Thursday, September 18, 2008

Llama farm visit

Our local knitting guild was treated to a tour of a llama farm. This was a special treat, since the llamas were incredibly tame. They gave "kisses", which is to say that they gently nuzzle your face, to see how you smell. They are even more familar with their owner, adding a gentle (I hope it was) chin nip to the nuzzle. Her back scratches are welcomed and enjoyed to an extreme when the right spot is scratched.

My only other contacts with llamas has been as guards for alpacas. I've heard stories of their ferocity in defending the flock, so I was surprised to see how gentle these animals can be.

These llamas enjoy their days in a meadow which is graced by a view of the mountains.

Of course, it is not so bucolic as it seems. Life can be hard for llamas and the farmer, who have to cope with coyotes and poison weeds. Then there's the winter here, which can be intensely cold and snowy. The llamas have barns and hay to help them through.

Interesting llama lore: These llamas are sheared standing up; it's just the owner's preference. She puts them in a squeeze chute and shears them with scissors. She used to use hand shears, but found it too difficult to find some place to sharpen them.

Male llamas have sharp, curved "fighting" teeth that have to be cut or clipped off. The squeeze chute helps here, too, although we were assured that there are no nerves in these teeth and the llamas don't feel it when they are removed.

There's alpacas, too. Lots of them.

These alpacas were sheared by the shearer this year. That meant they were stretched out flat and tied while being sheared. This didn't sit too well with the farmer and her gentle approach to her animals, but it was effective.

The result is seen in these bags and bags of fleece, all of which has to be sorted and picked clean before it is boxed and sent off to be processed.

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Sam said...

Aah that first picture is so cute! I had no idea about the teeth clipping thing. I don't know, it doesn't sound good to me.

Marjorie said...

I woke up thinking about Rhinebeck, and your post just brought back that daydream (lots of llamas there too--but not in such a lovely setting). Your pictures are great.

Vickie said...

I need to come live closer to you. You always find the most interesting places to hang out and see all the cool animals! The scenery where you go is just fabulous. Makes me miss trees!

Jenny Girl said...

I do learn something everyday.
Smelling and fighting llamas...who would have thought :)