Farm shines spotlight on rescued llama
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent August 21, 2013 1:00PM
Kim Peters, owner of Calypso Farm, in Lockport, with one of her 10 house dogs, Diggity, 4. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 23, 2013 6:53AM
Kim and John Peters, owners of Calypso Farm in Lockport, intend to make a big deal for the 11th birthday of Angel, their miracle llama.
Everyone is invited.
The working farm, filled with many exotic animals and some pretty awesome native species, will host its biannual “open barn/estate sale” event with Angel as the featured attraction.
Angel not only survived her six-week premature birth, but survived it as a twin — a very rare occurrence in the llama world, Kim Peters said.
In the summer of 2002, Kim Peters found Angel on the floor of an outdoor building near her stillborn twin brother. Angel was already cold, but still breathing.
Peters took her into the family home rather than take a chance that Angel’s mother — who had just given birth for the first time — could properly care for the newborn. Peters warmed her with a hair dryer and maintained her body heat while bottle feeding cow’s milk.
Angel flourished, Peters said, although she wouldn’t let anyone other than Kim and John feed her.
“We had to take her everywhere with us,” Peters said.
After about a month, Angel was turned out to pasture with the other llamas and is now among the 19 llamas (and one alpaca) that help support the farm.
Peters said Calypso Farm sells llama and alpaca wool to spinners who buy it to make textiles. Also, many area farmers purchase the whole llama.
“Llamas are good guard animals because they are so curious,” Peters said. She said when a predator, especially a coyote, approaches a flock, llamas will send out a high-pitched warning cry and aggressively go after the predator.
“(The coyotes) just turn tail and run as fast as they can,” Peters said.
Despite the working farm producing some of the income necessary to keep the animals fed, sheltered and healthy, there is still a need for fundraising, Peters said.
The biannual open house events help pay for food for about 100 animals on the 22-acre farm.
“I never in the world thought I’d pay $11 for a bale of hay,” Peters said.
Last year’s drought drove up the cost of the staple food for the llamas, alpacas, miniature horses, goats, camel, and pot-bellied pig housed on the farm. The Peters also are raising specialty chickens, rabbits and one duck named Lucy.
There’s more than hay to the animals’ diet. Peters said grain and other foods are among several necessities that cost money.
“It adds up to an astronomical amount when you have all these different animals,” Peters said. “They all get something different in their diets.”
A second reason for hosting the event, Peters said, is to allow people who want to visit the farm a chance for an up-close-and-personal look, and the Peterses and their pets are glad to oblige.
Petting and picture-taking are encouraged, Peters said, although feeding the animals is not.
Despite the enormous amount of work involved, Kim and John Peters have been holding the open house for years. It’s a labor of love.
“Every year I think … I’m not going to do it, but then I get so many calls … It’s nice to have one day where we can show the animals off to lots of people,” she said.
Peters said during the rest of the year, Calypso Farm hosts groups such as Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and home-schooled children. The Peterses also take some of the animals to schools and nursing homes.
“That’s always very gratifying. The response from 99 percent of the people is positive,” Peters said. “Llamas especially are very good at going into buildings and seeing the residents. They don’t get shook by things.”
The free family event includes miniature horse rides and tours of the farm as well as participation in Angel’s party. Visitors also can spend time with one of the most popular of the farm animals, Calypso, a very friendly female camel who came to the farm 11 years ago.
Peters said Calypso gives her a kiss every morning before she is fed, loves to roll around in new shavings in her stall and “almost goes into a trance” when she’s groomed.
Not everyone is a camel-kisser, Peters acknowledged, but she’s been “totally obsessed” with animals since she was about 2 years old.
“I still am to this day,” she said. “I just love animals. It’s just so wonderful to be a part of their lives.”
The Calypso Farm Open Barn/Estate Sale will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 17875 S. Gougar Road, Lockport.
Information is at (815) 722-6255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.