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Tyler Waugh and Ellen Gerber pose with the alpaca that helped in Waugh's proposal April 2.

Omaha resident proposes to girlfriend at Fort Calhoun alpaca farm

Omaha resident Ellen Gerber thought the alpacas at Sheri and Mike Jacoby's farm east of Fort Calhoun were just trying to eat carrots from her hand.

"I was really shocked," Gerber said.

Because there was one alpaca there to help give her an engagement ring.

"If you watch the video, her comments are so hilarious," Gerber's fiance Tyler Waugh said, referring to a post on the Alpaca's of the Heartland's Facebook page. "'I've got carrots in my hand!'"

Waugh said he'd been planning the April 2 proposal for some time. He knew an alpaca farm would be the perfect place for the event because Gerber loves alpacas, even donning an alpaca-themed shirt from time to time.

"I don't think I ever see her get more excited then when we talk about going to an alpaca farm," Waugh said.

"The fascination with alpacas, my cousin got married out in Seattle," Gerber said. "When we were staying at the hotel, they said, 'Well, we're known for whale watching and alpaca farms.' We went there, fell in love with it, and then we found out that there were alpaca farms in Nebraska."

For the past four years, the couple has attended the open houses Jacoby has hosted on her property. Waugh said he thought Jacoby's farm would be the best place to propose, so, through a friend, he was able to get in contact with Jacoby.

"Somebody tagged me (on Facebook) and asked if I could help them out," Sheri said. "Never had an engagement before (on the farm)."

Three weeks of planning later, and Waugh and Gerber were out to the farm to see some alpacas. Waugh slipped the ring to Sheri through folded up dollar bills, the perfect disguise after Sheri said she accepts donations.

"Did you really?" Gerber asked Waugh a couple weeks later. "That's smart."

While the couple was in one area petting some of the animals, Sheri slipped to a pasture that houses young alpacas, tying the ring around one brown alpaca's neck. A short while later, the couple came to pet the young alpacas in that very same pasture.

"I said I could take a picture, video," Sheri said. "They said, 'Yeah, take my picture.'"

The scene was set, except for one problem.

"(Sheri) would say, 'About ready,' and the alpaca would run away, so we'd have to go run him down. That happened three or four times," Waugh said. "The whole time, I was like, 'She's going to see it, she's going to see it before I even get a chance."

But Gerber didn't see.

"There were alpacas out behind, there was a lot going on," she said. "They're just so happy, they're so smiley, they're just so soft, they're just so cute."

Eventually, the alpaca stayed in one spot long enough for Waugh to get down on one knee.

"I was really shocked," Gerber said. "I figured when it happened, I would know. It'd be like a not surprise, surprise. But (he) stunned me to the core. Not how I thought my Tuesday would go."

It was a good week, Gerber said, because her birthday was two days later. And about a year from now, Waugh and Gerber will start calling their engagement a marriage.

"We'll invite them," Waugh said of the Jacobys.

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