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Meet Barbara Davies of A Simpler Time in East County in Crest

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Davies.

Barbara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Our adventure began in the year 2,000 on vacation at a resort in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The first night of our stay we attended an informational meeting about what we could do in town that week. There was a gentleman there inviting the guests at the resort to his alpaca ranch in town. We had never heard of an alpaca, but he let us feel a teddy bear made from alpaca. We were amazed at how soft it was and decided we had to go find out more about alpacas. Our week was spent mostly at his alpaca ranch and the more we learned, the more fascinated we became.

We learned that alpacas are the easiest livestock to care for in that they don’t gorge on their food so you don’t have to feed morning and evening, you can just fill the feeder full and go away for the weekend. They have a community pile they use and will actually wait in line to use the pile, so are extremely clean. They are ruminants and are very efficient with their food so much so that one bale of hay will last an alpaca an entire month. No grooming is required, but they produce a luxuriously soft fiber that after shearing can be made into yarn and finished garments that are warm and very comfortable. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that we had stumbled upon the perfect livestock choice, so by the end of the week we bought four alpacas and started a new chapter in our lives.

After our first shearing, we sent our fiber off to a mill for processing and a year later we discovered that they still had not gotten it processed as they were too backlogged. Realizing that this industry was in need of more fiber mills, we started researching what it would take to have our own fiber mill.

Delays in permits for the barn put us into the end of November 2002 before we could start building the structure for the mill that needed to be completed and have equipment in place before the end of the year for tax reasons. Despite impossible odds, with my husband Dave who was the primary overseer of the project laid up in the hospital with a ruptured appendix, the barn was completed on schedule by the Christian community, friends, and relatives coming together for an old-fashioned barn raising. The company that we bought the mill equipment from traveled over Christmas from Nova Scotia all the way to California so we could have our equipment here before our tax deadline, so we wouldn’t lose our seed money we needed to start our business.

Less than a year from the time we started processing fiber for a living, we lost our home to the 2003 Cedar fire that devastated so much of our area at the time. The next 5 years were divided between rebuilding our home and building our business. Once we were able to move back into our home in the year 2008, we were able to build our retail shop and start retailing our alpaca yarn, roving’s and finished goods made from alpaca such as socks, gloves, hats, scarves and more recently the very popular alpaca dryer balls.

A Simpler Time – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in training people new to alpaca ownership, coming alongside them and teaching them everything they need to know to feel confident in caring for these beautiful animals. We are available for ongoing support and offer half price breedings for all those who buy their alpacas here. Clients are always invited to bring their alpacas back to our ranch for shearing day once a year.

Alpacas are extremely environmentally friendly and their fiber is a wonderful sustainable, renewable resource. Operating a fiber mill makes us more aware of this than some, and it is wonderful being able to show the process from growing the fiber on the alpacas, shearing it and processing it in the mill into yarn and then making finished goods from that. I love seeing especially groups of children that come through for tours getting to see the process.

What sets our yarn shop apart from many others is that the yarn is made and hand dyed right here at A Simpler Time, as well as many as the products such as alpaca dryer balls are also made right here.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
When we first started our fiber mill we sent out one mailing to let the alpaca ranchers in California know that we were here. Since that time we have never advertised, but have been kept busy just with word of mouth advertising. One satisfied client talks with a friend and refers us to them for processing their fiber.

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