Many people ask how we got started with llamas. It all started over 20 years ago at the local Bluemont Fair with a little, cream colored, Angora bunny, named Peter. I fell in love and presented this little fluffball to my 8 year old daughter. I had always been an animal lover and rabbits were nothing new, but this one was special!
My daughter proceeded to join the 4H rabbit club and our journey into the 4H world began. Little did we know how valuable these 4H friendships would become in the future!
Being craft oriented, I longed to get creative with Peter’s soft luxurious fiber. I signed up for spinning lessons with the farm he had come from. This opened up a whole new world. Our two Angoras became many, and I worked at spinning this soft fluff into yarn. From there I learned to spin and dye sheep’s wool. This, of course, led to our acquiring a bottle-fed lamb to add to the menagerie of goats, horses, dogs, and cats. Three years down the road with two more bottle babies and our sheep herd was complete. My spinning flowed into learning to weave and a new career “loomed” on the horizon!
After many trips to various fiber forums and festivals, I was beginning to lean toward adding a few alpacas to the farm. Their soft fiber and fluffy faces reminded me of the little rabbit that had started me on this journey, and their clean fleeces needed little processing. However,at that time, the initial investment of an alpaca did not fit into our budget. Through 4H, however, I was introduced to a llama club. Many of the llamas had fiber just as nice as the alpacas and they were more in our price range. After all, we weren’t looking for an investment, just a few pets. When we finally purchased two geldings, however, our bubble burst. The breeder we purchased from set us up with these two boys and then disappeared over the horizon. Thinking they were little more than over-large sheep, I wasn’t too concerned at first – but our sheep were friendly and these two boys wouldn’t let me get within 3 feet! I was extremely frustrated and vowed to learn as much as I could about llamas in general and how to manage them.
Through that 4H club, we had met some others who were involved in the llama world and our education process began. After a year of learning about llama behavior and attending a few llama shows, we were hooked. We learned how to move and communicate with “The Boys” and they learned not to fear us. These animals not only had beautiful fiber to work with, they had very agreeable personalities too! We could actually lead them around and they stood still at shearing time! The llamas were so easy to care for, once we understood their “personal space” issues that we decided to add a few females to our fiber herd.
That initial herd of 5 has grown to over 30 now and we still find them just as amazing as in the beginning. The “pets” became a business. Our main focus at the beginning was breeding and sales, but fiber and attitude topped the the list in our quest for desirable attributes to pass on to new generations. Through the llama industry we have met many wonderful people who, like ourselves, have had their lives changed forever by these special creatures. We feel that education about llamas is more important than the sale itself. Our llamas have very individual personalities and we want them to have the best care at all times. We worked to match prospective owners with the right llama or llamas for their circumstances. We also tried very hard to provide new owners with as much support as possible to ensure they and the llamas were happy and healthy. This morphed into working with Camelidynamics and passing on the valuable knowledge we acquired there.
Life has moved on as children have left for greener pastures of their own. After struggling for several years with the effects of Lyme disease, producing more llamas to sell became a thing of the past. Most of our llamas are now getting up in years and I have promised them all that they will live out their lives with us on the farm. They still bring us much joy and make every day a little brighter. They are also still producing all that lovely fiber every year! So now I am much more focused on the fiber part of the business. We are in the process of collecting old traditional spinning wheels, looms and other fiber processing tools with the hope of opening a sharing center sometime in the future.
Let us introduce you to the wonderful world of llamas.