BUCKLEY, MI – If you’ve ever wanted to see an alpaca up close, the quirky furballs at this northern Michigan farm are ready to make that dream come true.
Cotton Creek Farms, 11885 Jewell Road in Buckley, opened this year due to popular demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s home to over 60 Huacaya Alpacas and a rescued llama named Lucy who have all quickly adapted to life in the limelight.
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The 150-pound farm animals love to greet visitors they know have handfuls of veggie pellets. They hum, pose for photos and accept neck rubbing. Little Miss Independent, aka Indie, even growls – but only at other alpacas trying to move around with her treats.
“She’s people’s favorite because you remember her,” farm co-owner Rebecca Gill said as Indie scolded Grandma Amber while visitor Shawn Eastly, of Sugargrove, Ill. , was distributing treats inside their pen.
The danger of growling? Amber, the oldest alpaca on the farm at 18, might take offense and spit at Indie in retaliation. Anyone caught in the crossfire could end up wiping alpaca saliva off their clothes.
âBy the way, you signed a spit waiver when you bought your ticket,â Gill joked.
Indie and Amber aren’t the only ones rushing visitors for treats. Even the youngest, 7-month-old Sweetie, isn’t afraid to get closer.
âThere is no personal space once you enter the alpaca enclosure,â said Gill.
The Gill family moved from Detroit – leaving business life – and purchased five alpacas in 2019. Their operation quickly grew from there. They breed, shear for fiber, display and sell their alpacas. Each Cotton Creek alpaca has a name and the Gill’s know each one by sight and personality – there is a âno-sellâ list of their favorites.
The popular interactive tours began in April after the family responded to half a dozen tour requests per day in 2020. Jason Gill guides visitors through multiple enclosures offering education as they pet and feed the alpacas. There’s also an on-site gift shop offering a wide range of alpaca fiber products, from yarn to clothing, as well as keepsakes like mugs.
âWe were just trying to make people happy,â said Rebecca Gill. âWe didn’t realize that alpacas make people as happy as they are – we thought it was just us. “
Tours take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The cost is $ 5 per person; children under 6 can visit for free. The farm also welcomes groups for parties and private tours. It is becoming a popular excursion for local school groups, Girl Scout troops and others. Advance reservation is required.
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