Michiana's alpaca farming industry is growing, and for one farm it's a family affair
It's difficult to imagine those harsh Michiana winters right now, but a local growing industry may be your answer to keeping warm.
Addison Szakaly may only be 8-years-old, but already she knows that her grandparents' alpacas are valuable.
"Their fur can be used for many thing," she says. "Scarves, mittens, or gloves."
Her grandparents are one of the dozen farms in the Michiana area. Ruth Szakaly believes it's a growing industry.
"I see a lot of wannabes," she jokes. "We have a lot of people come to the farm that want to be alpaca owners."
There's a definite need.
Alpaca fleece is hypo-allergenic and wicked, to keep moisture away from the skin. Szakaly says it's warmer than wool and softer than cashmere.
It's in high demand. She believes there needs to be more alpaca farms in the states to support the manufacturing industry.
Although the product is good, alpacas are environmentally friendly.
Szkalay explains that their waste is good fertilizer for gardens. So good, that they often receive calls asking to buy their alpaca's waste.
The alpacas also eat only the tops of grass, leaving the roots able to grow and replenish.
The Szkalay farm breeds and sells babies in the spring, but focuses on their fur and fleece products in the winter: just in time for those cold winter months.
Right now, they have over 50 lbs of fleece, waiting to be made into yarn.
But for them, it's not just about the profit or finding a sustainable way to keep warm. It's also about passing on something special.
Addison says she wishes she could stay at her grandparents' farm forever, and one day hopes to have her own alpaca farm.