Prairie Patch Farm llamas become destination through TikTok videos

Kahle Atherton-Boutte looks on as guests cross a creek during a llama hike at Prairie Patch Farm in Johnson County, Iowa on Sunday, October 1, 2023. The farm offers group hikes with Llamas on the property’s 49-acre wildlife preserve.  (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Since childhood, there are three issues which have introduced Kahle Atherton-Boutte pleasure in life: her late uncle’s acreage close to Shueyville, her sense of creativity and llamas.

For many of her life, these three issues had been separate — till Prairie Patch Farm.

After shopping for her uncle’s land and getting two llamas as pets in early 2019, the brand new mom and pretty new Iowa resident was at a crossroads in life. She knew she needed to share with the general public the land close to Shueyville that she had made so many treasured reminiscences on — holding cats on the porch, rowing a ship within the pond, foraging for mushrooms or watching pheasants fly via the prairie as she rode ATVs.

Greater than 10 years after her uncle Steve Atherton died in 2008, the query for the previous music therapist was how.

Should you go

From yoga and hikes to Llama-grams and retreats, there’s a lot to do with the herd at Prairie Patch Farm. For more information, go to prairiepatchfarm.com.

Need to hike with the llamas? You’ll must e-book months prematurely, as hikes promote out rapidly after opening.

“I believe there was an actual drive in me … to maintain his title alive, to maintain saying his title, to maintain remembering all of the superb work he did in conservation for the state of Iowa,” Atherton-Boutte stated. “I needed to memorialize him in a manner that was private for us.”

After itemizing the wildlife protect’s cottage on Airbnb and llama hikes on Airbnb Experiences in late 2019, her need to assist others was rebirthed via the herd of what’s grown to 10 llamas and one alpaca — plus a handful of goats and cats on the facet.

Willow White, age 10, of Potosi Wisc. walks Ollie the llama during a llama hike at Prairie Patch Farm in Johnson County, Iowa on Sunday, October 1, 2023. The farm offers group hikes with llamas on the property’s more 49-acre wildlife preserve.  (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Then got here some enterprise challenges in her first 12 months — most prominently, the disruptions of COVID-19. Out of doors actions turned out to be a blessing in disguise through the darkish early days of social distancing. However after she bought on TikTok in 2021, she tapped into potential that has taken the farm to new heights.

Harnessing a brand new energy

Now with 119,000 followers and thousands and thousands of hits, the enterprise has discovered new life because of a blue tutu and a blonde clip-on hair braid. After some informal enjoyable posting movies of llamas dressed for Halloween and Christmas, she branched out together with her content material.

Earl the llama dressed up as Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” in a fast video set to Idina Menzel’s track “Let it Go” in December 2021.

@prairiepatchfarm Let it go, llama model. #frozen#llama#llamatok#llamasoftiktok#fyp#cuteanimals#therapyllama#ilovellamas♬ Let It Go – From “Frozen”/Soundtrack Model – Idina Menzel

As Atherton-Boutte bought extra acquainted with the ability of TikTok, she discovered that the viral video wasn’t a one-off within the algorithm. Because the costumes turned extra elaborate, so did the llamas’ relationships with viewers throughout the nation racking up thousands and thousands of views.

She didn’t use TikTok as a enterprise device — simply pure, feel-good content material in a world of pervasive gloom and doom. Like her former job in music remedy working with prisoners, it was merely a manner for her to convey pleasure to a darkish world.

Regardless of her aversion to new social media, the 39-year-old was pushed to interject happiness.

Willow White, age 10, of Potosi Wisc. walks Ollie the llama during a llama hike at Prairie Patch Farm in Johnson County, Iowa on Sunday, October 1, 2023. The farm offers group hikes with Llamas on the property’s 49-acre wildlife preserve.  (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

“If one thing I can do on a digital app is making a distinction for individuals who can’t bodily be right here amongst these therapeutic animals, then after all I’m going to do it,” Atherton-Boutte stated. “I really feel a accountability to place extra good on the planet.”

Changing into a vacation spot

Earlier than lengthy, Prairie Patch Farm went from an area attraction for Iowans to a bona fide vacation spot for viewers, drawing guests from a number of states away. The farm has been featured in Individuals journal, journey blogs, specialty publications and Entry Hollywood with Mario Lopez.

Do you know?

There’s extra to llamas than lengthy necks and spitting. Listed here are some enjoyable details in regards to the herd at Prairie Patch Farm:

– Associated to the camel, they’ve two toes with toenails on every foot, not hooves.

– Their commonest sound is a hum.

– They don’t spit on people, however usually spit on one another once they have conflicts over meals, private house or dominance.

– They share a communal rest room instinctively with their herd.

– They journey at the back of a minivan, not a trailer.

– Their fiber is hypoallergenic.

Atherton-Boutte stated it’s reached numerous audiences who’ve instructed her how the sunshine of some foolish movies have helped them in darkish instances. Now the enjoyment she put out into the world has boomeranged with a return on funding.

Guests come for the magical, empathic aura of the llamas, who guests say they will really feel peer of their souls. Their handler credit that to the animal’s storied growth over 1000’s of years, serving to South People as companions and pack animals that supplied milk and fiber for survival.

Rylin Sahr, age 11, of Potosi Wisc. leads Albie the llama during a llama hike at Prairie Patch Farm in Johnson County, Iowa on Sunday, October 1, 2023. The farm offers group hikes with Llamas on the property’s 49-acre wildlife preserve.  (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Llama liaisons

Now, they’re a key to offering an identical glimpse into the previous: Iowa’s prairie historical past earlier than large-scale agriculture.

With trails meandering via oak bushes and native prairie grass on 49 acres of rolling hills, Prairie Patch Farm appears to be like the way in which Iowa did earlier than it was cleared en mass for corn and soybean farming. The previous farmland, restored by Steve Atherton over about 20 years, displays the fervour for conservation its former proprietor championed all through his life with the Division of Pure Assets and his tenure as a professor at Kirkwood Group School.

Steve Atherton, former owner of the land Prairie Patch Farm sits on today near Shueyville, Iowa, was an avid conservationist. After his death in 2008, the nearby Atherton Wetlands in Solon was named in his honor. (Kahle Atherton-Boutte)

Right this moment, the bushes and vegetation he planted have taken on new maturity because the land comes into its personal with newfound goal — sparking the identical ardour for ecology and conservation that he handed on to his niece. Its largest inhabitants, a herd of lengthy furry necks, are merely a liaison to assist them uncover the setting of a bygone period.

“However individuals are attending to expertise going out into what Iowa used to seem like earlier than mass agriculture, with a llama beside them,” Atherton-Boutte stated. “It brings a special layer of magic and a accountability.”

Kahle Atherton-Boutte prepares llamas for a hike at Prairie Patch Farm in Johnson County, Iowa on Sunday, October 1, 2023. Atherton-Boutte offers group hikes with llamas on her property’s 49-acre wildlife preserve.  (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

For guests, it’s a reminder to acknowledge what people do to the land and the way they will protect it for the subsequent era. For the land’s proprietor, Prairie Patch Farm is new chapter with a welcome change of tempo.

“I went from the music girl to the llama girl, and I completely think about {that a} promotion,” she stated.

Feedback: (319) 398-8340; [email protected]

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