Santa Ynez Valley, October 2007 - Miniature Horses, Alpacas, and California Wine Country
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For our anniversary, Lisa and I drove out to the Santa Ynez Valley, California wine country, land of the adventures in the movie "Sideways".

Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee split peas for you at Andersen's Pea Soup' in Buellton, the gateway to Santa Ynez Valley's legendary vineyards. 

Pea soup.  Mmmmm.  Always make a trip better.

Los Olivos cranks up the charm with its country-and-western buildings, plentiful flower arrangements, and, shown here, its art parks.  Benches made of horseshoes are not my idea of comfort, but it's a marvel to look at.

Owners Aleck and Louise Stribling have been breeding miniature horses at Quicksilver Ranch since 1983. We stopped by for a visit, and ended up wanting to take home a miniature horse.  You'll want one too after you see these photos.

And although the sign warns, "don't feed fingers to the horses", it's primarily up here for children and anyone lacking common sense.  The horses are gentle.

Lisa and one of the miniature horses.  The miniature horses can grow to be about 175-200 pounds, about the weight of a Great Dane.

The ranch manager with two miniature horses at Quicksilver Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley.

She told us that these miniature horses, depending on a variety of things, may cost between $3000-$15,000.  She said they're gentle, wonderful with kids, don't chew furniture, don't leap up on people, are fun to take on walks, can live in the back yard, curl up next to you while you're watching TV, and can pull ten times their weight. 

I really would like to walk around my neighborhood with a miniature horse.  What a great conversation starter!

Ol' Blue Eyes.

A four-month old miniature baby horse, Danica, inspects my camera.

I love snout photos, and you should too.

Lisa bonds with Danica at the Quicksilver Ranch.

Danica the 4-month old baby miniature horse.

Miniatures are remarkably gentle, patient, mild mannered, easy to handle, and are now smaller than some large dogs. They make excellent pets and playmates for young and old.

Miniature horses can easily be hitched to a cart or wagon and can pull up to ten times their weight. The ranch breeds for small, well-mannered show quality miniature horses that have good driving ability at affordable prices.

Lisa wonders if Danica can fit in the back of my Ford.

The next stop was Alpacas de Los Olivos, an alpaca farm "dedicated not only to the breeding of high quality Alpacas with champion bloodlines, but also introducing the world to the wonders of Alpacas as pets."

Alpacas, along with llamas, are members of the camel family. Alpacas are quite a bit smaller than llamas, and have a gentle, curious disposition. Their fiber is very fine and highly valued by the textile trade.

Alpacas can be sweet and gentle...

...and not a little goofy.

Ed Warynick told some stories about the intelligence of alpacas, and how they seemed to understand what he was saying.  And he seems like the sort who tells it like it is.

Llamas also live at Alpacas de Los Olivos.  In fact, the ranch has some guard llamas who will actually attack intruders, turning around to use their hind legs to slash in an attempt to decapitate their adversary. And that's if you can get past the two large Great Pyrenees.

Alpacas de Los Olivos.

Some of Santa Ynez' legendary vineyards, just outside Los Olivos.

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