By ANDREA MCCANN
LOGANSPORT, Ind. — The Cass County 4-H Llamas & Alpacas project members broke in a new home at the fairgrounds in Logansport this year, thanks to some hard work by the project members and community support.
The project in Cass County has grown from four members in 2006 to 14 in 2013, according to project leaders Mollie and Jim Miller.
“We shared a barn with sheep and goats, and their projects are both growing,” Mollie Miller said. “We were elbow-to-elbow.”
So, they went to the fair board and asked if they could build their own barn. Board members decided if the llama project members could raise the money for the structure, the board would provide the labor.
“In two years, we raised $13,000,” Miller explained.
She said they wrote letters seeking donations; sold hot chocolate, coffee and donuts during the 4-H cattle weigh-in; entered parades for award money; cleaned tables at Applebee’s; and unloaded recycling for the Solid Waste District to earn money. In addition, they were awarded a $3,650 grant by the Cass County Community Foundation.
“The board was also gracious enough to let us sell one item at the fair,” Miller added. “We sold shawls and rugs out of llama and alpaca wool and put that money toward it.”
The result is a 48-by-60-foot open pole barn the Cass County llama project members can now call home. Cattle panels form pens to secure the animals.
“We were able to use it at this year’s fair,” Miller said, adding the board worked hard to get the barn built for this year’s 4-H fair. She said poles were set and rafters up last fall, but inclement weather delayed roofing until spring.
The barn still needs some incidentals, she said, and there’s still some yarn and washed fleece available in natural colors. Anyone wishing to purchase some can call the Millers at 574-601-6492.
According to Miller, the Cass County Llamas & Alpacas project had an unusual beginning. It all started, she said, when a young man named Jacob Fisher was a 4-Her. He had a hand injury for which his doctor told him milking goats would be good physical therapy.
He began milking goats at the Millers’ farm and became interested in their guard llama. Fisher trained the llama to lead and do all the things necessary to become a show animal. Because Cass County didn’t have a llama project, he was allowed to show in neighboring White County.
Fisher later approached the Cass County Fair Board about adding the llama project, and they told him there needed to be at least four interested 4-H members. And that’s all she wrote; Fisher created the interest, and the project took off.
Miller said about half the project members own their animals – the others lease their animals. The 4-Hers involved in the project also visit nursing homes, schools, Bible schools and mini 4-H day camps to educate people about llamas, alpacas and their care.