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Llamas, alpacas and camels – oh my!

Lockport farm is home to unusual animals and products

Published: Sunday, June 22, 2014 10:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 23, 2014 11:28 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Kim Peters of Calypso Farm in Lockport is greeted by Awesome Calypso Chrome, a two-week-old miniature horse, after letting him our of his pen Wednesday.

LOCKPORT – Kim Peters of Lockport loves animal so much, she once traded a diamond bracelet for an alpaca.

“My husband [John] said, “Whatever makes you happy,” Kim said with a laugh.

Calypso Farm was never intended to be a full-fledged farm with an eclectic mix of animals and a schedule full of tours from youth, senior citizen and homeschool groups, Kim said.

When she and John purchased the first 10 acres nearly 30 years ago, it was simply home for them and their Arabian horses. When the Peters decided to sell the horses, Kim, who’s had horses since she was 16, felt lost.

So they bought back one horse, and then an Arabian mare. Over the years, the Peters have added miniature chicken that lay “teeny tiny eggs,” a pot belly pig named Portia, llamas, alpacas, Nigerian dwarf goats, miniature horses and a camel, as well as dozen more acres to house them all.

As Calypso Farm grew, so did the passersby, until Kim found she was spending more time showing off the place than getting her work done. So she began taking appointments and hosting an annual open house, which attracts approximately 300 people each year, she said.

“It’s nice when it’s not so busy,” Kim said. “I’m able to talk to more people.”

The hit of this year’s open house – held on June 7 and 8 – was an 11-day-old miniature horse named Awesome Calypso Chrome. He showed off by posing for photos, racing around his pen and jumping over his mother whenever she lay down, Kim said. But another animal received quite a bit of notice, too.

“People kept doing selfies with our camel,” Kim said. “She loves attention.”

After watching a television show about camels, Kim decided she wanted one. She researched the care of camels, contacted an Indiana camel farm and brought home Calypso when she was just 11 days old and weighing 90 pounds.

“She sat on my mom’s lap in the van on the way home just like a spoiled little girl,” Kim said. “She’s 12 now and a very big girl.”

Owning a camel is similar to owning a giant, lovable Labrador, Kim said. They're unintentionally destructive (“There’s not a mean bone in her body,” Kim said), but very sweet, especially when begging for kisses. Calypso is very social and loves entertaining visitors.

“When they walk away, she’ll cry and call out to them to come back,” Kim said.

One day, Kim came home to find that Calypso had ripped off the 10-foot by 8-foot barn door and was out in the yard lying on it.

“That’s what camels do when they like something,” Kim said. “They lie on it.”

Portia, who lives in her own miniature log cabin, was actually a rescue pig, Kim said. Some kids had bought her without their parents’ permission and hid her in the basement, Kim added. Of course, the parents eventually found her.

“What was bad about it was that pigs are generally shy by nature,” Kim said. “They need to be socialized by having a lot of exposure to people doing different things.”

When Portia was little, she lived in the house with the Peters. When John would watch television, Portia would jump up on the couch next to him, Kim said. However, the floor was too slippery for her feet to be safe, so Portia eventually went to her own barn. Calypso Farm is full of little barns, Kim said.

“She loves to lie out in the sun,” Kim said.

Each spring, according to the Calypso Farm website atwww.calypsollamas.com, the Peters shear their alpacas and llamas. They also sell raw fiber (all colors available), hand-spun yarn (natural, hand-dyed or hand-painted) and combine yarn with other fibers.

The Peters also sell alpacas and llamas, as well as the free range eggs from their miniature chickens, the website said. Egg colors include pink, green, cream, tan, dark brown and turquoise.

If making the feeding and "cleanup up poop" rounds aren’t enough work for Kim, there’s always a ground squirrel or two that needs rescuing from the pond.

“Seems like every year, there’s a few of the Kamikaze guys,” Kim said. “They try to get a drink and fall in. That’s just life on a farm, I guess.”

For more information, call 815-722-6255 or visit www.calypsollamas.com

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