Alpacas: ‘You just want to put your arms around them’

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Seven Stars, on the eastern outskirts of Coeur d’Alene at 2885 S. Folsom Ridge Road, is home to a variety of livestock and domestic animals and these alpacas. A few alpacas are at the North Idaho State Fair.

The gentle, furry, long-necked critters in Building 9 aren't camels or llamas, and they're certainly not canines.

They're alpacas, and their names are Orion, Silver Star, Lady Godiva, Capella and Thumbelina.

“They kind of remind you of a poodle-dog," said Sandy Martello, who visited the alpaca barn at the North Idaho State Fair with friend Diane Burnham on Wednesday. "They make you just want to put your arms around them and hug them."

"They look like giant poodles," Burnham said. "They're very interesting animals."

Martello and Burnham smiled ear-to-ear as they watched the alpacas from Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch cool off in a sprinkler spritzing a grassy side pen.

These South American sweeties are at the fair all week with their owners, Sonia and Andy Schumacher, who have been working with alpacas for about 10 years.

Sonia said they love having the animals "for their fiber, their cuteness and they’re so easy on the land. And they’re easy to take care of."

Seven Stars, on the eastern outskirts of Coeur d'Alene at 2885 S. Folsom Ridge Road, is home to a variety of livestock and domestic animals, including goofy goats, mini donkeys, tiny horses, llamas that guard the livestock and, of course, the alpacas.

As much as you'll want to hug them, they'd prefer you don't.

"They’re very peaceful. You can go out and put your chair down and sit with them and they’ll come over and smell you, but they don’t want you hugging them,” Sonia said. "You want to be respectful of them or else you’re going to get spit on."

Don't worry: They'd rather spend their time spitting on each other than on humans, Sonia said.

"They’re like little 8-year-olds, fussing over space and food," she said "It’s quite hilarious."

Alpacas have rich wool and come in more than 20 colors, including deep chocolate brown — like Lady Godiva — and silvery gray, like Silver Star. They are classified as a Huacaya, which produce dense, crimped fiber, and Suri, which have silky, pencil-like locks.

"The goods are wonderful. The hats, the socks, the art factor is higher; it wicks really well," Sonia said. "When you put an alpaca sock on your foot, it’s a happy foot."


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