Alpacas roam this southern Illinois-made ranch

You can't help but relax

This Heartland Weekend we are traveling to a slice of heaven in Makanda, Illinois.

The rural Jackson County town is home to the beautiful Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch.

A mother-daughter team opened the ranch as a way to share their passion for alpacas with others.

Judy Hoepker and Morgan Stevenson open the ranch for yoga with the alpacas, painting classes, special opportunities to feed the alpacas and more.

“I mean who doesn’t get happy when they see an alpaca?” Judy asked.

The beginnings:

Judy says the alpaca ranch started with her daughter, Morgan.

She learned how to crochet several years ago, but she grew tired of scratchy store-bought yarn.

After a quick search, she learned alpacas were raised to be fiber royalty.

While similar to sheep’s-wool, alpaca fiber is¬†warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic.

The only issue is Morgan couldn’t find any locally produced alpaca yarn.

Her solution: turn her mother’s farmland into an alpaca ranch and spin the fiber herself.

In 2011, Morgan and Judy bought their first alpacas.

Now, the spinning never stops.

“We want to share what we’ve learned and what we’re doing,” Morgan said. “We like to see the joy that the alpacas bring other people.”

Yoga and more

Yes, Rolling Oak opens their farm for yoga classes with the alpacas!

Morgan took a class and was hooked.

“Having the alpacas wander around while I’m trying to do it and like hand feeding them you know while I’m holding downward facing dog is so much fun,” Morgan said.

But the fun doesn’t stop there.

They offer painting classes where you can sit in the pasture, enjoy the serenity and create something beautiful.

On occasion, they also open their gates for tours, and themed gatherings.

Meet the alpacas, learn what it takes to raise these animals and shop the store during National Alpaca Days. The fun is scheduled for Sept. 28 & 29, 2019.

Fiber Royalty

Morgan says besides interacting with the alpacas, her favorite thing to do is using alpaca fiber to create works of art.

“Creating something with an animal that’s out in the pasture and taking that fiber from them and being able to make something and see that happen before my eyes, it’s just a sense of accomplishment and it’s just really fun,” Morgan said.

You can pick up all sorts of alpaca fiber infused products at Rolling Oak, including toys, socks, bags, yarn and more.

Follow Rolling Oak online HERE for shop hours and upcoming events.