She loves her sweet Alpacas
Anderson enjoys raising alpacas
Jessica Anderson did not grow up on a farm. She was a ‘city girl’ who lived with her family in Bricelyn.
But, now she owns her own farmstead and even has a variety of ‘livestock’ on her farm.
She has 16 alpacas, 22 laying hens and one rooster, three dogs and four cats on the farm, located just east of Brush Creek and just a quarter mile off Highway 16.
“I call my business Frosty Acres Alpacas,” Anderson says. “I sell the alpaca fiber, and I also knit mittens and caps and sell those, too.”
Not too bad for a person who not long ago had never even heard of alpacas.
Anderson graduated from United South Central in 1995. She then went off to nursing school.
“In 2002 I went to Alaska as a travel nurse for the summer,” she explains. “In 2003 I decided to move to Alaska and was a full time nurse there.”
It was in 2006 in Alaska that a friend of Anderson’s named Julie started raising alpacas in Alaska. And Anderson fell in love with the animals.
“My friend Julie moved to Missouri to raise her alpacas,” Anderson relates. “One reason was having to import hay, and that was ridiculously expensive.”
Over dinner before her friend left, Anderson decided to buy a couple of alpacas. She named them Vanilla Cappuccino and Snow White.
The two alpacas lived at her friend Julie’s farm in Missouri for two years. Anderson says she was working two jobs to help pay for the alpacas. But then her friend Julie decided to get out of the business, and Anderson purchased a couple more alpacas.
It was 2010.
“I owned a condo in Alaska, so I had to decide what to do,” Anderson says. “I decided I needed to come home to Minnesota so I could have my alpacas on my own farm.”
She called her father and asked him if she and her alpacas could come and live with him on his farmstead south of Frost, and her father agreed to set up some pens for the alpacas.
A month later Anderson’s herd, now much larger than just two animals, was transported to Frost. Some had been in Colorado, some in Lester Prairie, Minnesota.
“They actually moved to Minnesota before I did,” Anderson says. “They came in July, and I came in August – I drove here from Alaska after I rented out my condo, which I finally got sold in 2013.”
Two years ago she found her current farm home was for sale and it worked out that she could buy it. The purchase was final in June of 2019. In July, she had the fencing all ready and moved the herd of 16 animals from Frost to their new home.
Anderson has sold some animals over the years and some have died, including one of her original ones, Show White. But she has new baby alpacas born each year, also.
“I name everyone of them,” she says. “Vanilla Cappuccino is still with me, and Toffee is the oldest male. The other males are Hamilton, Thomas, Willy, Kristof, Sven and Charlie. The other females are Chelsey, Penny, Isabel, Blackberry, Ivy, Kenai, Monica and Phoebe.”
She says they all have different personalities. Some are shy, some are super friendly and all of them are curious, just like cats. And are very smart.
“They come right up to get a close look at visitors, and like to be friendly, especially since they know that they usually get treats when there is company,” she says. “And, they like the dogs, Tank, Abby and Jack. They all get along.”
And, in case you are wondering, the cats are Dobie, Sirius, Mittens and Fred. The chickens, however, remain nameless.
“The chickens actually help out the alpacas by getting rid of parasites and insects,” she explains. “And besides, there is nothing like farm fresh eggs. I sell the extra ones.”
Anderson says there are two types of alpacas in the world and hers are all Huycaya. The other kind is Suri. There are about four million alpacas in the world, and they come from the South American countries of Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
Each spring she has the alpacas sheared for their fiber, which she sends on to a mill in North Dakota to be spun. She says it is best to use a professional shearer because you wind up with a better product. Going over the alpaca twice while shearing is not good.
“The shearing at my farm is usually done the last Monday in April because it works into the shearer’s schedule,” Anderson says. “He is from Minnesota and travels around the state. He comes here after shearing some alpacas in Albert Lea. I usually have guests here and have a shearing party, with food, but not last year, I only had a few people here.”
Some years she has had 20 to 60 people at the farm for the shearing event.
When she gets the fiber back from the mill (she does not call it wool), she cleans it, dyes it, and puts it into skeins.
“I have some available at Becki Steier’s B.S. Studio,” she says. “I have also taught some knitting classes there, pre-COVID-19. I taught myself to knit when I was living in Alaska.”
Anderson also knits lots of mittens and some caps out of the alpaca fiber, as well. She sells those online, at some stores and other places.
“I was going to three or four shows each year, before COVID,” she says. “I went to the Shepherds Harvest in Lake Elmo, and Amboy Arts and More in September. And the North Star Farm Tour.”
This year a stop on the tour could be Anderson’s own Frosty Acres Alpaca Farm.
“If they can even have the tour this year,” she adds, because of COVID. “The attendance varies from farm to farm, but it has been as many as 1,000 in the past.”
Taking care of her animals is hard work, with chores twice a day, but she doesn’t mind it.
“I work as a nurse in Albert Lea four days a week,” she says. “Sometimes I come home pretty tired and not sure I want to do the chores, but I do them and it perks me up and makes me happy.”
Back in December she fell and hurt her ankle and could not do her animal chores. Luckily, she had some volunteer helpers.
“My friends, neighbors and my dad all helped me,” she says. “One nearby neighbor said he would help and came every day he could. That is what is great about living here.”
Except for seven years in Alaska, Anderson says she has spent her life in Faribault County.
She says she can hardly believe she has had the alpacas for 10 years now.
“They are wonderful and very loving,” she says. “They are pleasant to be around and easy to train and I am happy to have them with me.”
Alpacas live to be 20 to 25 years old, so Anderson plans to have them around for a long, long time.