A couple of weeks ago, we welcomed a new addition to our farm. Meet Larry the Llama!
For Nathan and the boys, his name was a no-brainer. Eva and I suggested Lawrence, though, isn’t that far more sophisticated? But I realize that’s not what we’re going for here, so – Larry it is!
To be honest, Nathan and I both have always thought llamas to be…well…ugly. We didn’t know the difference between alpacas and llamas, and we thought, frankly they just look like bug-eyed, goofy-haired, skinny camels. Well, turns out llamas are in the camelid family and cousins to the smaller alpacas, which are bred for the finer fibers in their fleece. Llamas are a domesticated animal native of the Andes Mountains of Peru. They can pack (carry) 30% of their body weight, are very hardy, and surprisingly low-maintenance.
Our Larry is quirky and independent. He’s attentive to our small flock of sheep and in constant alertness. He seems to be happy and at home grazing out in the pasture.
So…why a llama?? Ever since we’ve had sheep, we couldn’t leave them in the pasture over night due to coyote predators. Eva would let them out of the barn in the morning, and Nathan would put them in at night. This was not what we wanted for the long-term. It’s unnecessary work (who needs that?!) and unnecessary cost (ditto!) in feed and bedding. The way to fix the problem is get the sheep a babysitter…err guardian.
We considered several options for guardian animals. We narrowed it down to a dog or a llama. The down side of using a dog is that it would need dog food fed separate from the sheep, whereas llamas eat the grass/hay just the same as sheep. Also, while certain breeds of dogs can make great livestock guardians, they can be noisy during the night. So there you have it, process of elimination is effective in decision making- ha!
Timing was key – Nathan had an out-of-state work conference coming up, and we wanted to go with him to make it a family trip. Just in the eleventh hour, Nathan found a young male llama a half-hour away ready to join our farm! We tried to coordinate a delivery, but Nathan ended up renting a U-Haul trailer and picking up the llama after work. We introduced him to the sheep three days before our trip! We didn’t even know how he and the sheep would get along, but it went really smoothly, considering.
Now that Larry the llama has been here a few weeks, he really is a great guard animal and a wonderful addition to our farm! He’s bonded well with his little flock…now to bond with us…eek! More to come, I’m sure!
with love. Damaris