Poplar Grove alpaca farm and fiber mill is animal safe haven

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 7:56 AM CDT
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POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (WIFR) - County fair season is in full swing, and members of one Poplar Grove family are making the rounds. However, they aren’t taking cows or pigs to fairs - they’re showing alpacas.

When you drive by Alpaca Pines Farm and Fiber Mill, which is owned by Vicki Donley and her family, you may notice a few different animals. The operation is much larger than what initially meets the eye. The Donleys started with two alpacas in 2011. They have 34 today, along with a llama and four sheep.

“I really wanted a horse, but my husband said, ‘Hey, how about those alpacas?’ We adopted those two alpacas, and that started the journey, “ Vicki explained. “I fell in love with the animal and their temperament.”

A major part of the Donley’s farm is a full fiber mill, where they process alpaca fiber from around the country. Farmers send in their bags of it, and Vicki spins it into gold, more or less. She sends back yarn and other products.

“Having alpacas leads to the fiber arts world, so knitting, crocheting, spinning and felting. Their fiber is simply amazing,” said Vicki. Of her decision to open up a full fiber mill, she says that wasn’t the intention when they first adopted those two original alpacas.

“That was definitely a byproduct of it. I learned to knit in girl scouts when I was young, but I never kept up with it.”

The Donley’s 13-year-old son Christopher helps on the farm. He’s the junior president of his 4H group, aptly named “Fiber Frenzy.” I asked him how people react when they find out how many animals are in his backyard. He laughed, “People are like holy cow that’s a lot of alpacas! More than I could take care of. You just need time. It’s really time consuming.”

That’s what the Donleys do every day for their alpacas and any other animals who make their way to Alpaca Pines.

“I would say our farm is kind of like a safe haven for animals. I am ecstatic with the way things turned out. I never imagined to grow into what it has become.”

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