Go ahead and laugh. It’s impossible not to.
From their comical faces to their sometimes bizarre behavior, alpacas are the perfect animals to keep you, your neighbors, and your friends smiling. The ones living at Five Star Alpacas in south Abilene even have funny names like Jangle, Spunky Moonboots, Cinnaberry, and Apple Blossom.
Their laugh-inducing qualities aren’t lost on the folks who own and operate Five Star Alpacas–Scott and Kara Corley, and Kara’s older sister, Kim Hancock, and her husband, Randy.
“I thought they would be cute in my backyard,” said Kara, the brain behind Five Star Alpacas.
Alpacas are natives of Peru, not West Texas, but the ones in the Corleys’ backyard in Pack Saddle Prairie (a neighborhood south of Kirby Lake) are thriving. And why wouldn’t they be? They get to graze all day on two acres of grass and are fed orchard hay, shipped from Colorado to Weatherford, where Randy picks up the bales every three months.
Kara had dreamed of owning alpacas for about eight years before saying so out loud at a marriage seminar at Southern Hills Church of Christ. Couples were asked to verbally express their dreams.
“Always speak your dreams out loud,” Kara said. “They may actually come true!”
Kara’s dream did draw a chuckle from the group, but no one’s laughing now–except at the antics of Jangle, Spunky Moonboots, and the rest of the gang. About a year after the marriage seminar, Five Star Alpacas became a reality. The year of preparation was spent learning as much about alpacas as possible, from internet research to visiting alpaca shows and farms.
The dream of Five Star Alpacas took shape as the Corley’s purchased five alpacas from Hidden Acres near Argyle. They arrived in Abilene on Feb. 28, 2020. Two more were purchased in Indiana in November 2020.
Today the original herd is expanding, with one birth that was expected in June, and others in August, September and October. In the past year and a half, the Corleys and the Hancocks have learned a lot about alpacas and their habits. The ladies of the group may have the strangest habit of all. They share one “poop” spot, standing in line to take their turn on the designated spot. The males, too, create shared “relief areas,” but more than one. Little known fact: Alpaca poop is highly valued. It can be spread directly onto a garden as a fertilizer.
Because the strange-looking creatures are so intriguing, Kara has a feature on the Five Star Alpacas Facebook page called Fun Fact Friday. Each week, she adds a “something you didn’t know” tidbit about alpacas. For example:
“Fun Fact Friday: Alpacas tolerate being touched on their necks and upper back. They do not like to be touched on the top of their head or towards their back ends. Should you touch them there, they are likely to throw a kick.”
Alpacas are irresistibly touchable. Their five-inch thick fleece is spongy to the touch and provides excellent insulation against winter cold. The Five Star Alpacas herd spends cold days outdoors and nights in a beautiful barn built especially for them by a neighbor, Mike Johnson.
To get ready for summer heat, the alpacas are sheared once a year and their fleece turned into yarn that is made into clothing and other items. Some of those items are for sale by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the more unusual items is a dryer ball, a long term substitute for dryer sheets.
The annual shearing also includes a nail trim and teeth grinding. And, it produces an even more humorous look.
“They’ll look like poodles, with no hair,” Randy said.
Once the fleece grows back, the alpacas will be sought after again for special appearances like birthday parties, college campus visits, Nativity scenes, Easter pageants, even Zoom meetings. They can be hired by email or through the Five Star Alpacas Instagram account.
Check out Five Star Alpacas Facebook page to learn even more tidbits about alpacas. They are fascinating, adorable creatures but they do have a reputation for spitting.
“Yes, they will spit,” Kara said, “but they will usually spit at each other.”
Bet You Didn’t Know:
• Alpacas have no upper teeth
• They have soft pads on the bottoms of their feet
• Alpaca babies are called by the Spanish word, “cria”
• Fun fact: Newborns weigh about 12 pounds Fully grown alpacas weigh between 120 and 140 pounds
Facebook: Five Star Alpacas
Products for sale: T-shirts, sweatshirts, alpaca fleece dryer balls
By Loretta Fulton