So You Wanna Know More...
Starlight Alpaca Ranch is located just south of America’s hometown, Hannibal Missouri, and has been in the huacaya alpaca breeding business for 10 years. The ranch was the dream of Tom Martin and at its peak was home to over 100 of these gentle creatures. With the passing of Tom, many of his alpacas have been dispersed throughout the region and, as his legacy, at least seven new alpaca ranches have been created with Starlight alpacas as the foundation. A small herd of fiber boys, non-breeding males, remain at the ranch and provide us with the fiber we use to acquire our products. Alpacas have elite fiber that is five times warmer than sheep’s wool and soft to the touch like cashmere. The products made from alpaca are beginning to be appreciated for their awesomeness. We have operated a small ranch store for over six years, have sold product at area fairs and festivals, and through these endeavors an almost cult-like following has developed. If I had a nickel for every time a person pointed down to their feet and told me they were wearing their alpaca socks, I could probably really retire. The number of repeat buyers is staggering. We now are reaching out to bring our world of alpaca products to your world through our Shopify store.
Alpacas do three things quite well; they eat, poop, and grow fiber. The fiber that they grow is harvested once a year on what is easily the worst day of an alpaca’s life (and consequently the alpaca rancher’s life as well) Shearing Day. At Starlight we refer to shearing day as a “SPIT HAPPENS” day. Tying down the alpaca with ropes attached to each leg the alpaca is denied his number one defense- RUN! leaving him with his number two defense- SPIT! With a sock over the alpaca’s mouth to contain probably the foulest smelling body fluid of all, the shearer removes the luxurious fiber. A team of ranch helpers quickly gather the fiber into two large bags- one for the blanket of the alpaca which is the prime fiber from the back of the animal and the other for the neck, legs and belly fiber called seconds. As the alpaca is led away the sock is removed carefully and discarded. This is an alpaca spit sock and is not to be confused with the alpaca sock you will buy online from us.
Once the fiber is collected and we have collected our wits, we clean the fiber by removing dirt and VM (vegetable matter) with a leaf blower. We then box up the fiber and ship it to the New England Alpaca Fiber Pool, NEAFP, and order products. NEAFP collects fiber from alpaca ranches throughout the US and processes it into alpaca products such as socks, gloves, hats, scarves and mittens. This allows alpaca fiber to go from ranch- to product- to your home.
Ranch Manager and co-conspirator of Starlight Alpaca on Shopify
I have been ranch manager at Starlight for the last eight years. I retired from teaching and coaching at a nearby town, lured by the promises of all the poop I could scoop by my wife's sister and her husband who had started Starlight two years before and were in need of a ranch manager. I was joining my brother-in -law, Tom and another brother-in-law, Lew in the operations of the ranch. About three years ago Lew and I began home brewing at the ranch and I launched ALPACA WIZ, my private label of home brewed beer. Between scooping poop, dodging spit, and drinking ALPACA WIZ, I think I have all the alpaca bases covered.
Manager of Canadian Fulfillment Center and co-conspirator of Starlight Alpaca on Shopify
Drew studied computer animation at DePaul University for six years, not realizing that you could actually graduate. He met his partner, Ryan, on line so all the time he spent studying computers and researching on-line gaming paid off handsomely. Drew hates cold weather so we were shocked when he decided to attend college in Chicago and even more so when he got married and moved to Ottawa, Canada.
Director of Operations
Marquita is the operational mastermind behind the business and is in charge of all things inventory. While this does sound like an administrative task you shouldn't be too shocked if you find her in the barn feedin' and waterin' the alpacas. She tries her hardest to steer clear of the barn by staying busy with her grandkids and working at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, MO. As a retired kindergarten teacher counting has always been her thing so counting the socks just extends her resume.