THERESA Children of all ages had their chance to get up close and personal with a herd of alpaca Saturday as a part of a weekend open house at Home Again Farms.
Among the dozens of people who made their way to the farm were Rees and Gavin Lynch, 7 and 5 years old, respectively, who got to go inside the alpaca pen for the very first time.
Among their discoveries during their short time with the animals was that the animals werent always willing to slow down to be petted by their new human friends.
I didnt even get to touch one, Gavin said. His older sister Rees, 7, said she was able to pet one of the more than 20 during their brief time inside.
It was also a learning experience for the pairs grandfather Weldon G. Lynch, who said Saturdays visit was the closest he had ever come to an alpaca.
Its funny, Mr. Lynch said. Their hair, its pretty soft.
He admitted his expectations for the animals behavior were a little off before going into the pen.
I always thought they were like llamas, and theyd spit at you, Mr. Lynch said. Instead, he found them much more friendly.
The animal, which falls in the camelid family, is similar to the llama and camel.
Theyre very curious, said Daryl K. Marsh, who runs the farm with his wife Gail A. They want to see whats going on.
The Marshes learned about alpaca farming while living in New Jersey and returned to Theresa, their hometown, about eight years ago. Since then, he said hes still finding out new things about his herd.
Youre learning all the time, he said.
He said the alpaca are a hit when he takes them to local schools, and are an important tool for local veterinarians who dont get much experience with the animal.
The event is also a showcase for artists who work with the animals fiber.
One of the artists, Kenneth J. Arie, of Philadelphia, was making a bible bag using a combination of the fiber, hemp and jute. A few hundred yards away, he mixed a pot his wife set up featuring the fiber mixed with ragweed, giving it a yellow color.
He said he liked mixing in the high-quality fiber, and working with classic looms to make products with it.
Theyre the most fun to me, he said.
The weekend open house is a part of National Alpaca Farm Days, set up by the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, Inc.
The last day of the open house weekend will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Admission is free, but the farm is collecting money and canned good donations for local charities.
Video from the open house can be found at http://wdt.me/dPPPAg.