A llama farm south of Cedar Rapids is finding a booming niche market in offering what the proprietor calls “llama experiences” that include Llama Hikes, Llama Yoga and even online appearances with Llama-Zooms.
Kahle Boutte and her husband, Andy, run Prairie Patch Farm near Shueyville. She explains what’s entailed with one of their more popular offerings — the Llama-Gram. “We load them in the back of my minivan so we can get access to pretty much anywhere,” Boutte says. “We deliver llamas for any occasion, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, cheer-ups. We deliver llamas for 15 minutes dressed in attire of the bookee’s choice to bring smiles. The llamas can even ride in elevators.”
Llama hikes take place on the farm’s 50-acre private wildlife refuge and nature preserve which includes seven tall-grass prairies. People love taking snuggly selfies with the llamas, Boutte says, because they’re such cheerful, friendly animals — in addition to their being exceptionally photogenic.
“We develop bonds with them, just like we do our pets, and having that trusting relationship and treating them well, really, you get nice, docile animals who are just happy-go-lucky and very willing to go and bring smiles,” Boutte says. “I really do believe they know the joy they bring as they go happily on all of these llamagrams and visits.” Now that it’s fall, plans are underway for a special October event.
“Llamaween this year will be the Llama of Oz theme, so you can come see llamas dressed up as Wizard of Oz characters,” Boutte says. “It’s a meet and greet with llamas in costumes along with a spooky trail walk on one of our trails that we decorate and make a little haunted family-friendly trail walk.” And once we get into the year-end holidays, there are plans for a Llama Santa experience.
The farm has a herd of nine llamas and one alpaca. What’s the difference? “They’re cousins, part of the camel family, but alpacas tend to be much smaller as they were reserved mostly for meat and hair to spin into yarn,” Boutte says. “Llamas were bred to be bigger, the better, as pack and working animals.”
As for the Llama-Grams, Boutte likes to keep those within about 40 miles of the farm, as she’s hauling the wooly 300- to 400-pound critters in her minivan.