Rotary Hears from Alpaca Farmer

Posted By Josh Nelson

We were thankful to get an interesting presentation about alpacas from Karl Heinrich last week. Pictured (L-R): Mark Kimbell, Stacie Reese, Karl Heinrich, and club president Bill Sorrells. Photo by Kenzie Hammock. (Good job of including a chair in the pic, Kenzie).

The Gallatin Rotary Club heard a very interesting presentation last week from Karl Heinrich.

He and his wife, Jan, are the owners of Long Hollow Suri Alpacas.

“Eighteen years ago on Long Hollow Pike, where I lived…after traveling around (for work)…I used to come home to our one acre lawn…and I’d get out there on the lawn mower and make straight lines,” he said. “My wife said, ‘it’s such a waste of time’ and I shouldn’t have to do that – that I should relax.

“She didn’t know that I liked making those straight lines – it was very calming – there was nothing to think about; just go straight.”

But, they thought about something that could mow his yard for him. A living Roomba, if you will.

Most people would get a horse or a cow; they got an alpaca.

Why an alpaca?

“They’re just so freaking cool-looking,” Heinrich said. “They’re so unusual.”

Karl and his wife loved it so much they moved to Wallace Road, which is just a few miles north of Gallatin off of Dobbins Pike to expand.

“Today, we have a 62-acre farm for them to chew on,” he said. “We have about 120 alpacas.”

They process the alpaca fleece into yarn and turn it into clothes (which have no seams), and they do it from other alpaca owners from across the country.

“We employ about 20 people,” Heinrich said.

Alpaca fleece, especially the Suri breed the Heinrich’s have, are one of the finest in the world – arguably better than cashmere.

During his presentation, Heinrich also talked about the characteristics of the alpaca, such as their physical features and personality, including the difference between alpacas and llamas.

You can hear Mr. Heinrich’s entire presentation at the link below.

It is really, really fascinating.

Give it a listen.

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