Last spring, we decided that, rather than spend a fortune on lamb milk replacer (powdered milk that we reconstitute), we’d buy a couple of fresh milk goats to feed the bum lambs. Our son Eamon went to Fort Collins to the auction in search of goats. He called us that afternoon and said, “Mom, Dad, I’m bringing home a surprise.” His only hints were that the surprise cost $7.50 and was bigger than a breadbox.
When he unloaded, we found two very nice milking goats and a young female llama. Eamon named her Beulah. Beulah was not our first llama. Some years ago, in an attempt to have a grass-eating (as opposed to dog-food-eating) guardian animal stay with our black-faced sheep, Pat and I purchased a male llama. The black-faces spend the summer in a fenced pasture in the Routt Forest, and are not constantly tended by a herder. Mr. Chips was elegant and aloft, but had zero interest in hanging out with sheep. Turns out he had been used for packing and had likely never seen a sheep. He lived for many years and provided much conversation, but never offered any protective services.
Beulah, on the other hand, took right to the sheep and very happily hung out with them all summer. This fall, we brought her back to the main ranch where she pastured with the odds and ends of sheep that are still around. Today, Eamon came running into the house.
“I have a surprise! Come see!”
We went out to the corral to find Beulah and a newborn cria. We hadn’t even suspected she was pregnant, under her heavy coat. Our Peruvian employees told us that a llama’s gestation period is about eight months, so she must have been bred just before she was sold.
We have just doubled our llama herd. The baby’s name is Maria.