Thursday, November 1, 2012

Adding llamas to the farmstead

This week has been about llamas. Getting more llamas. Having them delivered. Setting up more fence, and thinking about what to do next.

We have been in the process of acquiring four female llamas. There were seven available, but I decided if we were going to have to buy feed, it should be for the younger ones who are at reproductive age. We settled on three young girls under a year and one mama to one of the crias who is seven months old.

Richard built a hay feeder out of pallets that will hold a bale of hay.

pallet hay feeder

And, while we waited for the girls to arrive, he put a new trailer hitch on the van that also showed up via UPS. We ordered the hitch online, and it came just in time for us to get a load of water before our cisterns run dry. We have not had any moisture in this desert land, ironically, while we watch the northeast United States recover from Hurricane Sandy and the over abundance of moisture they have received. I would not want that kind of flooding, nor that kind of damage to deal with. I am glad we chose to stay in the Rocky Mountains when we decided to move. I wish everyone the best of luck in recovering.

hitch on van

The new llama ladies arrived in a big fancy horse trailer. I could see it ambling across the dusty road, heading towards our place, and I yelled at Richard, "The llamas are coming!"  The kids and I could hardly contain our excitement. It is always so much fun to have new animals come to the farm.

Arrival of new llamas.

It was quite a challenge to get the llama girls out of the trailer and into their new yard. They had never been in a trailer, and weren't real fond of the harnesses, which unfortunately didn't fit real well. We only have large harnesses here on our little farm, and no access to a store with llama gear. But, we got the harnesses (adjusted as small as they would go) and leads on and proceeded to pull and push the frightened critters into their new yard, taking breaks now and them to let them (and us) adjust and relax for a minute.

Meet and greet.

The boys were very curious about the new ladies, and all came running to introduce themselves over the fence that now separates them. After the girls were released, they quickly found the hay bucket and got to eating. There wasn't too much nervous humming that went on, and overall, I think everyone handled the arrival pretty well. We've got our work cut out, with training these girls to lead and load into the trailer, not to mention just get used to human handling so we can brush them and trim their nails, and one day milk them.

Llama girls.

Paddie the cria.

So today, I find myself researching how to clean and card llama wool. This past week I also found a set of carders on Craigslist for really cheap, and a friend picked them up in Santa Fe on her monthly shopping trip to the "big" city. (Thank you Susan!)

Hand carders.

I am almost ready to get out the bags of stored wool I have been hauling around, and deal with it. And, I'm not so afraid of it, having watched countless videos on You tube on how to clean the wool and card it. So happy for the internet.

Bags of llama wool.

I am so looking forward to the day when we can be on our own land, with a barn for the animals and places to do all of the things we want to do.

Haven't had much interest from other parents about helping out with the cost of the "llama dairy." I guess we will proceed ahead by ourselves and hope at some point other people will want to join in. In any case, our kids will benefit from this little experiment, I hope. I am eager to get these girls bred and get on with it, but we can't really breed them until Spring, when the weather is warm enough to support baby llamas. The girls will be in gestation for one year, and all of them will be at a healthy breeding age come Spring. That also gives up time to find an intact male to breed them with.

One step at a time. One day at a time. It is taking shape.