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Llama farmers get national attention

By Stephen Williams
Friday, July 5, 2013

The following is an excerpt from a 2007 story

Drive into the yard of Dakota Ridge Farm, and a herd of longnecked woolly llamas peer alertly from fences and barns at your every move. Get close enough, and they'll kiss you.

From a humble single-llama beginning 16 years ago, Dakota Ridge has just kept adding more of the sociable animals.

Today, its 42 acres are home to about 60 llamas, from the babies called crias to the namesake Dakota, now an arthritic 16 years old. About 30 of the llamas are owned by others, and boarded there.

'They're like potato chips. You've got to have another one,' said Katrina Capasso , who runs the East High Street farm with her husband, Gary.

Llamas, a pack animal native to the Peruvian Andes that is related to the camel, appeal to her.

The Capassos and their llamas were featured on Good Morning America today. The video is available below. A story about the appearance will be in the Saturday issue of the Daily Gazette.

'I like how they look, how regal they are,' Capasso said. ' They're beautiful and very calm. If you've had a stressful day, you can go out and be with them and they calm you right down.'

Dakota Ridge is named for the ridge it sits on overlooking the Mourningkill and for Dakota, the little llama who was a wedding gift from husband to wife, and who started it all.

It is one of the last working farms in Malta, which once had a large farming community but has seen much of its farmland converted into housing in recent decades.

Dakota Ridge offers llamas for sale, stud service, boarding, leasing, grooming and training, and the Capassos frequently attend regional and national shows as far away as Nebraska, as well as state and county fairs. They have llama hiking trails in the woods behind the farm.

Llama farming is a niche within state agriculture, with only 3,217 statewide at the time of the 2002 agricultural census.

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