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Where the alpacas roam

A ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley is home to dozens of alpacas

Posted: June 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Betty Marks, left, leads mother alpaca Valentina as Cecilia Secka carries her four-week-old alpaca baby or "cria," named Coa Coa Puff, back to the pen after their fleece was sheared at Secka's Sweet Water Alpaca Ranch in Agua Dulce. Photo by Dan Watson.

 

When Agua Dulce resident Cecilia Secka tired of her career in the hospitality industry, she did the unusual.

She bought an alpaca ranch.

“I wanted a little bit of a less stressful life after over 20 years in hotel management,” Secka said in a recent interview.

“I saw an ad on television and was intrigued.”

Starting her Sweet Water Alpaca Ranch more than 10 years ago with just two animals, Secka now has 35 of the camelid mammals that are related to llamas.

She raises and sells the animals and also sells the wool once a year when they are sheared for the summer.

This year, all the alpacas got their haircut on May 24. The alpacas need shearing once a year before the heat becomes uncomfortable, usually in the beginning of May, Secka said.

Alpaca wool can be spun into yarn or felted. The wool is lighter and warmer than sheep’s wool and, unlike sheep’s wool, is hypoallergenic,

Secka sends the wool to a mill in San Diego and also donates and buys alpaca products from the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America. She often knits and crochets the yarn herself. 

Since the genesis of her new career, Secka has had many favorite alpacas.

“There’s one little girl. She’s really, really sweet and very friendly,” Secka said.

“I love them all, they all have their personality and just like children you have favorites, but you shouldn’t.”

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