A couple in Lompoc decided to quit their day jobs and take on raising Alpacas.
Their ranch now houses a wide range of animals, and they’re the only fiber mill in Santa Barbara County.
From alpacas, llamas and Icelandic sheep; these animals are used for their fiber coats, which are turned into yarn by Ranch of the Oaks.
Rancher and mill operator Mette Goehring said, “We’re the only fiber mill in Santa Barbara County. We’re the only ones who take it full circle, meaning take it from the animal and make it into yarn.”
Mette and her husband Tom started the ranch in 2002, and four years later they bought equipment to make a fiber mill at their home.
Co-owner Tom Goehring said, “It’s basically a 12 step process, taking it from the raw fiber off the animal into either robbing for hand spinners or yarn for knitters, crotchetier, and weavers.”
The couple makes yarn with their animal’s coats, but their main business comes from others who specially ship it to their farm just outside Lompoc.
“We get a lot from California and Washington. We’ve got fiber from Arizona and some from back east and the mid west,” explained Tom.
The mill processes over 2,000 pounds of fiber a year, and they’re one of the largest alpaca farms in the county.
Tom said, “Nobody realizes that it takes as much as it does. They just kind of think they go to the store and take it off the shelf.”
The couple says the animals are easy to maintain and even have their own personalities.
“They’re very easy to work with, very easy to handle and they’re always entertaining,” said Mette.
Ranch of the Oaks may be a small fiber mill with only two employees, but what they do produce is popular among yarn enthusiasts.
For more information: http://www.ranchoftheoaks.com