Anza Valley Outlook

The entrepreneurial path: Alpacas of Anza Valley

Friday, September 14th, 2012
Anza Valley Outlook
Issue 37, Volume 12.
Jodi Thomas, Staff Writer

In this changing economic time, many are either out of work, retired, or choosing the entrepreneurial path. They say that you should choose to do what interests you, something you have a passion for. Eight years ago, when Don and Julie Roy decided to retire from corporate America, alpacas and Anza were not even a thought. They were searching San Diego County for a piece of land large enough and flat enough to start an Empress tree nursery. When they made a call on an ad to a piece of property showing a San Diego zip code, they were surprised to learn it was in Anza, a place they had never heard of.

They decided to check out the property in Anza and fell in love with this mostly flat 10-acre piece of land and the house that sat on a slight hill. Looking from the house in any direction are views to die for. Soon, after their dream ranch purchase, they realized that Empress trees in such a large scale would take more water than their well system could provide, and that part of the dream came to an end.

Julie and Don Roy and their herdsire Dusty, a rare colored silver Alpaca.

Julie had seen an ad on RFD TV, just once before their subscription to that channel had run out. The ad was a website that talked about alpaca’s as an investment. That thought stuck in her head and finally, after a month, she went online and discovered what she and Don had been looking for. Alpacas could be something to be passionate about, more than just a hobby, becoming a serious potential business. From that day on, the Roy’s researched and traveled to different Alpaca ranches in the southern California area. They also took classes on anything and everything to do with Alpacas, to learn as much as they could. They even became “A Rancher for the Day,” gaining valuable hands-on experience at being an alpaca rancher before they took the plunge.

Julie also mentored under a local area veterinarian whose specialty was alpacas, becoming an alpaca midwife. From this passion, the Roy’s developed what they call “The Alpaca Lifestyle.” This is a lifestyle that became their passion and business. They lived it, wrote about it, educated, and mentored others, helping them find their niche in the alpaca lifestyle, too. Their eBook, “Alpacas Made Simple,” is a valuable tool for anyone interested in learning more about the alpaca lifestyle. It can be found on their website

“Our focus encompasses educating the new breeder to become successful from the start. As a certified business coach, I love to inspire people to create their desired lifestyle, even before they take the alpacas to their property,” said Julie Roy.

“Julie is an amazing teacher with a true passion for the alpaca and the agri/urban lifestyle. Her passion is contagious and the more time I spend with my alpacas, the more I wonder why I waited so long to reimage my lifestyle!” said Shirley, who is a happy customer.

Don supports the community as a computer doctor and webmaster, a compliment to all their endeavors. He has recently updated their business website,, and added another called, a place where everything about alpacas’ can be shared.

In addition to serving as the ranch manager for Alpacas of the Anza Valley (AAV), he still lends a hand and assists new breeders with their ranch layouts and computer needs. The Roy’s also provide “A Rancher for a Day” program, like the one they learned so much from.

Cute and loveable baby brother Alpacas.

Alpacas have been domesticated and raised for their valuable fleece for thousands of years in Peru. A cousin to the camel and closely related to the llama, they are the smallest of the group. Cute and unique, this beautiful, delightful animal pronks instead of runs, cushes instead of laying down, and has the most comical foot, consisting of two long toes. Another additional plus is when it is in the cush down position, alpacas can easily fit into a mini-van. This, plus their calm sweet nature, makes transporting them easier than most domestic livestock.In 2004, the Roy’s herd consisted of only a hand-full of animals. The ranch grew in a short five years to the present to host 40 to 60 animals at a time. There are two types of alpaca’s, a Suri, who’s hair grows in long ringlets, and the type the Roy’s have, whose fleece is fluffy, they are called Hycawa.

Alpaca fleece is known as the “fiber of the gods,” for good reason; it is hypo-allergenic and the yarn made from a special area on top of their back, called the blanket, makes the softest, warmest, and lightest yarn in the world. Items made from this yarn are extremely comfortable against bare skin.

Alpacas come in 16 main coat colors, up to 22, when including the various shades. These many shades of fleece spin into the world’s most luminous, luxurious, non-died yarns. The Roy’s have a boutique which features many handmade heirloom pieces to wear, as well as rovings for spinning, and skeins of alpaca yarn for your creative use. Their home grown alpaca yarn comes in many beautiful colors, specially blended to make beautiful colors. Each skein bears the name of the alpaca or alpaca’s that the yarn came from; a shade of deep red brown yarn from Manzanita, white yarn from Chablis, fawn, a pale blonde/red yarn from Cinnamon Sugar. This connection to the animal makes the items created from their yarns even more meaningful and special.

From the beginning, the Roy’s have offered a serious breeding program featuring a blue ribbon group of award winning studs, or herdsires. They have eight herdsires in a variety of fleece colors, density and fineness that call AAV home.

The Roy’s host their alpacas in California and Arizona Halter Classes, as well as Fleece Shows. And most recently “Spin-offs,” which are judged on how well the alpacas fleece spins into yarn. Alpacas are raised for their fleece, and when breeding and picking out your herdsire, one should ask to see the “Blue-ribbon” yarn and the written comments about the stud’s fleece when choosing. Breeding takes place in the cush position making breeding of these animals easy for the handler. An alpaca baby is born after a 11-11 ½ month gestation period and is called a crias.

“In the spring/summer of 2012, we welcomed in our 91st birth on the property. Both of us take pride in supporting a healthy environment for all new crias and enjoy creating friendly and respectful alpacas,”said Julie and Don Roy.

This year, the Roy’s will celebrate their 5th annual Open Ranch Day this month on Saturday, Sept. 29, through Sunday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

Prepare to be amazed and catch alpaca fever at Open Ranch Days. Come for a visit and enjoy Anza’s unique beauty where everywhere you look there is a beautiful view.

Make a day of it, experience the alpaca lifestyle and enjoy that feeling of childlike wonder when you meet the babies. Discover why alpacas are cute, unique, friendly, affordable, and useful pets. Watch the spinning demonstrations and enjoy refreshments and the beautiful Alpaca Boutique, where you will find quality heirloom items made from the “fiber of the gods.” Receive 10 percent off Alpaca items for a limited time.

Bring your friends, family, and kids, and don’t forget the camera to record the memories.

To get to the ranch, (from Temecula) take 79 South to Hwy 371, go north 11 miles to Cary Road, turn left and follow the signs. Address is 52700 Ardwell Drive. To contact the Roy’s, call (951) 763-4222 or Julie’s cell at (858) 361-6321.

Click for map directions to Alpacas of Anza Valley. 

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