‘Yak’-ing it up: Noblesville family opens unique ranch and winery business


By Mary Farucci

Noblesville residents Chris and Cathy Lammer and their 16-year-old twin sons, Zachary and Jacob, enjoy “the simple life,” as they call it.

Self-described first-generation farmers, the family came up with a unique business combining yaks and wine – called Woolly Yak Ranch & Winery – that will celebrate its grand opening next month in Arcadia. The idea for the yak piece of the business was inspired, in part, by their love of animals.

“They’re really like big puppy dogs,” Chris said.

“I started Googling ‘cool animals,’ and one thing led to another,” Cathy said.

Yaks are a species of long-haired domesticated cattle found in several regions of South Asia.

“They’re a lot of fun,” Chris said. “They’re interesting animals, but they do have personalities like cats and dogs. They’re fun to watch. They’ll frolick a lot. They’re very versatile animals and they’re a little exotic here in the Midwest. Most of the herds are out West.”

IMG 9471
From left, Chris Lammer, Zachary Lammer, Jacob Lammer, Cathy Lammer (Photos by Mary Farucci)

The Lammers purchased their first three yaks from a Mennonite family in northern Indiana. The family owned a yak farm and provided the Lammers instructions on how to care for them and raise them. They now have 10 yaks in their herd and expect to have an 11th by the end of the month.

Besides yaks, the Lammers own several Babydoll Southdown sheep, Kunekune pigs, which are native to New Zealand, and purple martin birds. The family-friendly farm and winery that hosts field trips and is open to the public. General admission and parking are free.

Chris and Cathy said they established Woolly Yak Ranch & Winery, which will celebrate its grand opening April 6-8 with a series of activities and eclipse-viewing events, as an opportunity for their son, Jacob, who has autism, to have a long-term career. They said it’s important to them that Jacob has a chance to contribute to the business while maintaining a level of independence.

“We really thought about just getting a few animals for Jacob, and then it just turned into this thing,” Cathy said. “I’m a ‘bite off more than I can chew’-type of person.”

The farm offers quaint and up-close opportunities to meet the animals, connect with nature, take  strolls around a sprawling pecan orchard and – for guests 21 and older – enjoy a glass of wine.

The animals are housed in the backyard of the Lammer’s Noblesville home, where they have ample space to roam, but they will be permanently relocated to their new home in Arcadia at the end of this month.

“(Jacob) currently gets ABA (applied behavioral analysis) full time, and once we get the animals up in Arcadia, which is going to be this month, they (behavioral analysts) will come up there and work with him, helping him learn all the jobs,” Cathy said. “They’re already working with him on inventory management, so it’s not just outdoor stuff. The plan was we were really just going to get some animals for him to hang with because we had thought about that when he was younger, and then as he got older, we knew he was going to need a job.”

When they’re not manning the farm, Cathy works as a finance manager at a car dealership in Plainfield, and Chris works as an accountant who also taught at Ivy Tech.

IMG 9464
Woolly Yak Ranch & Winery will celebrated its grand-opening next month in Arcadia. (Photo by Mary Farucci)

Grand-reopening celebration

The grand-opening weekend for Woolly Yak Ranch & Winery will feature animals, live music, an artisan market, a play area, a sensory-friendly viewing area, a food truck and wine. The business is at 3124 E. 266th St., Arcadia.

After that, Woolly Yak Ranch & Winery will be open for business every weekend throughout the summer. Additional business hours have have not yet been announced. For more, visit woollyyak.com.