Open house: Meet the alpacas

A family enjoys the Alpacas of the Heartland open house.

A family enjoys the Alpacas of the Heartland open house.

I got to meet a new animal Sept. 27 when I went to the annual open house of Alpacas of the Heartland. This 13-acre ranch near Ft. Calhoun is owned by Mike and Sherri Jacoby. Mike is in my Sarpy Chamber TIPS group with me.

Meeting the alpacas

Meeting the alpacas

In case you don’t know, alpacas are similar to llamas. But they are too small to be pack animals, so they are bred for their fiber and meat. Their wool is very fine and makes really soft sweaters. I know, because I got two of the sweaters at the boutique, along with a pair of lined wool mittens.

The Jacobys own 25 alpacas, and seven of them are crias (babies). They were allowed to graze in the pastures while visitors fed them carrots and green beans.

Getting to know an alpaca is almost the opposite of introducing yourself to a cat or dog. Instead of petting the animal, it’s best to stand still, hold your open hand out and wait for the animal to come and get the carrot. Once they’ve nibbled from your hand, you can try to pet their head or back.

A kiss for the baby

A kiss for the baby

But sometimes, they’ll shy away and turn around if you pet too soon, or try to approach from the front.

It was a beautiful, sunny day for the open house. The Jacobys counted nearly 1,600 visitors for their two-day event.

I’ve posted some photos here. The rest are in my SmugMug gallery.