New Year's Eve: Alpaca party 

Magnolia Blossom Ranch in Newcastle will ring in the new year with Wine, Carrots & Alpacas.

Magnolia Blossom Ranch will welcome guests for a New Year’s Eve afternoon of Wine, Carrots & Alpacas. - ALEXA ACE
  • Alexa Ace
  • Magnolia Blossom Ranch will welcome guests for a New Year’s Eve afternoon of Wine, Carrots & Alpacas.

In the wide open fields near Newcastle, there is a ranch where dozens of alpacas roam under the watchful eyes of loping guard dogs, and chickens and ducks wander around their pen. At Magnolia Blossom Ranch, 2901 NW 16th St., in Newcastle, guests will soon celebrate the last day of the year with this friendly menagerie.

The ranch is hosting its first New Year’s Eve event called Wine, Carrots & Alpacas starting at noon. Guests are welcome to relax in the pasture among the herd, sipping local wine while feeding the alpacas carrots. Guests will be able to buy wine by the bottle or glass. La Luna Taco Taxi will provide food.

The event is limited to 150 guests age 21 and over, and reservations are required. Alpaca treats are provided. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs for seating.

The event is a joint effort between two local ranches, Magnolia Blossom Ranch in Newcastle and Answered Prayers Alpaca Ranch in Tuttle. Terri and Kerry Bates own Magnolia, while Gail Stymerski and her brother, Al Boyce, own Answered Prayers. They all cooperate and share responsibilities for raising the animals and maintaining their businesses.

Terri Bates first learned about alpacas (which are not to be confused with their larger relative, the llama) from her veterinarian 12 years ago. After retiring from her position as an investment consultant, she and her husband decided to start raising a herd of their own. They began with a few alpacas in 2013.

Stymerski has been ranching since 2011. She and Terri Bates met while attending trade shows with alpaca-related products. They partnered in 2017. Now the two ranches have a combined 41 animals, and they operate a store at Magnolia Blossom Ranch that carries a wide variety of alpaca clothing, raw and spun fleece, rugs, blankets, stuffed animals and handmade goods, including felted jewelry, from Stymerski.

Terri Bates and Stymerski continue to sell at trade shows and allow customers to visit the ranch for private shopping appointments. The store is open during events like the wine tasting, as well.

Terri Bates and the group also helped to start a nonprofit, Alpacas of Oklahoma, to promote the state’s alpaca industry and educate the public on the animal. The organization holds an alpaca livestock show called Alpaca Blastoff each November. They estimated that 260 animals competed in 2018.

Whenever they’re asked about alpacas, the ranchers’ love for the animals is evident.

“They’re serene,” Terri Bates said. “They’re just so relaxing to be around.”

“They’re amazing,” Stymerski added. “They’re just totally amazing animals.”

“And then, of course, their fiber is extremely soft and luxurious,” Terri Bates said. “You just won’t find anything like it.”

Fleece peace

Kerry Bates has a theory about alpaca fleece’s therapeutic properties, which he believes is related to the animals’ natural positively charged energy, also in their fleece.

“My hypothesis is why everybody falls in love with the animal and relaxes, and why it’s ‘fiber of the gods,’ and everything else,” Kerry Bates said, “is due to the fact that they have this polarity field to them. And it transfers to everybody.”

He admitted there is not much supporting research for his hypothesis at the moment, but he and Terri Bates said they have seen that many visitors to the ranch respond to the alpacas’ positive energy.

“Plus they have [their] own personalities,” Kerry Bates said of the alpacas. “They’ve got eyelashes. They have facial expressions. They’ve got big, large eyes. People just love that. And they just melt.”

Terri Bates said she and a couple of alpacas recently made a visit to a local assisted living facility where the residents were enlivened when they were able to pet and interact with the animals.

They consider their ranch events important educational and social opportunities, a chance to share the animals on a larger scale.

“We thought, ‘Why not make it more of a social event where people can really get in here and socialize with each other among the alpacas?’” Terri Bates said.

Their first wine tasting event was limited to 50 people and sold out quickly. They said the alpacas were perfectly behaved — especially since their new visitors gave them delicious treats.

“They’ll do anything for a carrot,” Stymerski said.

While both llamas and alpacas have a tendency to spit at each other or people, Terri Bates said it’s usually only when provoked or when fighting over food. So there is a slight risk of spit for guests who are feeding the animals.

“If you get in the line of fire, it sucks to be you,” she said.

However, each event at Magnolia Blossom Ranch includes a spitting contest. Any guest who happens to get spit on should show Terri Bates.

“Whoever has the best spit experience wins a $40 gift from the store,” she said.

The prizes are soft, velvety scarves.

In addition to wine tastings, the ranch’s events include Wine and Palette art classes, during which guests spend time painting portraits of alpacas while sitting with the herd. Alpaca yoga is another popular event they have just started for smaller groups. Children are welcome at the Wine and Palette and yoga events. They also participated in Alpaca Owners Association National Alpaca Farm Days, opening the ranch to the public in September.

Terri Bates said the New Year’s Eve event is perfect for those who don’t want to go out late to celebrate the last day of the year, and it also provides an adult family outing.

At this event and others, guests who are interested can also view the ranch’s nearby fiber mill, where the fleece is sheared and cleaned. Terri Bates explained that alpaca fibers have hollow cores, which is what makes their fleece exceptionally lightweight, soft and warm.

Near the fleecing room and barn is a site in the early stages of construction, where they plan to build an enclosed deck so they can someday hold events like Wine, Carrots & Alpacas or private parties even in inclement weather.

Terri Bates said the ranch is always in need of volunteers, and those who are interested in working with the animals should contact her. Their main goal is always to help the public learn about the alpacas and the products the animals produce.

“We do love seeing the look on people’s faces when they interact with them,” Terri Bates said. “It just makes our day.”

“We love people, we love alpacas, and we want to get them both together,” Kerry Bates said. “And that’s pretty much it.”

Visit magnoliablossomranch.com.

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