.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Teens earn right to perform with symphony

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

From classical to Queen: Chamber Players are ready

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Photographer has a passion for color

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Solano summit focuses on ways to end poverty

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 23 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
Cadets learn skills for future careers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
‘Souper Bowl’ coming to Solano County

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

 
SolTrans announces changes to bus routes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Fairfield police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 28, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

California’s snow survey shows far less snow than last month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
City event criticized for Mexican mafia connection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

State to move more than 2,000 inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Boy Scouts reaches settlement in sex abuse case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Protestors shun sister-city relationship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Tech advances lower chance that driver will die in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Fort Hood gunman Hasan says he wants to keep top lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Attorney General nominee wins GOP endorsements

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Police: Family killed man over child custody dispute

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Killer says his ideas influenced family suicide

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
NASA astronaut memorial stirs memories for shuttle veteran

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘Anonymized’ credit card data not so anonymous, study shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
 
Simultaneous attacks in Egypt’s Sinai kill 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Indonesian investigators: Crashed AirAsia flown by co-pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Gas blast at Mexico children’s hospital, at least 2 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Families plead for lives of IS hostages as swap hopes fade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Deadly San Francisco blaze spurs look at fire alarms

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 30, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
 
 
.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My cousin’s 14-year-old son sleeps in the same bed as his grandma

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Jan. 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Jan. 30 through Feb. 5, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: A tired gimmick weakens thriller ‘Project Almanac’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

‘The Thorn Birds’ author Colleen McCullough dies at age 77

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hilary Duff, George Lopez help in search for stolen dog

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Justin Bieber apologizes for bad behavior in online video

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Musician Geezer Butler arrested in Death Valley altercation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lil Wayne sues mentor’s record label for $51M, seeking split

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jim Parsons to play God in Broadway’s ‘An Act of God’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande to pay tribute to Stevie Wonder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
 
Bernie Mac widow drops malpractice lawsuit against doctor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment Calendar: Jan. 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

 
Vanden boys pull away from feisty Fairfield 86-66

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7

Serena aims for 19th major in Aussie final vs. Sharapova

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Marshawn Lynch talks about why he doesn’t talk to the media

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Gronkowski and Chancellor make for must-see Super Bowl matchup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Signups for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
.

Business

Chevrolet polishes its mid-size truck

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Prospect of Chinese cars in US still remain years away

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Senate passes Keystone XL bill, battles loom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
McDonald’s under siege as new CEO steps in

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Obama seeks spending spike for defense, domestic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

 
Who wants a bite of Hershey…jerky?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Gloria Elizabeth Neal

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Joseph Phillip Raiff

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Dzhon Athanc

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9