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Llama Diary

Is it the menopause or midlife crisis? I don't know, it's just that since a former colleague of mine (Caroline Pembro) spoke about Llamas at a WI meeting last year and brought her Llama Hattie along, these animals were on my mind a heck of a lot.
And when we had a pretty tough time in the summer trying to keep up with brush cutting and grass mowing, we decided we needed animals to do that job for us.

Due to the lay-out of our field, this job can only really be done by sheep, goats or llamas/alpacas. So we looked further into this, weighed up the pros and cons and decided that for us in our situation llamas would be the best choice. Not only do they eat it all, do NOT need shearing, constant drenching, are not escapologists (like goats), are apparently very hardy and, best of all, are not classed as livestock, but as pets, so we can try to train them to walk with us and become our pack animals (helping us to bring 'stuff' to and from the field) or even train them as trail llamas, without having to fill in all sorts of forms every time they leave the field as you have to do for sheep and goats.
Of course we then went over to see Caroline's Llama herd. And that was really it - Martin fell for them, too!
Well - since Saturday, 19 February 2011, these three Llama girls are "lam" on the Dickerfield.


I'll be making lots of photos, of course, whether you want to see them or not!

1 day later the girls are already eating right next to us, Lindi even out of our hands!


3. March 2011

Our halter training isn't going too well - we're just not used to Llamas yet, but next week Caroline is coming around to show us how to do it. But we can stroke their necks firmly whilst they're eating and remove the stupid burrs they have in their coat. And they now come running to us when we enter the field

We have also introduced the dogs to the Llamas at last.

"What on earth is THAT on MY field???"

The dogs are not overly happy about the Chelli Llamas - Dicker (now 15 years old!) would love to chase them and Baine wants to have a bit of distance between her and those strange looking creatures. Apparently, some of the dogs in the neighbourhood refused to walk on the road along the field for a day or two!

But at least the Chelli Llamas aren't very fussed about the dogs, just curious:


7. March 2011

We're still in the process of trying to groom the girls properly. We can now brush their necks well and are progressing to the left shoulder and the back, especially with Chiquita. They're not too impressed though…

Obviously they're too cute, so I'm afraid we are a bit too soft with them. Never mind….



29. March 2011

First the bad news:
Last week Wednesday the llamas were chased by a dog and Eldora injured herself in her panic on her nose. (Thankfully, it's healing well!) We informed the police via their website contact form as well as the … let's call them 'responsible people' for the dog, also no reaction so far. As other animals in the area were chased on the same day, several people have contacted the police and also the RSPCA, so we hope this will never happen again! For everybody concerned it has been a very distressing time.

The better news:
We can now brush Cheeky Chiquita all over, including upper (hairy) bits of front AND hind legs!!! Eldora can be brushed all over the top of her body. Only Lindi is now being 'shy' and doesn't like more being brushed than her neck and the front top part of her body. I'm sure it will be ok though once we have the halter on and can be a bit more consistent with the training. I'm quite chuffed though that we can brush them so well without restraint other than the food bowl!



5. April 2011

We have changed the catching pen around a bit, making it smaller, so hopefully we will now be able to halter them! We'll try in earnest from now on. Keep your fingers crossed we're not too 'soft' and keep being patient and consistent with the girls.
We have had quite a few visitors in the last couple of weeks so the three met (and sniffed) a lot of new people. They were photographed a lot, too - and of course cheeky chick Chiquita loves to play to the camera!



6. April 2011

SUCCESS!! All 3 girls had the halter on this evening! Lindi was quite insecure, but ok after a short while, eating her favourite food. Eldora didn't like it at all, but we insisted and she seemed fine afterwards. Cheeky chick Chiquita of course had no problem - once the halter was on, she happily munched away and let both of us (!) brush her all over, we even got rid of all the burrs she still had in the long fur on her hind legs.



16. April 2011

SPRING AWAKENING As usual spring is a time of hard work. Grass is growing like mad and we don't seem to be doing much else than mowing, both on the field and in the garden. We did manage to do the fencing for the 3 piglets moving in tomorrow though.
Thankfully it is light longer now, so that we still have the time for the many walks requested by our 15 yrs old liver and white hero and his 10 yrs old girlfriend.

The poultry and waterfowl is not neglected either - and the llamas would never let themselves be forgotten, they do come running as soon as we get near:

Brushing is getting a bit better again with Eldora, whereas Lindi doesn't want to be brushed at all at the moment. Chiquita still lets herself be haltered, brushed everywhere and we can even wander around a bit with her.

In two days my youngest god daughter is coming for the first time with her mother, a very good old friend. We're very excited (they have never been to England before) and also hope they can help us with the training and socialisation of our three girls!



24. April 2011 EASTER SUNDAY

Last Sunday, we got 3 piglets to fatten up (which made the llamas quite excited) and from Monday my friend and my god daughter were here until Friday. We had a great time. Of course they helped haltering and feeding the llamas. Chiquita can now be led around most of the llama paddock on halter and lead!

In fact, my poor abused friends had to do a lot of work on the field and at home, cleaning out the chicken houses, getting water for the geese and spoiling the pigs - let alone being on near-constant dog-cuddling and walking duty!

../

Sadly, we only got 'mowing machines' after my friends had left! Now some our mate's sheep are back on the big part of the field, 14 ewes with their lambs, doing their grass-cutting job.

The llamas were a bit upset at first, but after one night they are now only nosey (the sheep are surprisingly cool and relaxed about our motley crew!)

And a few more llama-photos:



28 April 2011

Last night, the lambs had their crazy 10 minutes when we were there and did wild races along the lower part of the field - and the llamas took part! Running and bucking, just like the lambs above the fence! It was so cute - and of course we didn't have a camera with us!

I walked Chiquita after the above around the whole llama paddock, giving less food reward on the way than the day before. She walked lovely slightly behind me on a loose lead. Afterwards, at the food bin, I took the halter off (she doesn't even jerk the head away!) and let her munch the rest of the goat mix whilst I was brushing her whole body including the fur down the legs and her 'bum' and tail! She just doesn't mind - in fact it seems as if she positively likes being brushed! It's great considering she's got the most "difficult" fur to keep clean of the three girls!

On 29 April Carol came along to help and to take photos:

Chiquita and the halter:

Chiquita wants her ears scratched:

Walking Chiquita:



8 May 2011

On 2 May I accompanied Caroline with her 3 llamas Hattie (WI llama!), Dudley and Riley (full brother to my Eldora) to the North Somerset Show and showed Riley and Hattie. Riley came first in his age group! :-)

Riley and Dudley
Hattie

We met lots of other llamas, all with the British Llama Society. It was lovely to meet so many llama enthusiasts and we had a great day.

Talking to all these experienced owners at the show made me determined again to get on with the halter training, so Friday night we managed to get all 3 girls haltered! Chiquita as usual no problem at all, Lindi didn't want it, but only hopped around a little bit once haltered and was eating quite happily then. Eldora's nickname is now "drama queen" as she immediately kushed (laid down), jumped up again etc., all designed to make me take the halter off again. It was quite funny as she was obviously not scared, but rather annoyed that we dared doing THAT to her. She calmed down quite quickly though and also decided that munching food is a much better idea. As Carol wasn't with us that day, no photo, sorry! I'll try to get them all to pose with halters on soon.



23 May 2011

We're slowly but definitely making progress! Last night I put the halter on Chiquita and walked around the paddock with her, then let her go. Then the same with Eldora and then with Lindi. The first time I managed to do that quite easily with all three without help from Martin! :-)



28 May 2011

We are now putting the halters on all 3 girls and walk them at the same time! Usually I lead Chiquita and Martin leads Eldora and Lindi. They are coming on in leaps and bounds and I'm so proud of my girls!



10 June 2011

It's been too long, I know. SORRY! I've been ill for a good week, then on holiday and of course, as usual, ever since it's been mayhem at work as well as loads of work at the field. Why do grass and weeds grow so fast??? I never seem to do anything else but strim along the electric "anti-fox" fence so the long grass doesn't empty the battery so quickly.

We have managed to do some more training with the llamas though. The sheep have gone to other pastures, so at first we used that part of the field as training ground until we gave in and let them have the whole lot. They're very happy having such big field to run around in. Not very surprisingly at the moment the girls are very reluctant to come into the catch pen. Too full of grass and hedge!
(The 4th llama belongs to a friend, we're just fostering her for a very short while - she'll be picked up in a couple of days)



7. August 2011

We have managed a couple of times to stand at the road with the llamas to get them used to the traffic, as most cars go by speeding (it's a 30 mph road, but most drivers don't care and go by with 50 mph or faster!). As usual, Chiquita was the coolest one, the other two much easier slightly spooked, although they were all manageable. We're having by far too much to do at the moment to train as often as I'd love to, though.

I have been able to do some felting with the wool of our llamas! Hope you like the little felt llamas!



15 November 2011

Such a long time no update, I'm sorry!
We've been working a lot, loads of mowing and cutting and harvesting, cooking, baking etc. It has been a very good year for plums and apples!!

Also I found a lovely lady in our village who does carding and spinning. She's spun the wool I've been brushing out of the llamas and it turned out brilliantly! She also gave me quite a lot of sheep wool, both for felting and my latest hobby, weaving. That has been keeping me busy, too.

Our foster llama has gone back home (even though we'd have loved to keep her!) and is happy there again.
We still haven't dared going out on the road with the llamas, I hope we'll get helpers this winter to keep the cars at bay! But they are used to wearing their back pack now, so hopefully we will let them help us on the field soon, once we've re-done the fences to make it easier to wander everywhere with them.

On 15 October, Dicker (the Springer Spaniel) had to be put to sleep at the grand old age of 15 years and 8 months. We miss him terribly!

Ducks and chicken are moulting at the moment and not laying many eggs at all. I hope they will all be 'feathered up' again soon!



18 December 2011

Chicken are still not laying at all and the ducks not a lot. Ah well, it's the time of year…

Christmas is fast approaching and I'm doing lots of weaving and felting with my llama wool (and with sheep wool). We're also doing a fair bit of training with the girls which is probably more like us learning llama handling. We're getting there, slowly, but surely! With the help of the cats!! They are not only brilliant vermin control, they are also (if you look closely) "llama herding cats".


Updates can be found here!


J & G Pet Designs E-mail:info@petdesigns.biz Webdesign: Heike Diron Date:04/03/2012