Local alpaca owners invite guests to Heavenly Acres
It was just three years ago that Don and Laura Bruce started Heavenly Acres Alpacas on a 10-acre parcel of land west of Curtiss, but the couple already knows quite a lot about their long-necked pets.
This past Saturday, they shared some of that knowledge with guests as part of a open house event in celebration of National Alpaca Farmers Day.
The five alpacas who reside at Heavenly Acres — Davina, Kaia, Robin, Summer and Sir Vinny — enjoyed some time in the spotlight Saturday while the Bruces answered questions about how they became owners of animals who many mistake for llamas (they are relatives).
Laura was the first to really fall in love with the animals — “just because they’re so adorable,” she says. It didn’t long for her to convince her husband, the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Abbotsford and St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Green Grove, to become a coowner with her. Still, Bruce says his wife does most of the alpaca-related work.
“I’ve got my own flock to take care of,” the pastor says with a laugh.
Alpacas make “very good comfort animals,” he said, noting that he and Laura would like to train one or more of their animals so they can visit patients in nursing homes.
The Bruces said alpacas are also relatively low-maintenance animals. As grazing animals, they’ll spend the warmer months of the year mostly feeding themselves, and when the winter comes, it take about four days for the five of them to go through a bale of hay.
Their curly coats are sheared off once a year in the spring, and the roughly 40 pounds of fiber is used to make all sorts of clothing, from hats to shirts. Even their waste can be put to good use as fertilizer — either as “beans” in solid form or as a special type of “tea.”
Don says they’re also very entertaining just to sit and watch, especially the younger ones like Sir Vinny, who will prance around the field and play with his older brother, Summer.
“They each have personality all their own,” he says with a smile.