Location, Location

The new happenings for us in 2020! If you’ve seen us at an event, fair, ranch, or market, you know we love to share about all things alpaca!

New Store Location In Bozeman

Our Second Store is at The Market building off Huffine. AlpacaLand is located at 730 Boardwalk Ave. Suite 104. Bozeman, MT 59718. Here our lovely upscale boutique shop you will find beautiful alpaca items, jewelry, yarn, clothing, and meat.

Current Herd

Our herd is currently 350 or so alpacas, with a nice variation in numbers due to alpaca sales and new births. 2020 cria expected is around 75! Cria (babies) start coming in May with a long season this year through November. This year we are focused on breedings, our core herd of high quality alpacas, the demand for healthy meat, and new custom products. We would love to share more while you visit with us!

Camping

Yes, the ranch is open for camping, with the majority coming in from the Harvest Host program, folks staying one night and supporting our ranch with a purchase in the store. We love being an agritourism location! New this year is designated sites, some inside the pasture with the alpacas and some in the main lawn. We are adding new green features like solar panels for power in the back 20, water tanks, outdoor showers (coming soon), and a fancy glamping style tent stay.

Family

We still are a family run ranch, though changes are here this year! Mom and Dad head to Brazil on a Mission for The Church, Stuart also heading out this year, and the younger kids getting old enough to handle bigger chores. You will see the teens on the ranch running the store, doing tours and handling lots of parts of the Business. The Kids are super amazing! Christina (Anne’s Amazing twin) joined us a few years back- so that means Anne is cloned so who knows which twin you will see everywhere!

Products

Custom is here and more items are coming! We have so many new items in the works, this year we roll out more items than ever before! We are working with new mills, and current suppliers for incredible new offerings exclusive to Sentinel Ranch and the AlpacaLand stores. So far this year we have put out dozens of new items and colors, and many more coming throughout the year. Come to shop often and ask what is new. Do you have an idea? We’d love to hear it!

The Best Alpaca Sock

The Best Alpaca Sock.

Alpaca Ski Sock

Start with Alpaca and there you have an incredible fiber than is unbeatable, I’ll tell you why.

Alpaca fiber is incredibly fine, 25% finer than wool and 8X stronger, making alpaca socks lighter, warmer, stronger, and more comfortable. It is soft to the skin, a fiber that naturally wicks away moisture taking your sweat off your foot, keeping you comfortable on a warm day or insulated on a cold one.

Alpaca vs Wool. Why do other socks stink after wearing? Because wool, cotton and other fibers absorb moisture and hold it next to the skin, yuck! They irritate your skin and smell after wear. Wool also contains Lanolin which has a smell all its own, also many folks find lanolin on their allergen list.

Alpaca is Hypoallergenic, has excellent insulation properties, is a natural, sustainable, green fiber being shorn each year. An excellent choice for the environment, plus your performance and comfort needs.

Alpaca socks are machine washable! Yes, you can even hand wash, or rinse them in the stream and hang dry while on an outdoor adventure.

Should I buy 100% Alpaca Sock?
Blends are better. Here’s why: you need performance and durability in a sock that fits your foot, plus washes a multitude of times. What are the best other fibers to blend with the alpaca to create the best performing sock? Well that depends on end use. Dress Sock, Hiker Sock, Ski Sock, Diabetic Sock, Casual Sock, etc.

Lycra and Spandex are great fibers that give elasticity and memory, holding it in place, keeping it surrounding your foot in just the right way for the perfect performance of the end sock.

Nylon. Excellent strength, luster, hypoallergenic, smooth and light weight.

Microfiber is thinner, soft, moisture wicking fiber. Easy to clean blends well with other fibers.

I would not recommend cotton or wool as they both absorb moisture, trapping sweat or the puddle you hiked through, and forcing the fibers to ‘stick’ to your skin.

Alpaca Blend socks are the way to go!
Click on our Alpaca Sock Shopping pages and you will find dress socks for work, church, or a night out. Ski socks and hiking socks that perform! Winter socks for the ultimate thermal properties. Summer socks for those who love the short yet highly performing sock. Want more options? Call us or Shop our Store location at Sentinel Ranch Alpacas for 20+ sock varieties.

Researched and Written by
Anne Gullion
Sentinel Ranch Alpacas
3765 Sales Rd.
Belgrade, MT 59714

Alpaca Fiber Characteristics

Alpaca fiber is a natural renewable fiber with a wide range of applications. It is classified as an animal protein fiber like sheep’s wool, mohair, cashmere, llama, vicuna, camel, qiviut, and yak. There are, however, special characteristics in alpaca fiber that set it apart from all the other animal protein fibers.

At the microscopic level, all animal protein fiber has scales around the shaft of the individual fibers. Alpaca fiber scales are at a lower angle from the main shaft, which reduces the prickle or itchy feel often encountered with sheep wool. The individual fiber diameter of alpaca ranges from 15 – 36 microns depending on the grade of fiber. When properly sorted, alpaca can feel softer than other animal protein fibers of the same grade because of the uniformity of micron and the lower scale structure.

Alpaca is a single coated animal, and the fiber generally does not have to be dehaired like cashmere, llama, camel, qiviut, and yak. This leads to greater yields of fiber after processing.

Alpaca fiber comes in two types, huacaya and suri. There are differences in the two: huacaya fiber has crimpy waves and grows in bundles, while suri fiber is straight and grows in locks. Huacaya reflects light as brightness, suri reflects light as luster.

Alpacas come in over 16 different natural earth tone colors, and can be blended into even more! Even with all those color choices available, alpaca is easily dyed to wonderfully beautiful colors from pale pastels on white or beige to rich jewel tones on fawns, greys, and even browns using natural or organic dyes.

In 2009 – 2012, special tests were conducted on huacaya and suri alpaca fiber to determine some intrinsic characteristics of alpaca fiber. In these tests, no differences were found between huacaya and suri fiber.

Alpaca is flame resistant, meeting the standards of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s rigid testing specifications as a Class 1 fiber, the safest level of flame resistance for use in clothing and furnishings.
Alpaca is resistant to external water penetration like wool, but can slowly wick away perspiration because of its unique ability to act like cotton in moisture regain. These factors are what makes alpaca feel lighter than wool, but warmer than cotton in cool, damp conditions.
Alpaca is water resistant, making spills easy to clean up before water saturates the fiber allowing stains to develop. It is also adsorbent to oils, meaning that the oils do not penetrate the fibers, but merely cling to the fiber for easy cleaning without harsh chemicals.
Alpaca is free of lanolin, and thus can be processed without the need for high temperatures or harsh chemicals in washing. The lack of lanolin also minimizes the likelihood of allergic reactions to those who are sensitive to wool, which contains lanolin.
While the type of fabric dictates the level of thermal insulating properties, alpaca fiber has a high natural thermal conductivity level, but also can “breathe” due to its lighter weight by volume.

How do I get Started owning Alpacas?

How do you get started with your Alpaca Business or ownership? What if you don’t have land? What if you need to get your land ready?

We recommend you visit the ranch for an exclusive tour while we discuss your desires for alpaca ownership, care, prices, what to expect, and answer all your questions.

Questions to Consider:

What do you see yourself doing with your alpacas? Luxury fiber animals to process your own yarn? Do you want to resell your product? Do you want to expand your herd with having breeding animals? Do you plan to show your alpacas? Just think about it and if you aren’t sure we would love to chat with you and help you plan what is right for you.

Land not ready? You can agist with us! What does agisting mean and what is your first step? Agisting means you purchase your alpacas and they stay on our ranch. Agisting on our ranch means we take care of your new alpacas as if they were our own, feeding them, husbandry and care, including breeding them if you desire. The benefits to agisting is that you can begin to own alpacas while learning about them, being mentored by us, visiting (anytime you wish) our working ranch, and at the same time you are building your business, acquiring your land, or making it ready for your herd. We have found this accommodation to work very well for you as the new owners as you have a chance to shadow us on routine care and learn about management and care, or just enjoy a beautiful sunny day in the field with your alpacas. We also will help you tune your business plan and help you make it a venture that works for you.

What if you prefer to live near your job? Can you still own alpacas? YES! We also provide “Lifetime” agisting for those folks who want alpacas yet live in the city. You can come and see your alpacas and even run your own alpaca business while your alpacas live on our ranch. We would be happy to discuss arrangements with you, contact us to ask how easy it is!

We have multiple clients who have taken advantage of agisting on our Ranch. Folks reasons and situations vary greatly, but it can all work! We have folks who choose alpacas, then let them stay on the ranch until they are set up, even if it means years. We have clients who agist for a few months, and those who are “lifetime” agistors. We even agist alpacas from other ranches.

We are happy to work with you and help you get started with owning alpacas. We are very open about our business, what has worked for us and how we are successful. We want to see you be successful as well. We love to mentor.

Send us an email or give us a call. We would love to put together a group of alpacas just for you, come to the ranch and select your perfect alpacas.

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Farm to Table Event

Sentinel Ranch hosted our first Farm to Table Dinner featuring local ingredients! We had 36 guests and were able to honor a group of Georgics (caring for the land and it’s production) Students who completed a year of study and projects. The students had a chance to share some of what they learned and the specific projects they raised or grew. We had indoor and outdoor gardens, composting, raising animals and worms. We support these hard working students and the principals they learned!
So why do we love Farm to Table? We believe in locally sourced products, including our food. On our own Ranch we are striving to process as much of our alpaca fiber locally as possible. Each year we add new fiber products. Alpacas are shorn by Nathaniel each June, then the fiber is milled locally into products sold right on our ranch. At the Farm to Table Dinner we enjoyed locally produced food, and our guests were able to see the alpacas whose fiber was milled into items like scarves, roving, yarn, rugs and make purchases of these wonderful items.
We enjoyed our guests, everyone had such a great evening! Donna King of Cama Beach Cafe really out did herself with the menu, it was absolutely scrumptious! Check out the mouthwatering menu:
Hors d’oeuvres
Asparagus Tart
On puff pastry with gruyere cheese, shallots and fresh garden herbs.
Bacon Wrapped Baby Potatoes
Tiny new potatoes – wrapped in bacon and roasted, drizzled with a sour cream sauce and finished with chive.

Dinner
Harvest Salad
Organic local greens w/fresh strawberries, goat cheese and almonds
Roasted Red Potatoes
Crisp and tender potatoes roasted until golden brown in olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh garden rosemary and parsley.
Wild Mushroom Bisque
Demitasse cups filled with our delectable soup made from morel mushrooms and dusted with mushroom powder.

Seasonal Vegetable
Broccolini

Braised Boneless Short Ribs
One of our signature dishes. Prime flavorful rib meat, seared and slowly braised until perfectly fork-tender. Served with demi- glace and topped with fresh herbs.

Roasted Chicken Breast
Marinated overnight and finished with a sauce of butter and fresh garden herbs.

Vegetarian Timbale

Artisan Dinner Rolls
Warm fresh-baked rolls, mixed – multigrain, sourdough, poppyseed and white.

Rustic Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Fresh raspberries and rhubarb baked in our own butter crust. Served with fresh whipped cream and strawberries.

Ready to purchase your tickets and plan to join us for a feast of local interdependence?! Contact us for the next Farm to Table Event!

Special Thanks to all those who supported this event. Our guests tickets helped allow our Georgics Students to attend the diner free as a culminating reward for finishing their studies and completing all assignments, projects, presentations and requirements. We were also able to offer family members of the students reduced ticket prices. Thank you to the mentors of the Georgics projects- Jennifer Jarrett, Ladonna Hoyden and Anne Gullion.

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Knitting on the Sound

We were asked to participate in a great event put on by Mary Lovejoy. Mary brought a group of knitters together for Knit Yoga on Cama Beach. The scenery was fantastic, friends were close, Yoga brought serenity, and lunch was divine!
Donna King participated and made us all a sumptuous lunch. I felt spoiled!
What did Sentinel Ranch do? We brought the yarn! So much fun talking with new and experienced knitters and we enjoyed providing our beautiful local alpaca yarns. Lindsey (who is the owner of Stilly River Yarns) made a gorgeous cowl and is a fantastic teacher! We are looking forward to working with Lindsey, Mary and Donna in future events!

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Boutique Remodel Complete!

Autumn of 2015 we began a remodel on the Monitor Barn, as a new location for the Alpaca Boutique!

Remember the trailer from the previous year? It’s gone to a new home- hooray!

The whole family worked the autumn months changing a storage space into a lovely ranch store! Renee cleaned, nailed, and grandpa even taught her how to wire the outlets! Grant got to try the nail gun, mostly enjoying carrying a hammer, measuring tape and checking out the tools. Stuart and Bryant did some serious work, especially in the effort of the beautiful tongue and groove pine for the ceiling with dad and grandpa. I spent most of the week days for weeks and weeks till my belly got too big with Vincent and I had to hang up my overalls and watch the boys finish the work. We are pleased to say we officially opened in November 2015!

We love our new space and so does the community. Featuring products made from OUR OWN fiber! We also have included products from Peru that benefits the families ranching alpacas there. We also participated in a co-op that processed fiber from our herd and others across the USA right here in the states for lovely products made in the USA.

Come and see the Boutique with new products arriving constantly, seasonal updates as well! We also have small bags of grain for purchase so you can enjoy an incredible pasture petting and feeding experience! Take a selfie shot or two with the fuzzy faces and bring friends!

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Showstring!!

In the next week we are planning on listing all of our showstring for the 2014 fall shows, and 2015 spring shows. Watch for the listing to include: Sire, Dam, Color, Sex, and Price! Yes we will list all of them for sale, so when you see the one you just need to have, contact us to work out the details!

I am very excited to walk into the catch pen and analyze all of our juveniles and yearlings! They are always so cute, we want to take them all, but we are going to be selective about the very best animals that will make the show cut! We are going to employ some experts to advise us on the best choices, so come back to look at what you will be up against at show, unless you decide to buy one of these beauties in time for show!!

The photo shot was a great fun day where we invited family members to come over and see some of the latest cria from this summer! It was fun to watch the guys wrangle their chosen cria and bring it up to the scale for weigh in! Do you see that huge grey male in the photo? Gandalf is going to be a large male- weighing in at 60 lbs at two months old, and already mounting the females! Look out showring!

Cesarean Section!?!

I know you’ve had a Dam like this- 364 days– where’s that cria?! I have a wonderful white Dam I just love, and of course was waiting on one of the most expensive breedings of the previous year- sound familiar? Well I had my eye on this gal for weeks, and finally at 362 days she starts acting like labor-YAHOO!! Some moaning and standing and siting. This goes on for and hour and then I check under the tail- ah geee, not much dilation going on for a Dam in labor! Soon my girl quits moaning and goes into her normal routine, and I think ‘I suppose there is always tomorrow’, as I trudge up the house. Next day she acts completely normal- not a sign of impending delivery!
Here we are morning of day 364. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing! RATS! Usually I feel confident of checking the pasture for laboring Dams until 2pm, then I wait till evening. Today I go out at 3pm and guess what, yes, that’s right my gal is moaning again! It’s about time! Under the tail check reveals very little dilation so I run to the medical supplies and use an essential oil on the cervix that is supposed to help dilate, and massage it in every twenty minutes for an hour. Very little change and I can only get three fingers in, and now my Dam has been really trying to push for an hour! Its time to rush off to the vet at 4:30pm. My awesome vet sums up the situation (Failure to fully Dilate) and suggests the Cesarean procedure.
OK, so I am nervous that all will come out right, I have talked with the God silently several times this day!
I was also excited to get a look at a procedure I hadn’t yet encountered, and thought it would teach me valuable animal husbandry lessons, so I dove into being involved in the procedure as possible!
First, we shave the fiber off of my Dam and wash the shaved area so clean it’s pig pink! Then the surgery room gets ready. Next my Dam goes into the surgery room, gets put into sleep, and kushed onto the surgery table. It was very nice, the vet even had a pillow for her head and neck! Then we rewash the area so its sterile, and make a sterile field. Then a beautifully straight incision, and in 60 seconds the cria was out! I was in charge of the photos of this awesome event, and the cria when it arrived.
OH, OH, OH, My heart breaks as I gently whisk away a beautiful white female that had already passed. What now?! As I try to clear away the questions and concentrate on my Dam, I feel blessed that the procedure finishes so very well and the three layers of stitches look great. It takes her about 90 minutes to wake up enough to gentle her back into the van on blankets and head home. She seems dazed, not really registering her cria next to her.
Next morning she is staying next to her cria that I decided to bring into the pasture so she can get some closure, and have a chance to realize what happened. There are flies all over her stitches so I coat them over with a wonderful animal ointment made for healing and the files disappear. Later that afternoon I cover the cria almost completely with a towel and notice my Dam is grazing and drinking further away. In the morning we take out the cria and have a proper funeral. My Dam knows what happened and never once has cried and paced the gate (like a previous Dam who lost a cria and I didn’t let her see it- dumb idea!).

A Week had passed, my Dam is recovering extremely well and I have already planned her next breeding at 42 days as the vet suggested. I hope you are as fascinated by the pictures as I am. Do call me if you want even more of the nitty gritty! If not- well look away and read a different blog of mine!

Gosh I love my animals and I am grateful for what I learned this time, of course I wish it was different, but that is also how I learn, grow, plan, and have funny stories to share at the next Alpaca Event!

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Cria crop summer

Summer is always enjoyable on the ranch especially when those greatly anticipated and well planned cria start to hit the ground! The weather has been exceptionally fine on our ranch this summer, lots of sun and alpacas of all ages enjoying vitamin D naps! Isn’t it funny to pass by an alpaca deep in sleep- I’ve got some that snore! We have been blessed with 3 males and 4 females so far! Only one Dam delivered early, one on time, the rest quite late!
Best moments of the day: Cria play and pronking!

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