A Washington farmer gives new meaning to the phrase “time to slop the hogs.” Instead of hogs, Ray Strom and his wife Joey head out every day to feed kangaroos. And wallabies. And wallaroos. Toss in some alpacas, llamas and emus, and you have yourself a picture of life on the farm – the Outback Kangaroo Farm.
The Arlington couple have been running the tourist attraction for more than two decades. Their animal menagerie includes mini-donkeys, chickens and roosters, goats, a small pony and lemurs.
Outback offers daily tours March through October. Located about an hour north of Seattle, the kangaroo farm is a great place to take a tour. Four tours a day are offered during the season.
Mallory, friends Thomas and Anita and I headed out on a bright Sunday morning. Lisa and I have wanted to visit the farm since Mallory brought her mom and sister out during previous visits. I guess we’ll have to make another trip there since Lisa wasn’t along on this adventure. Oh, darn! Mallory semi-joked that she’s been there so often she could lead a tour. If they let her, Mallory would happily oblige.
You know you’re at the Outback Kangaroo Farm as soon as you see the kangaroo crossing sign near the entrance. Chickens and peacocks may greet you as you exit the car and start walking around. That adds to the fun of the tour.
Tours are organized. The hosts start with a visit to the lemur section. The African critters will jump about and take food from the guide. Lemurs are some of the cutest, but scariest looking animals around. Their looks say “I love you. I want to be friends. But, I’m gonna cut you.”
Our 40-minute tour moved on to the kangaroo area. Here, we were able to get close up and somewhat personal with kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos (small wallabies). You’re given a handful of pellets to feed the kangaroos and friends. Some will approach you willingly. For those that may be shy or don’t want to associate with humans, just leave them alone.
A few of the kangaroos were sunning themselves. For Washington, it was a warm morning. The kangaroos let people pet them on their bellies as they lay in the sun.
The farm is home to an albino kangaroo. It seemed to prefer to be by itself.
As we strolled around the kangaroos, a giant tortoise lumbered nearby. The tortoise let people feel its shell.
Mallory warned me that one of the mini-donkeys could be pushy when it came to taking food from my hand. Man, was she right! The donkey pushed its way around to take the lion’s share of the treats.
As we moved around the farm, peacocks would follow along. They weren’t approaching people, but they let you know they were nearby. I think peacocks are some of the most beautiful creatures on earth. Their colors obviously play a role, but I think they have beautiful faces and presentation.
Alpacas, llamas and more
A Shetland pony wasn’t friendly to anyone but the tour guide. He warned people to stay away from it. One person tried to pet it, and she received a blunt warning from the horse to leave it alone. Some people’s kids. Sigh.
Llamas and alpacas entertained us. Apparently, a llama will spit at you if you make eye contact with it. Fortunately, none of us did.
The emus were interesting birds to watch. They gladly took treats from the tour guide. But, as the group departed for the next step on the tour, Thomas and I stayed back to try to shoot some photographs. As an emu stared at each of us, we clicked our cameras and decided to catch up with the group. That bird had a serious look on its face, so we thought it best to move along before we found out what it had in mind for us.
Feeding the alpacas was fun. They took food from us easily and quickly. Each of them had a set of hair on their head that resembled mops. They were cute animals.
If you hold a long treat stick between your lips, they will take it from you and it appears as if they’re kissing you. Our veteran kangaroo farm tourist took the challenge. Mal placed a stick between her lips and an alpaca “kissed” her. It was a fun trick. Mal loved it. And the alpaca enjoyed its snack.
As we were wrapping up the tour, an alpaca near the guide looked at him, as though surprised he wasn’t getting any more treats. It was cute.
I loved the kangaroo farm tour. But, wait, Mallory told me, we needed to go inside the gift shop and hold the baby kangaroo. In the picture she took of me, it looks like I’m trying to strangle the critter, but I was told to hold it that way. I thought the baby was so cute that I tried to think of a way to smuggle it home. I’m sure Alaska Air wouldn’t have noticed a baby kangaroo on my lap.
The Outback Kangaroo Farm is an outstanding place to visit. They care for the animals with love and appreciation. I recommend visiting it when in the Seattle area.
For more information on the farm, please visit www.outbackkangaroofarm.com.