Traveling the twisting, two-lane blacktop pastoral roads of Jasper County brings the nonstop sight of cows, horses and chickens. Nestled into this farmland is the Stroka-Gene-Us Alpaca Farm in Stringer, where one can pet these animals and learn how to spin their fleece into yarn.

The 27-acre farm owned by Mary Ann Stroka is home to several alpacas where visitors can pet the docile animals during educational tours conducted by Stroka herself.

Stroka retired to Stringer from New York. After seeing her first alpaca, she fell in love. “They were so unbelievably soft,” said Stroka. “I just had to have a few.”

She and her family also needed a place to to keep the alpacas, which many confuse with their larger cousin, the llama. She settled on this location, which can be found through a left turn off MS 15 South onto County Road 155 in Stringer.

“Alpaca fleece is ten times softer and three times warmer than wool,” said Stroka. “It’s naturally water resistant and hypoallergenic. From separating fleece fibers using a carder machine to the spinning wheel making a skein of yarn is so relaxing. You get into a rhythm. The whole process takes about nine hours, so I do it because I love it, certainly not for the money,” she said.