Is it an alpaca? Or a llama? How do you tell the difference? Llamas are about twice the size of alpacas. Once you’ve seen the two, you know how to tell them apart. Alpacas are common in the South American countries of Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. So, why would passersby see alpacas roaming pastures near Fort Calhoun, Nebraska? They may likely be residents of Alpacas of the Heartland farm.
The story begins in 2007 when Sheri and Mike Jacoby encountered their first alpaca. They liked how soft the fiber felt and it took off from there. Today, the 13-acre working farm about 30 minutes north of Omaha has several Huacaya alpacas they use for fiber and breeding, as well as selling. The couple takes care of the alpacas daily, feeding them, cleaning up after them and anything else that needs to be done. Each alpaca has a name.
The Huacaya alpaca has smooth, soft fiber while the Suri has long soft fiber. Huacaya look cuter than the Suri alpaca.
Though it’s a working farm, the Jacobys invite the public to visit during special events, such as an open house. Sometimes, they will offer paid tours for small groups. A couple of popular events include wine outings and yoga mornings. At the wine events, people can set a blanket or lawn chair in pastures and enjoy wine and maybe some cheese or fruit while alpacas roam about. Who knows, maybe one of the pretty animals will approach you and let you pet it. Yoga classes take part in the pastures, as well.
The Fort Calhoun farm isn’t alone with its alpaca stock. About 1,400 alpacas are raised in Nebraska, according to Alpaca Owners Association Inc. Iowa has about 2,500 alpacas. Nationally, there are more than 186,000 alpacas roaming pastures. If you’ve ever felt alpaca fiber, you can understand why someone would want to raise the docile camelid. There’s even a National Alpacas Farm Day in September. Alpaca farms may host open houses during that time.
While not open to the public daily, when you get a chance to visit the Alpacas of the Heartland farm, we suggest taking advantage of it. You’ll have fun walking around and encountering the sweet animals. Who knows, maybe you’ll get to hug an alpaca.
We found the Alpacas of the Heartland Farm so unique and fun that it’s included in our book, 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die.
For more information on the farm and its alpacas, please visit www.alpacasoftheheartland.com.