Adorable alpacas the center of attention at A Simpler Time Mill

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Ever seen an alpaca? Perhaps all you know of them is that they spit at people, like the famous closing scene in “Evan Almighty.” But in reality, these animals would be hard-pressed to do so. With wool as soft as angel clouds, alpacas are more likely to be your friend.

Ever seen an alpaca? Perhaps all you know of them is that they spit at people, like the famous closing scene in “Evan Almighty.” But in reality, these animals would be hard-pressed to do so. With wool as soft as angel clouds, alpacas are more likely to be your friend.

If you want to meet an alpaca face-to-face, the best bet is to call ahead for an appointment and take the drive out to A Simpler Time Mill in Crest. The journey alone, with hairpin curves on steep hillsides, to Dave and Barbara Davies’ residence and ranch is remarkable. By the time you get to their old-fashioned veranda-style home, you can slow down and catch your breath.

As soon as you see the alpacas, you will understand why Dave Davies chose alpacas as a livestock at his ranch.

“Alpacas are gentle and quiet,” said Barbara Davies, was letting alpacas named Bethany and Arabesque eat from her hand. “You don’t have to worry about them biting you.”

The alpacas were making little humming sounds. It’s their way of communicating with each other, Davies explained.

“You can pet them, too, but they are head-shy, so you just want to pet them on the neck and back,” she said.

That’s when people get their first feel of the unimaginably soft fleece.

The alpacas’ fleece, or fiber as the Davies call it, is the very fabric of A Simpler Time Mill. The Davies wash and dry the fleece and run it through a variety of equipment to make yarn suitable for handiwork.

“The whole process takes about a week,” said Barbara.

After a tour of the mill, guests will want to shop the little store where they can touch and hold teddy bears made of alpaca fleece. It was at first touch that Dave Davies began dreaming of having his own alpaca ranch.

When the Davies were on a vacation in Colorado in 2000, they were invited to come out to an alpaca ranch to see the animals. So intrigued was Dave Davies by the animals that the whole family ended up spending most of their vacation that week learning all about the animals.

They are quite clean animals, for one, and easy to care for, as only one bale of hay will feed an alpaca for an entire month.

The more the Davies learned, the more they realized that they had just stumbled upon the perfect livestock choice, especially since they would not have to butcher them to harvest their product. Their luxurious, soft fleece is a renewable resource that grows back every year.
Barbara Davies started offering yarn-dying classes and bread-making classes to guests at the mill.

“Our bread-making classes are the most popular,” said Barbara.

She and her husband raised nine children, seven of them boys. “They go through a lot of bread, so I ended up baking a lot,” she said.

Davies wanted to keep her bread natural and healthy, so she did everything by hand, including growing her own grain.

Still, the center of attention at A Simpler Time Mill is the alpacas. People are charmed when they hear for the first time an alpaca humming and have the opportunity to feed the animals a treat.

For more information, go to www.ASimplerTimeMill.com or call 619-579-9114 for an appointment.

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