V is for Victory, of course!

Y’all. I got to visit the Victory Ranch. Ok, great, Andrea. You went somewhere and probably already told me about it on Facebook. But wait! Lemme tell ya about this little gem of a place. I bet you can’t guess what’s there. Here’s a hint: not chickens. No friends, the Victory Ranch is not a chicken place. It’s about alpacas! Lots of alpacas. 200 alpacas, a few horses, and big dogs. Did I geek out? Of course.

You know how some people are put in your path at the right time? Well, that’s how I feel about Carol Weisner. She’s the owner of Victory Ranch and, with her two amazing staff members (alpaca wranglers? alpranglers? wranglepacas?) run the 1,000 acre ranch providing tours to the public every Friday through Monday.  Not only that, Carol invited my family to the ranch on their day off. I’m not that popular but I’d like to think it helped. Just kidding, it didn’t.

Let me start from the beginning…

Remember when I got those alpacas and had no idea what to do with them besides what the books said? Well, I realized I needed in-person help and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. I found Victory Ranch online and sent a quick email. Boy, am I glad she answered! After a few quick conversations on the phone, it was settled. We could come down on a Tuesday and check out what alpacas “should” look like. See, my boys are cute and cuddly but they need their nails trimmed, their teeth ground down, and next spring will be in dire need of a shearing.

So Carol invited us with open arms and we took the invite with open minds! Within an hour, I made 3 new friends, my daughter fell in love with Rosie the Great Pyrenees, and I got some amazingly soft socks and gloves. I also learned stuff, too. Like how alpaca fiber (it’s not wool, it’s fiber) doesn’t contain lanolin; that lanolin can be an irritant for people with sensitive skin. No worries with alpaca fiber because they don’t have lanolin! It’s not itchy.  And it’s warm. Sooooooo warm. I saw what raw fiber looks like, what finished products look and feel like, what alpacas look like after a shearing. I saw healthy nails, ground teeth, happy alpacas look like! We got to feed some and halter one. They’re just freaking cool.

And then there’s the shop. O to the M to the G. So many beautiful things to touch and buy! I ended up with some dryer balls. Ya know how everyone is going the green route? Well, out here we still don’t have recycling but I at least don’t have to use dryer sheets or fabric softener. So far, so good. Not good. Fantastic. It’s one less thing I have to spend money on and dryer balls can last for at least a year or more. Plus, no chemicals, no worries you’ll run out. And they reduce energy consumption. Go get some.

I’m gonna plug the hell out of this place because it’s that amazing. When Carol and her husband opened up this farm 25 years ago, it was because they wanted to live out their dreams. While her husband has since passed, she continues to dream big. You can’t help but respect and love her for that. Seriously, if you aren’t near the Mora/Las Vegas, New Mexico area, you need to find an alpaca farm close by and check it out. Alpaca Farm Days are coming up and a lot of places will be open next weekend for the event. It’s a cool little day trip, you’re around cute fluffiness, so why not? Plus, you might make new friends along the way.

Something else to consider: buy something while you’re there. Supporting these small farms and small ranchers (like us!) means you support a local business and a family investment. You know I’m all about helping out my friends. A lot of small places like this only survive when you, the visitor, bust out your wallet. They don’t have big name supporters or sponsors. There isn’t a government subsidy that will bail them out if things get tough (and they are!). They have you. If you can, get something for yourself and a gift for a friend. Sure, it might be a little out of your budget but it might mean they get to dream big another day.

Here’s another plug for ya. Just down the road from Victory Ranch is the Salman Raspberry Farm. It’s recently been sold but things will hopefully stay the same. You can pick your own raspberries or buy some prepackaged in the store. Have a quick lunch at the cafe and enjoy the scenery. It’s really gorgeous and I have to admit, I’ve never been back there but always wondered where that road next to the big red barn on I-25 would take me. Turns out, it took me to a happy place.

Here’s a list of links you should check out:

Victory Ranch Facebook Page – like and follow their page. If you are thinking about adding alpacas to your place, they have some for sale!

Shop the Victory Ranch store online here!!! PS – there’s a gorgeous orange coat in the far back of the shop. My birthday is December 27. Just sayin’….

Salman Raspberry Ranch – I got a wildflower seed mix that I can’t wait to sow!

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Road Trip!

We haven’t officially moved yet but we did have business to tend to up at the ranch.

  1. Help my mother-in-law move back home.
  2. Figure out where to put her new home.
  3. Get the land ready for oncoming cattle.
  4. Meet and greet our new town.
Egg Hunt in the Snow. Because it's New Mexico.
Egg Hunt in the Snow. Because it’s New Mexico.

 

1. Seems easy enough but really, there’s an emotional rollercoaster when you go home minus a family member. I have to hand it to her, she only cried once (that we knew of) that week, but home is home.

2. That was pretty easy to figure out. Put it here, move the angle, add a road…FYI, do yourself a favor. If you’re getting a new mobile home put in, know EXACTLY what is expected of you and EXACTLY what is expected of the manufacturer. We had a little hiccup and didn’t know until a few days ago. We are back on track but it doesn’t hurt to have a punch list of sorts to get you going in the right direction.

3. Y’all. I fixed fence. Not like “Oh, fixing fence sounds so romantic and outdoorsy! Will it ruin my manicure?” Seriously, I fixed fence with my husband after only a couple of hours of learning and watching and doing with a great family friend who’s patient enough to answer all our crazy questions and teach us all he knows. In all honesty, a couple of hours is an exaggeration. We learned in about 30 minutes then spent the next 1 1/2 hours perfecting our technique. It’s an art that ranchers hate. I’m still in the honeymoon phase of this ranching lifestyle, so it was fun. They say I’ll learn to hate it soon enough. Here’s the gist of how it works: Drive on the perimeter of a giant square. Look at the fence. Is it leaning? Is it busted? Is there slack? Get out, grab the wire stretcher, your good pair of wire cutters, some baling wire if it’s near a post, and the roll of barb wire. Trust me, just get it all ready – going back and forth from the truck is annoying. Fix the fence. It really doesn’t take long once you know what you’re doing and how to use the tools. My father-in-law did have this great invention he found at a conference/expo a few years ago called the Texas Fence Fixer and it’s extremely handy! Jump back in the truck, repeat. We did find a prairie dog village and, while cute, prairie dogs are bad news bears for ranchers and hazardous to cattle. Also found a hawk’s nest in a tree near one of our stock tanks. That was pretty cool! The way she was eyeing Nacho, I’m sure she has hungry chicks. Hubby and daughter also checked the water pump, I hauled loads of wood, we cleaned up the horse saddles, got all the ranch vehicles running after a long winter away, hauled dirt, obsessively checked weather, etc.

4. I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at names. A lot of people in town I know simply because my husband and I have been together for over 10 years. This is his hometown so we all see each other at least once a year for the Fourth of July parade and street dance. By the way, if you ever get invited to a small town celebration, go. It’s crazy fun. We went to a sale barn, met people at the bank, at the saddle shop, at the grocery store, at the café, ya know…everywhere. The best part of small town living? A handshake is what you do to close a deal. A hug is what you do to greet people. I have my issues with personal space but it’s starting to grow on me that I’ll get a hug before I get a handshake.

Did I mention we did this all within a week and I had a head cold the entire time and my daughter had this horrendous, phlegmy cough? We were flying through essential oil in the diffuser as well as this flu shot (in a shot glass) my friend was telling me about. It worked, so I can’t complain. Oh, and the hubby has a bruised rib and pulled tendons in his hand a month before we left. And it was snowing on our drive up. Yep. That’s how we roll.

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Fixin’Fence 3 days later.                           It’s NM, that’s how we roll.