It’s not hard to find a cattle ranch in Nebraska, but alpaca ranches or farms are significantly rarer. Alpacas of the Heartland in Fort Calhoun (Washington County) raises a herd of Huacaya alpacas that are sure to steal your heart.
Fort Calhoun sits in the verdant loess hills of the Missouri River Valley.
Sheri and Mike Jacoby have operated their 13-acre alpaca ranch on this gorgeous land for several years. They breed and show the alpacas and make products from their fleece.
Although many people mistake these cuties for llamas, the alpaca is actually a domesticated breed of South American camel.
Their graceful frames, poofy fur, big eyes, and expressive faces let them look majestic and goofy all at once.
Just look at this face! Don't you want to go give this furry sweetheart a big hug?
The Jacobys first became interested in alpacas in 2007 - not surprisingly, it was after they met one in person.
After feeling the soft fibers and experiencing the alpaca's sweet and gentle disposition, they immediately began researching how to start their own alpaca farm.
Just four months later, they bought their very first alpaca.
The couple's professional backgrounds in hospital pharmacy and in construction have come in handy. They designed and built the facilities and now care for a herd of around 30.
With advance reservations and a small per-person fee, you can come see the adorable critters in person.
The busy owners both work full-time jobs in addition to tending to the herd and selling items in the farm boutique, so any tours have to work around their other responsibilities. As they can only accommodate a certain number of visitors on each tour, reservations are a necessity.
The ranch also hosts open house days where everyone can come meet the alpacas - and if you're lucky, you'll get to split a carrot with one, Lady and the Tramp-style.
The adorable animals are so gentle that the whole family can get in on the alpaca love.
Keep up with special events and open house dates on the
Alpacas of the Heartland Facebook page.
Even if Fort Calhoun is a bit of a drive for you, seeing these sweet furry faces is totally worth it.
What's that? You need to see more alpaca cuteness before you're convinced you should visit? Don't mind if we do!
This guy, fresh from a shearing, looks like he stepped right out of the '80s with leg warmers and a big perm.
Don't worry - they can still see where they're going, even when it looks like their fur is totally covering their eyes.
That is one handsome face right there.
This cria, or baby alpaca (also adorably known as an alpaclette), looks nice and cozy in her little jacket.
One interesting fact about alpacas is that they can be housebroken like dogs. Isn't it funny to imagine these guys as great big dogs?
Just look at the smile on the alpaca behind the cria - that's one happy mama!
In addition to touring the ranch and getting to know the alpacas, you can also visit Sheri's Alpaca Boutique. There you'll find products made from the ranch's very own alpacas, including socks, scarves, yarn, and lots more.
For another fun, unusual farm – one where you can actually spend the night! – read our previous article about
Willow Valley Farms.