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Amazing Alpacas

Crescent Moon Ranch and Alpaca Boutique

 

Crescent Moon Ranch sits on 43 acres immediately south of the Terrebonne town line, with epic views of the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson and Smith Rock. It is the home to Scott and Debbie Miller as well as 150 alpacas (raised by the Millers for their fleece) and Crescent Moon’s high-quality, nationally famous breeding program.

Alpacas have been bred predominantly in Peru for hundreds of years. The Quechua people co-exist with them as high as 10,000 feet in the Andes, harvesting the animal for food, shearing them for blankets and coats and selling their fleece to local fiber mills who then process it commercially in metropolitan areas of Peru.

Nineteen years ago, far from South America, on Washington State’s San Juan Island, Scott Miller’s relatives started raising alpacas. Armed with a mission to produce world-class, show-quality alpacas, the Millers began assembling a top-notch breeding program. In 2000, they purchased the most expensive alpaca available at that time, named 4 Peruvian Accoyo Legacy (or “Legacy” for short). This investment gave the ranch worldwide notoriety within the alpaca community. “It was a bit of a risk because we didn’t know how he would perform with the herd,” says Scott Miller. “Two years later, after multiple shows, Legacy earned the title of Herdsire of the Year, which created significant demand for our breeding program.” With notoriety came challenge—remote San Juan Island became impractical for their operation. “We relocated to Central Oregon in 2002 to be more accessible to the alpaca breeder populace.”

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Crescent Moon Ranch, in the high desert of Central Oregon, turned out to be a more ideal climate for the alpaca, with drier, sunnier and colder days than those on the San Juan Islands. In addition to the Millers’ residence (a farmhouse built in 1911), the property includes two multi-use barns. There is also The Alpaca Boutique—that sells goods derived from the ranch’s animals; the store and ranch are open to the public seven days a week.

The Alpaca Boutique is located in an old potato barn, with walls that consist of two feet of packed sawdust shavings and interior plank wood, lending itself to both beauty and comfort. An extensive inventory includes everything from sweaters to hats, coats, socks, scarves and blankets. Yarn and raw fleece are available for those who spin their own fiber or knit, and visitors delight in small gift items like jewelry, stuffed animals made from alpaca fleece, slippers and books.

Debbie’s daughter Rachel works the ranch alongside the Millers, and the team provides visitors the opportunity to interact with the animals, participating in activities that range from shearing to working with the fleece to making garments. “It’s our goal to provide a 360-degree view of alpacas, from breeding and fiber stock to pets,” says Scott Miller.

These mild-tempered, gregarious animals possess an inquisitive nature, endearing them to their owners. While they are collectively a herd, each animal has its own unique personality. Some are grumpy, some friendly, some are more inquisitive than others and a few are just pills. The Millers consider personality traits when breeding, along with conformation (the way the alpaca’s frame is built) and fleece attributes. “Because of our 20 years in the industry, we’ve assembled one of the finest breeding programs in the country,” says Miller.

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Birthing season lasts from the beginning of March until late August. During the months of March, April and May, the Millers attend alpaca shows to promote their animals and breeding program. “All of our alpacas are DNA tested and pedigreed with the Alpaca Owners Association, says Miller. “We sell them as babies after they’re weaned, which usually is six to eight months after birth. The majority of the females are breeding stock but most of the males will be pets or raised for their fiber.”

The Miller’s primary endeavor at Crescent Moon Ranch is to present the alpaca to the public as a multi-purpose livestock animal. “These delightful critters provide us with an opportunity to earn a living doing what we love to do,” says Miller. “They’re beautiful, majestic and smart, and their fiber is one of the world’s most unique.” At home in Terrebonne, the Millers raise some of the world’s most famous alpacas, sharing the experience with guests daily. “In this day and age of computers, cell phones and constant stress, we get to live one of the oldest professions known to man. We hope to create a beautiful property that’s inviting, engaging and optimal for people to come experience the alpaca.”

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