Judi had this harebrained idea to go visit other farms and businesses that are trying to enrich our local culture and that are seeking a more meaningful relationship to the land and our environment.
We didn’t have to look too far to meet wonderful people doing some exciting things. Just 21 miles east of our farm, right off State Highway 32 in Western Boone County, Jennifer and Forrest Bopp have developed a small farm they call Heavenly Acres Farm and Learning Center. They bought their 11-acre place in 2016 and have been improving it and creating a farm that will eventually support their livelihood. Seems like a reasonable enough goal, right? Jennifer recently made the leap to work on the farm full-time and says she does not miss her desk job. “I definitely work harder now than before, but I feel so much more energized being on the farm.”
The main source of their farm income is from a farmstay they run out of their vintage classic Indiana farmhouse. They have remodeled a suite in the rear of the home to accommodate up to 6 guests with easy access to the farm animals, which constitute the primary experience. Guests can also camp or park their own RV on the farm. They offer tours of the farm where they teach guests about the animals and guests meet and interact with all the different livestock.
During our visit, we met an assortment of Heavenly Acres citizens. A pen of ducks and a rainbow chicken flock started our tour after meeting some of the very extroverted cats! But our crew gravitated right away to the alpacas. There were a total of 10 and all were loaded with personality. We fed some of them pellets from our hands, but not Victoria, who is more aloof and likes to spit (she has since given birth to a beautiful baby boy). I especially enjoyed patting their poofy head tuft (much more than they did!).
Their wool was unbelievably soft and is harvested once a year and spun on-farm to make yarn, which Jennifer knits into articles like scarves which are very popular. “We have a little on-farm store, and it’s almost always sold out!” she says. We were not as familiar with fiber production from alpacas.
The other big hit with our boys were the 3 donkeys. They were large and very friendly. The jack (name is Jack, go figure) was especially loving and just couldn’t get enough petting. They guard their pasture vigilantly, chasing away coyotes and other intruders. Forrest says they are very effective guardians and insatiable love bugs.
We also met a huge ewe and ram (Suffolk sheep), miniature horses, a miniature mule, and several goats. There were no hogs currently on the farm as they had recently been harvested. All were housed in a large classic red barn.
All in all, we had a great time exploring Heavenly Acres and learning about the various farm projects. We really appreciated the focus on learning about the animals and providing an exciting farm experience to the guests. Business for the farmstay is brisk as there is currently a lot of interest in these types of lodgings.
A big thank you goes to our new friends Jennifer and Forrest Bopp for sharing their farm with us and for teaching us how they are making their dream business work. We also welcome them into our community of people committed to the land and maybe our readers will want to investigate Heavenly Acres Farm, too! Go to their website at https://heavenlyacresfarm.net/. Also, you can find their listing with Farm Stay USA and AirBnb.