Hidden by trailers, barns and classic cars near Toledo is a group of gangly animals that serve as friends and a source of fleece.

It's the Spinning Spider Alpaca Farm, run primarily by Sheila Rosine, along with family members, including son Adam Sears and his children.

Rosine, who already runs a small farm, picked up her first alpaca years ago and integrated him into her existing operation.

Over the years, they have taken over more and more of the property, with barns and work areas converted into homes for the animals.

Their living area now brings them into clear view of the house so Rosine can watch them while doing dishes.

"You just fall in love with them," Rosine said.

Being cliquish animals, Rosine has developed a series of spaces to allow them to remain with their friends and avoid their rivals.

This also cuts down on the spitting, she said.

"They do spit, but it's usually over feed or just arguing," she said.

They are friendly to humans, she said. Sears said he feels his 11-month-old daughter is safe with them.

Rosine continues to work part time, which gives her the flexibility to work with the animals.

One of the alpacas, Carmi, was recently a mother, giving birth by a C-section to Rachel Lynn.

Carmi's a brown animal with a white strip on her neck and one of the most appreciative members of the herd.

"She'll follow people up and down the fence just to get a kiss," Rosine said.

Alpacas are a type of camel, related to Dromedaries, Bactrians and llamas. They generally live between 15 and 20 years, according to the Alpaca Owners Association. Rosine has had several animals live into their mid-20s.

Alpacas and llamas come from the same regions and are often confused. Alpacas are generally raised for their soft coats, while llamas are used as pack animals.

The AOA notes that on average an alpaca will reproduce 5 to 10 pounds of fiber per animal annually.

This fiber is the reason most alpacas are farmed.

Sears noted the fiber is naturally water-wicking and warm, making it great for all kinds of winter clothes. He said one of his major buyers are farmers during the hunting season.

"You get the fruits of your labor," said Sears, as a farmer can deal with the entire production cycle. It starts with raising the animals, continues through shearing, cleaning and processing, ending with a beautiful product, he said.

"Anything you can possibly imagine for winter," he said.

The property is open to visitors, although Rosine asks people call ahead at 217-273-1222.

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