COVINGTON, Ind. —
To a casual visitor, the eight alpacas — and one newborn — at Carli McMahan’s home might all look alike with their fuzzy heads, slender necks and long legs.
But the teenager knows them apart.
“They all have different temperaments and personalities,” she said. “It’s interesting to see how they mix.”
Sometimes, she just grabs a book and reads nearby, while an alpaca sniffs her hair. Or she and other family members will simply watch them as they graze or interact in their corral. The animals communicate with various sounds.
At times, the alpha male will attack another male, and the two will rear up, spit at each other (nasty stuff, usually made up of regurgitated food), and wrestle for dominance.
“They’re fun to watch,” her father, Chad McMahan said.
The family, which also includes mom, Nicole, and brother, Alexander, 14, lives near Covington, Ind.
Taking care of the four females, four males and a newborn male is preparing Carli for her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She graduated in January from Seeger High School and finished a semester at Danville Area Community College. She’ll continue at DACC in the fall, and later transfer to Purdue or the University of Illinois.
“I’ve always loved animals,” said Carli, who’s almost 18.
She’s had a lot of practice, having grown up around animals, including dogs, ducks, rabbits, goats and chickens. She used to spend summers on her grandparents’ horse ranch near Williamsport, Ind.
She even learned how to raise newborn Labrador puppies after the mother died.
Carli decided to raise alpacas in order to earn an FFA state degree through the Supervised Agricultural Experience (which she didn’t finish). Last summer, she saved the money she earned detasseling corn, and bought six in August. She bought two more in March.