Terrebonne’s Crescent Moon Ranch is continuing its legacy as a family-owned business, as a third generation of family members is now helping out at the popular alpaca ranch.
“It’s been a wonderful experience to be able to work with family,” said Scott Miller, who got involved with the Crescent Moon Ranch in 2000. His parents, Joseph and Diane Nelson, founded the business on San Juan Island after 30 years in the restaurant business. Crescent Moon really took off for them after their auction purchase of a well-known stud male alpaca.
“He had a very solid track record of reproduction,” Miller said. “He was a proven stud that had a tremendous reputation of success.”
The stud was sold for the highest price ever paid for an alpaca, and that auction transaction put the Crescent Moon Ranch on the map in the alpaca community.
“That male and purchase gave us a lot more than we anticipated with marketing and our visibility in the industry,” Miller said. “Articles were written around the world.”
With their newfound notoriety, the Nelsons decided they needed to relocate their ranch to a more accessible area.
“With that purchase and that visibility, we suddenly had a lot more people coming around to see what we were doing. That’s what prompted our move to Central Oregon,” Miller said.
They researched the Central Oregon area, and found a perfect fit in Terrebonne. Not only is the area populated with lots of other alpaca breeders, especially on the West side of the mountains, but the dry, sunny climate and available irrigation made it a great place for the Crescent Moon Ranch.
“We were totally relocated to our present location in Terrebonne by the end of October 2002,” Miller said.
After the move, the Crescent Moon Ranch continued to grow. In 2003, it became a partner in the Parade of Champions Auction, a high-profile sales event within the alpaca community held in Hillsboro each year. And in 2005, at another world record price that still stands today, the family sold half interest in the same stud that had skyrocketed the Crescent Moon Ranch to fame in its industry.
Eventually, after they’d been in the alpaca business for about five years, Miller’s parents decided to retire. They now split their time between Sisters and Southern California, and still remain involved in the ranch’s operations whenever they are in town.
And Miller’s wife Debbie and her daughter Rachel have gotten involved in the family business, as well.
“It’s really a 100 percent family-run business,” Miller said. “My wife handles all of the medical attention that the alpacas need and require.”
In addition to keeping the animals healthy and happy, Debbie is also in charge of the on-site ranch boutique that opened in 2007. The boutique sells clothing made from luxurious alpaca fiber.
Rachel helps her mom with the alpacas and the boutique and runs the ranch office, handling record keeping and customer service. And Miller has an uncle who lends a hand as well, taking care of some of the ranch finances and helping to maintain the property during the summer.
And as for his “retired” parents?
“They do whatever needs to be done,” Miller said. Their latest project has been helping out as the ranch has started growing its own hay to feed the nearly 400 alpacas on
“We thoroughly love raising and working with alpacas, and enjoying the alpaca lifestyle,” Miller said.
And perhaps more importantly, the family enjoys working together.
“We love one another. It makes it easy to work through anything that comes up.”
The secret to working with your family?
“Make sure it’s something that you enjoy doing, and make sure you enjoy working with your family to begin with. Make sure you enjoy being around them. That is the case with us,” Miller said.
On the horizon for the Crescent Moon Ranch is continued involvement in the alpaca world, and a busy schedule for this summer and beyond.
The ranch is teaming up with the Humane Society and Healing Reins charities during its June shearing festival, and will be involved in the Parade of Champions auction in July. August will bring an educational event for breeders, and National Alpaca Farm Days is coming up in September.
Information: www.crescentmoonranch.com, 541-923-7130.