I remember the first time I heard the words, “You oughtta charge admission!” It was a sunny, Sunday
afternoon in 2014 and Scott and I were in the alpaca pen loving on a brand-new baby alpaca. Pearl was
fuzzy with a funny pink nose. Her momma, Escalada, was protective and was barely putting up with my
advances toward the new baby. When I turned around, over a half dozen bodies lined the fence on the
west side of the pen. Neighbors, friends, and friends of friends had received word that Escalada had
given birth and had made the trip to 10 Rim Road to see the new cria. That’s the moment that
somebody standing along the fence said the words
You oughtta charge admission...
Prior to this sunny Sunday afternoon, I had entertained the idea that people would come see our
animals, but I had huge doubts as to whether people would actually pay
to see our critters. I had shared my daydreaming with Scott and, as always, his support was unconditional and his willingness was
immediate. But neither of us knew whether we had a real business concept or the skills needed to bring
it to fruition. When Scott and I heard those words said aloud by someone other than us, the courage to move forward in Faith took hold.
The animals had started arriving in 2010. That’s when we brought a pregnant D.D. Donkey home. She
gave birth to Pumpkin. Then Chewbakkah, a Mammoth Donkey, joined us in 2012 and he was followed
by another Mammoth riding donkey, Zipper, that same year. There was Zeb-ed-dee-doo-dah and Dusty,
both fawn-colored alpacas; Rian and Opie, white male alpacas; and Sterling, a male gray alpaca. Then
we got the girls: A dark fawn-colored alpaca named Escalada, who was pregnant (with Pearl) and who
had 6-month old, brown cria, Anais, by her side; and Hoku, a black female, was also part of that group.
Later, a friend who spins fiber and loves alpaca, purchased two Suri alpacas, Sally and ‘Lil Suri Girl, and
homed them at Wassermann Wranch wanting only their annual harvest of fiber in return.
Would these animals be interesting enough to draw visitors? When I am excited about something I talk
about it. I talk about it a LOT. I talked about our animals ALL THE TIME. Some people listened. Some
rolled their eyes. Others, like Nancy Davila who runs what is now The Mercado on Murphy Street in Alpine, gave us the opportunity to bring our animals to town so we could start spreading the word about Wassermann Wranch to the public.
I loved having these animals. They soothed my soul.
I wanted other people to have the same experience. And if possible, I wanted this to be our “career.” Scott and I sat down to develop some goals and formulate a business plan. There was a list of things that went into that initial document, but the concept that was put into writing that day which has remained our number one priority is this:
"We want Wassermann Wranch to be a blessing to others."
. Yep, that was (and still is) our mission statement.
Whether it is naïve or lofty I’m not sure...but it works. We aren’t rich, nor do we want to be. However,
we have everything we need and a lot of what we want. When we head out to give a tour with our
mission statement in mind, the experience transcends a mere business transaction. We make friends.
We have the privilege of touching lives in a positive way. People experience joy, wonder, and
sometimes even peace.
If you had asked me back in 2014 when all of this started whether I thought we’d have kangaroos as part
of the Wranch I would’ve laughed at you. But now we have three kangaroos with, hopefully, more on
the way. We also have Spur, the miniature horse and at one time we had TEN donkeys out in Donkey
World. Prior to COVID we hosted pumpkin patches in the Fall and gave Santa a place to land at
Christmas. It takes my breath away when I think about how many people have walked the rocky paths
around Wassermann Wranch—there have been thousands. That’s just crazy!
COVID has changed us a
bit; perhaps it helped us focus on what we do best. We facilitate opportunities for people to spend time
with animals in a beautiful place (scenic Sunny Glen). The depth of that experience is up to the visitor,
but the opportunity is there for all who seek it.