Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

2013 Christmas Picture 11a

Merry Christmas from me and my Boys!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Poor Indiana


Poor Indiana. Being the oldest of all my Guys, I used to try anything new out on him first. I figured that he had the most experience and he would be the one to help me learn. I learned that llamas learn by watching other llamas. I learned that Indiana doesn’t like being the guinea pig (It took me a bit of time to learn that).

Because I practiced my injection-giving skills on him, he is the only one of the Boys that gets upset when he sees me coming with the syringes. I feel really bad for him – it’s got to be kind of like when you have a bad experience at the dentist – you always anticipate the worst every time you go for a check up afterwards… This past month was the best he’s been in a while – there was a lot of foot stamping, but he did stand still  Happy

When exploring new places to hike, I would bring Indiana with me. A lot of times the hike ended up being a lot longer than either of us anticipated. I think because of that, he is not as excited to go on hikes as the other Guys are. I am working on purposely taking him on short hikes – I want to try having him go home wanting more… hopefully that will help him enjoy our walks more.


When it came time for shearing in the spring, I thought he would have been the easiest of the bunch, but he turned out to be the hardest. He just would not stand still, even in the chute I made. It was horrible. I only got the bare-minimum done on him before I gave up.

As I progressed through the other Guys, I thought maybe I would see if I could go back finish up Indiana and do a little bit better job – especially as the weather was getting hotter (I didn’t do everyone at once – the whole getting-everyone-sheared was spread out over about a week-and-a-half). I think that by him watching me shear the other Guys, he figured out that it was nothing to worry about. I was prepared for battle, but he stood perfectly still as I finished up his haircut. It was actually quite enjoyable finishing him up!  And no – I am not posting pictures of The Boys after their haircuts…  it was my first attempt they looked pretty bad for a couple of weeks (I used scissors – I can’t afford electric shearers Batting Eyelashes ).


I tried putting a packing saddle on him and he did not like it at all. He let me do it, but he was not happy. Maybe I tried when it was too hot out… But I think I need to let him see me put it on someone else. I’m going to try putting the saddle on Dalai while Indian is watching and then see what happens.

It’s kinda of tough learning how to do the things I need to do without making mistakes.  I feel bad that Indiana has been the one to feel the brunt of those mistakes, but I think in a sense he’s been sort of training me  LOL

I think it will take a while before he realizes that I’m not going to practice on him anymore.  Well, at least not very often anyway.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Little Scary

I never thought I would be apprehensive around a llama, but Allbus was a bit scary. I had never seen a llama kick before. Allbus definitely knew how to kick and he was fast. On the plus side, he was pretty small and llamas have soft feet (like the bottom of a dog’s foot). On the other hand, it still hurt to be kicked. He only nailed me once, but that was enough.

I can only suppose that this is the result of never being handled before.

Allbus the day after arrival

While he let me halter him, Allbus did not like to have the rest of his body touched. If I wanted to use him as a packer, then I would have to be able to touch him all over without worry about anything… It did not look like I would be able to use Allbus for packing.

My thoughts were, “I have more llamas than I wanted anyway, so I could just sell him…”


…Maybe someone with more experience or someone more interested in his (really soft and silky!) wool would buy him.

Then I thought, “I could probably get more money for him if he was just a bit better trained…”  Thinking


So I worked with him as best as I could. He learned how to enter and exit the trailer easily. He can stay out on a picket line with no problem. I set up an obstacle course for the Boys and he goes over, under and through obstacles without too much trouble. He wouldn’t stand still when it came time to shear him – he obstinately laid down… but he didn’t know that he made things a whole lot easier for me Laughing I worked (cautiously) on getting him used to be touched all over his body. He is still a little touchy about his legs, but the kicking has pretty much stopped. I can pick up and trim the nails on his front feet but he still won’t let me pick up his back feet - but he let me trim his nails while they were on the ground… I’m fine with that for now!

I worked on all this with the goal of being able to sell him and make a little profit.

The more I worked with him, the more he seemed eager to learn new things…

He is now one of my favorites out the bunch and would never consider selling him!

Allbus needs a haircut!

When he went on his first hike off the property, I went with a couple of friends and took Indiana and Dalai with us. He did great.  He did great on a solo hike (just the two of us) along the canal, too.  We’ve gone a few other hikes since - I really think he loves it. I think when he is old enough, he will be a great packer  Happy

Allbus along the canal

Monday, October 21, 2013


Being a relatively new llama owner, having three never-before-handled ‘babies’ was a little bit scary.

The ride out to Ohio and back was a bad drive. It was foggy and raining and snowing and windy – you name it, I pretty much drove through it. With just me and the truck, that’s fine, but pulling a trailer with live cargo – that was kind of stressful. When I finally got home with the Little Guys, it was dark out. I pretty much got them out to their field as quickly as I could and left them to settle in on their own, in the dark.

Fog & Rain



The next day, I was nervous about taking their halters off. The previous day was the first time they were haltered. They had been all haltered up before I got there, so I didn’t know how easy or hard a time the seller had with the Little Guys. To be clear, I wasn’t nervous about taking the halters off, but nervous about how hard it would be to get them back on later.

I know that when buying a llama, you are supposed to have the owner show you how they are handled, but the guy was honest in saying that they were never handled before, so I didn’t really have any expectations. I just made sure I saw them walk around so that I could see that they were sound and nothing physically wrong with them. (This is pretty much why I could afford these guys).

I also know that you are not supposed to leave the halters on when llamas are out in their field, so I knew I had to take them off. I was amazed at how relatively easy it was to approach them and get the halters off. I’m guessing that they were probably still unsure of their surroundings, so that probably helped.

The morning after the Boys arrived

Over the next few weeks, I worked a lot with the Little Guys. Olliver and Allbus were very jumpy and skittish. Merllin was very calm and laid back. Merllin let me put his halter on very easily after three or four tries. Now he even lets me walk up to him and halter him out in the field – as opposed to the others who only let me halter them in the catch pen. I wonder if the skittishness is a Surri thing, because none of the other Boys are like that…

At this point they can all be haltered with relatively little problem. Olliver has to do his little dance before he will stand still, but the dance is getting shorter as time goes on.


Monday, October 14, 2013


Llamas don’t like to be alone, so having only two Boys was now a problem for me – I couldn’t work with one because that would mean the other one would be left by himself. I had to find another llama to replace Harry.

You know how it is when you are not looking for something and they are all over the place, but as soon as you are looking, they are nowhere to be found? And the opposite it true too. You can’t find something no matter how hard you look and as soon as finally do, they are all over the place. Yeah. Welcome to my world.

So my search for another young, affordable male was quite a struggle. It seemed like everyone had females for sale or really expensive Show llamas, but not what I was looking for.

After weeks of searching, I finally found someone in Ohio who seemed to have a llama that was close to what I was looking for… he was quite a bit younger than what I would have really liked, but that was OK. The funny thing is that he looked a bit like Harry, too…

Again, another long story short – in March, I came home with three llamas.

They were all very young and had never been handled or haltered until the day I picked them up. That made me a little apprehensive, but I figured I would give it a shot.

The one thing that I thought was weird is that none of them had any names. Indiana and Dalai had ‘official’ names when I got them (which I changed anyway), but the new guys didn’t have names at all. That just seems so sad.

Meet the newest Boys:

This is Merllin (yes, spelled with two L’s, because he’s a llama) – He turned one in May. So far he is just the sweetest guy you can imagine. When he grows up, I think he is going to be a phenomenal packer.


This is Olliver (yes, spelled with two L’s, because he’s a llama) – He also turned one in May. He is a Surri llama. His wool is so silky compared to the other regular-wooled Boys. His name is a tribute to one of my most favorite Top Gear episodes.  Merllin and Olliver are half-brothers – they have the same Dad, but different mothers.


This is Allbus (yes, spelled with two L’s, because he’s a llama) – he is my nod the Harry Potter series (as in Albus Dumbledore). He is also a Surri llama and he turned two in September.



Since I got my new boys, at least four llamas right in my area have become available that would have been perfect replacements for Harry. Go figure.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Finally Ready

So time has passed and I feel I am ready to write again. A lot has happened over the past year – some good and some not-so-good… But overall, things have been moving along. Not as quickly as I would have liked, but being by myself, everything takes longer to get done.

At the beginning of the year, I lost one of my llamas – Harry. The thing that makes me angry is that if I had more information, the whole situation could have been avoided.

The one thing that is deadly to llamas if contracted, is meningeal worm. The worm is spread by white-tail deer and affects the nervous system. The only known protection is regular injections of Dectomax or Ivermectin. I knew that and was OK with that maintenance. I got the Boys from Pennsylvania – near the Allegheny Forest, which to say contains some white-tail deer is a gross understatement.

The people I bought the Boys from showed me how to give the injections and I received their medical record sheets that listed when they got their shots and anything else they had done. I went home with the Boys happily confident that I would be a good owner.

Looking at the medical charts, the Boys were getting their shots approximately every six months. Twice a year? As Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear would say: “How hard can it be?” That was the schedule they were on, so that was the schedule I was going to keep – easy peasy.


Sometime around Christmas, I noticed that Harry was having trouble with his back legs and was struggling to stand sometimes. Once he was up however, he seemed to be fine. After a couple of days, he was still having trouble, so I called the vet.

To make a long story short, it turned out that the Boys were supposed to be receiving shots every month, not every six months. Harry had meningeal worm and they were in his spine. We gave Harry a blast of meds in the hope that we could prevent any further damage and could still have a mostly-normal life, but it was not meant to be. There was a time over the following weeks that it looked like he was going to beat the odds, but in February I made the very hard decision to have him euthanized.


Dalai and Indian watching over Harry 

Fortunately, Indiana and Dalai were not affected.

My next door neighbors were absolute saints in helping me through that hard time – for which I will forever be grateful.

Every time I think about the situation, I get soooo angry. The Boys grew up with gazillions of white-tail deer around them – why were they OK there and not by me? I wish so much that I had known to give the injections more frequently and that Harry was still with me. He was so sweet and would have been a great packer.

I miss you Harry.

Miss you!