Written & Photographed by Kalie Ilana Cassel-Feiss
Four generations ago, two families immigrated from far away lands to settle in a small town in the Central Valley of California. In this town called Turlock, Larry and Maureen Macedo now continue the tradition of their ancestors: Larry’s from Portugal, and Maureen’s from Sweden. Upon settling in Turlock, both families established ranches and farms. All these years later and no less than one mile apart, welcome to Macedo’s Mini Acre: home to 76 alpacas, 6 llamas, 3 miniature horses, a handful of mini rex and lionhead rabbits, and Larry and Maureen Macedo.
They’ve been at it for twelve years as Macedo’s Mini Acre, on what is actually a ten acre parcel, all flood-irrigated by way of old tradition. Both Larry and Maureen’s work is full time on the farm, and they employ the help of their grandson Ethan in the summers and weekends. Ethan has a particularly special connection with his prize winning llama named Keebller; the kinship is apparent as they stroll in unison through the field.
What inspires Larry and Maureen in this work is being able to do things themselves and to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the process from beginning to end. “It’s a simple life,” says Maureen, “there’s a lot to be said for natural living and environmentally-sound and good practices. We don’t want to poison the land or the water, that’s really important to us.”
With 76 alpacas strolling under the setting sun, backlit beneath the ninety-year-old cottonwood trees, I’m taken aback by the grandiosity of the whole vision as well as the distinct beauty and personality that each animal carries.
“Alpacas are the coolest, most unique, and very gentle creatures, with amazing fiber. I like that alpaca fiber has a good soft hand – it’s good to work with – but you don’t have to wash it before you start working with it. They are real sweet animals and smart enough to do an obstacle course!”
Their alpaca breeding program focuses first on the quality of fleece, with an average micron of 22 and a range from 16-30, second on the consistency of fleece, and third on obtaining multiple colors with paints and pintos. The Macedo’s produce around 400 pounds of fiber a year, selling yarn, raw fleece, roving, batts, and finished products such as scarves, hats, socks, rugs, and felted mats.
Larry and Maureen’s dedication to the animals is evident not only in the happy disposition of the animals themselves but in the quality of the fiber they produce. You can purchase their products onsite in their brick and mortar shop in Turlock, or online on etsy and ravelry. It’s worth a visit to their farm to witness the old lineage established by both families four generations ago, and to see it in the very same place, continuing on strong.