Saturday, May 26, 2012

Save the Drama for Your Llama...

Sean has wanted a llama forever; to guard the does, to sell the fleece when sheared, to go hiking with, as a companion... because it's a LLAMA.  And, it does make a kind of sense. Take our decision to separate out our bucks from our does, (so we can control the pace and heritage of our kids) add that to our intention on keeping both turkey and goat paddocks further into the wooded portion of our land (to clear out the underbrush and provide more grazing land) and you come out with our does living relatively unprotected from predators. Additonal reasons to keep a llama, is for fiber. Llamas appreciate a hair cut in warm summer months and their fleece can sell for a small sum of money, which helps defray the cost of keeping the llama. Also, llama manure is so fully digested, it can be added directly to a garden without needing to compost it (according to this website HERE). A less important reason to obtain a llama is that Sean dreams (literally) of hiking with his llama up Mt Waldo, to the quarry nearby and in the woods. And, of course, of riding his llama (which I stand firmly against.)

And... it's a LLAMA.

On the other hand, most llamas are expensive to buy by my standards. A previous Uncle Henry's ad had one priced at $450, which is on the low side. Depending on training, lineage, sex, fiber quality, you can expect to pay from $600 to over $1,500 for a llama. That is not in the budget. Even considering that we can get along with purchasing a lower priced animal since fiber production (we don't expect huge amounts of money from the fiber of one llama) and lineage are not as relevant to our needs (we won't be breeding our llama), but $450 is still more than I can reasonably spend at the moment- with our main barn still in need of finishing.

Enter "Mr. Farmer" from Waldoboro and his brown llama, named Dilly.

Mr. Farmer is retiring from a life of farming to settle into a smaller home with his wife, to enjoy his grand kids and the rest of his days. When we spoke on the phone, he gave me the impression of my Grandpa George- hard working, rugged, capable. He recalled how he has kept goats, geese, ducks, turkeys, chicken, and cows throughout his life, for milk, eggs, and meat. Now he's selling them off. He acquired Dilly at a farm auction about 2 years back for his herd of dairy goats, age unknown for certain. His neighbor, who keeps a small herd of llamas, looked the boy over then and placed him at about 5 years old, which makes Dilly about 7-8 today. Dilly loves his goats and his people. Mr. Farmer sounded quite sad to let him go, saying how he'd miss Dilly running to see him and thrusting his nose in Mr. Farmer's face in greeting each day. Dilly walks on a halter, but most of the time is content to follow Mr. Farmer around as he completes his chores. We talked for about an hour with me asking questions and Mr. Farmer patiently answering them. At the end, Mr. Farmer offered us a price we could afford and we set a time for Sean and I to visit his farm on Tuesday night to meet Dilly.

Then, the serious thinking, discussing and research began. Our llama needs to be 1. healthy, 2. friendly to humans, 3. affectionate with our goats, and 4. reasonably willing to protect them from predators. Sean and I read no less than 10 websites devoted to care and keeping of llamas. We discovered that many people have their llama's fighting teeth sawed off when young to prevent fighting among themselves, that they can live to be 20-30 years old, depending on how well they are cared for, that they thrive in cold weather and require a 3 sided shed to be comfortable and get out of the wet or cold. We read that 2 llamas can live off  1/2 acre of land well and that they do best in herds of other llamas, sheep, or goats. Contrary to common belief, llamas only spit as a warning. Llamas are generally good tempered, but will defend their herd (when the does are in heat, especially) by head butting or pushing humans away. Llamas can be fed for less than the cost of keeping a large dog. They need a variety of shots to prevent rabies and tetanus, like other livestock. (This reminded us that our goats were due for their shots, too.) All in all, we were very encouraged by our reading when we settled into bed for the night.

This morning, I contacted a friend about the possibility of her accompanying us with a truck and trailer on Tuesday for our visit. KelLee readily agreed. What a blessing to have someone in our lives who not only has been farming for a while, but is willing to help and share her knowledge with us! We thank God for her, often.

So... the best I can tell... we may have a guard llama sooner than we anticipated. But, that is how things happen around here. Animals have a way of finding us at just the right time for where we are in this journey. I am only glad that we planned an extra 10x10 stall in our barn blueprint!

We'll let you know what happens!
Sonja ♥

1 comment:

  1. I want, I want, I want!!! I luuurve llamas!!! I hope Dilly will be a good fit.