Armani Jackson, C0-Editor-in-Chief
Right off of State Route 512, a curious miniature ball of brown fur peeks her head out at drivers hoping they’ll catch a glimpse and want to play with her. Other woolly creatures soon join her, and more drivers are slowing to sneak a peek at these animals. One new alpaca after another, Four Directions Alpaca Ranch continues to expand their land and staff.
For the past three years, former Access and Disabilities Manager Michael Mesa has spent the majority of his time cultivating the peaceful environment he hopes to provide his visitors. His goal was to retire and become a full-time alpaca rancher and two and a half years in his position, that goal was unexpectedly achieved. Mesa was offered an opportunity to go back into the mortgage industry where his career started. He said it was an offer too good to pass up.
Mesa worked in the lending portion
of the mortgage industry before he was hired at Pierce College Puyallup. He found it related it to his position as ADS Manager.
“It’s really not that different than what I was doing in ADS,” he said. “You look at a situation, you look at guidelines and you try to figure out how to make things work and what fits in. It’s a bigger stage, financially. I have a little bit more freedom (for work).”
His new position is a mortgage consultant for International City Mortgage in downtown Tacoma and does a majority of his work directly from his office, which just so happens to be in the middle of the alpaca pasture on most days. The calm environment has allowed him to spend more time on helping people find the right house and provided him with the opportunity to watch his herd grow.
In July, Mesa welcomed the newest edition to his expanding farm, Primera’s daughter Milly. Now the ranch has 20 alpacas, all coming from local pastures and fellow ranchers. The herd has two males, which switches the dynamic a bit since the farm was previously all female.
“Each alpaca has their own personality and temperament,” Mesa said. “They’re all just very curious and it’s a lot of fun. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
One of the new alpacas, Alberto, comes with a hanger sagging with awards. He’s won 24 ribbons in various competitions judging things like fleece quality, stature and potential traits that could be passed to an offspring. He’s also a national champion. Mesa hopes Alberto’s son Elijah follows in his footsteps.
The farm is now full-service, meaning it can board, breed, offer ranch tours and more. For those looking to own one of their own alpacas, Mesa is more than willing to sell and even offers up to six months of free boarding.
“It’s definitely an ongoing adventure,” he said. Even through the fall and winter, if someone is interested, we’ll still do farm visits. It’s a fun experience holding onto a wet alpaca. They don’t really seem to care.”
Mesa loves his new lifestyle at the ranch. He couldn’t be happier than he is being with the alpacas.
“You have to love it in order to put up with scooping poop, chasing them down and giving them shots, and the shearing and the birthing process,” Mesa said.
The field capacity is 50, but Mesa has some more work to do before he adds more. One of the projects he hopes to accomplish soon is the tear down of his barn and restore one of the back pastures.
The ranch is open for free tours and alpaca hugs. Visit www.fourdirectionsalpacas.com for more information.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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