Macel Koerth walks through a group of young female alpacas, which are being weaned away from their mothers.
She calls each alpaca by name as she hand-feeds them small nutritional food pellets. Some of the more outgoing alpacas begin to nose their way to the front, trying to get another morsel. The shyer alpacas hang back and wait for a turn. Others just hum with excitement.
“You know why they hum? Because they don’t know the words,” Koerth said with a laugh. “That’s an old alpaca joke. That’s how they communicate. They’ll hum if they are content or they’ll hum if they’re stressed.”
For a third year, Macel and her husband, Bruce Koerth, have opened their southern Tonganoxie ranch, Kaw Valley Alpacas, to the public as part of the National Alpaca Farm Days.
The two-day event on the last weekend in September gives the Koerths an opportunity to share their side business with other people in the area.
It also gives the 46 alpacas a chance to get a little more attention.
“They love farm day and visitors because they get lots of extra pellets,” Koerth said. “I love people coming out. I could talk their ears off about alpacas. I especially love watching kids with the alpacas.”
This was the first time Eilene Lawrence and her granddaughter Paige Lawrence have come out to the ranch from their home in Lawrence.
Lawrence said it was nice for children and adults who live in the city to come out to the country and see and learn about the animals.
Paige said she liked going because the alpacas were cute.
“They have pretty little faces,” she said.
Also joining the Koerths during the event was Sharron Shaw, owner of La Costa Alpacas in Platte City, Mo. Shaw boards her alpacas at Kaw Valley Alpacas because she is in the process of finding some land for her own ranch.
Shaw said she had always been uneasy around animals, but that all changed when she and her husband, Jim, started buying alpacas 8 years ago.
She fell in love with them, and now La Costa Alpacas keeps anywhere from 60 to 80 alpacas in Tonganoxie, Junction City and Tacoma, Wash.
Shaw has become very attached to her alpacas, and when one of her favorite alpacas, Lola Falana, was killed by a pack of wild dogs this April at Kaw Valley Alpacas, it broke her heart.
“I cried and cried,” Shaw said. “She was special from the first time that we saw her. She just had a presence about her.”
She said they named that alpaca after actress and singer Lola Falana because a white tuft of hair and her personality made her very flamboyant.
Since the incident, the Koerths have taken extra precautions to make sure the alpacas stay safe.
Kaw Valley Alpacas, 22925 Hemphill Road, Tonganoxie, will continue the farm tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.