SHUEYVILLE, Iowa (KWWL) -- During the pandemic, nearly all local business owners have had to get creative in how to generate revenue to stay afloat and the agri-tourism business is no different.
At the Prairie Patch Farm in Shueyville, you'll find nearly 50-acres of natural prairie land to hike through, with an added bonus, llamas.
Kahle Boutte, the owner, inherited the farm from her uncle, who had the vision to dedicate the land to conservation
"All of our revenue that comes in through Prairie Patch, our llama hiking business and the other things that we do pays for the maintaining of this property, and also for the keep of our now six camelid friends,"said Boutte.
Before the pandemic, hikes and visitors kept the farm operational.
"Not just us but many farms in the area, we really depend on that foot traffic of the public coming out, you know, to help our causes and the things that we're doing. So, with the shutdowns and all those things, all of us have been greatly affected by that," said Boutte.
Just like many other business owners, Boutte was looking for a solution to generate revenue amid the pandemic and saw that a farm in California was offering llama zoom calls.
"So have a llama join your zoom call," said Boutte, "It wasn't our original idea but we definitely wanted it to do something to offer for people because I hear so often that sometimes zoom calls can be mundane, or they just want something to brighten people up"
The calls have since become a big hit. So far Boutte estimates she's at least had a llama 'bomb' zoom calls, from birthday parties, happy hours, and even business meetings.
"Some people are burying their heads in their faces, they're saying 'oh my gosh is that a Llama? Is it real?'," said Boutte.
While Bouttee only takes donations from the calls, she said it's helped get them through the 40-plus days without paying visitors.
"I have been so overwhelmed with the generosity of people who have given. And so it has absolutely helped us immensely to, you know, continue what we're doing here," said Bouttee.
The Farm is slowly reopening to visitors, allowing small groups to come for social distanced hikes. However, Bouttee said they'll continue with the llama zoom calls as long as there's a demand.
The farm is also doing virtual field trips for area teachers who are looking for extra opportunities to engage their students.
They've also started 'llama grams' where they'll bring a llama to an event such as a birthday party for photos and to pet.
Click here to visit the Prairie Patch Farm website to learn more.