Urban Dreams Farm

Emma Urban carries a young lamb from the yard to the barn on her farm in Riverdale, Mich. on April 13, 2017.


Arthur, the most friendly of several rams that reside at Urban Dreams farm of Riverdale, Mich., gets up close and personal while being fed grass (his favorite snack), April 13, 2017.


Many people dream of shifting their lives course; changing careers, relocating or even just learning a new skill or hobby. Fantasies of sudden life transitions fuel the daydreams of adults everywhere but it seems to be something that people rarely act upon. However, there are always some that decide to veer off the beaten path they’ve safely circled for years and embark on a new journey.

Urban Dreams Farm is the result of one woman who decided to withdraw from the corporate world, leave the city and turn her lifelong dream into a reality. Emma Urban started the farm, located in Riverdale, Michigan, in 2008 following the tragic lost of her husband. Urban Dreams is a fiber farm specializing in harvesting from alpaca and a small number of sheep and goats. Emma grew up on a farm and always had a love of fiber. Her first experience buying a sheep, shearing and using a drop spindle occurred during her teen years. Urban began the farm with a starter herd of four female alpacas and after a couple years she learned that males yielded more fiber without as much of an investment. The herd quickly grew to sixty alpacas but after another couple years it proved to be too taxing so she downsized to about 40 alpaca. Which she currently has along with Angora goats, Angora rabbits and two peacocks. The farm is also home to a few chickens, a handful of barn cats and five dogs, three of which are used to protect and herd the alpaca. When asked about her favorite part of living and working on her own farm Urban replied, “The freedom to make choices about how to spend my time. A big part of that is enjoying the critters.”.

Emma rents a small house on her property to a married couple who are also in the business of shearing and farm animal care. There are a few days each spring in which the three of them dedicate to shearing the animals. ” Shearing days are always very stressful because it is what I work for all year.” Urban says. The harvested fibers are woven into fabric and felt that Urban uses to make socks, winter wear, purses and other products to sell.

A large loom rests in the mill at Urban Dreams Farm (a farm that houses mostly alpaca and sheep) in Riverdale, Mich. April 27, 2017. The loom is used to weave the sheared fiber from alpacas and sheep into marketable fabric and felt.


A group of Alpaca rests in their barn at Urban Dreams farm run by Emma Urban in Riverdale, Mich. on April 27, 2017.
Kate O’Brian hugs an alpaca to calm her before she is sheared in the barn of Urban Dreams Farm in RIverdale, Mich. on April 27, 2017.
Emma Urban spreads the wool of a sheep to show how soft, clean and golden the fleece is despite how weathered the outer layers are, Urban Dreams Farm in Riverdale, Mich. April 27, 2017.
Emma Urban, left, and Kate O’Brian, right, shear a sheep in the barn of Urban Dreams Farms in Riverdale, Mich. April 27, 2017.
Patrick and Kate O’Brian, left, sits with Emma Urban, right, as they enjoy a lunch break after a long morning of shearing alpaca and sheep at Urban Dreams Farm in Riverdale, Mich. April 27, 2017.