I did my homework when it came to raising goats. Acquiring a guardian animal – something that will at least alert us to any nearby danger (if not insert itself between its protected and the danger) – was noted as a darned good idea, perhaps even a necessity. But what type of guardian? A dog? Several dogs? A donkey, perhaps? How about a llama?!
Guardian farm dogs live in the field 24/7 with the animals they guard and require very little training, depending on who you ask. Also depending on who you ask, a dog just go after a precious member of your herd, or at the very least, try for a chicken. Of course you need a big dog (or dogs), and big dogs like Pyrenees, for example, have short life spans, say 4 – 8 years. A dog is not fully mature until it is about 2, and if old age strikes at 6 or so, let’s see, that’s maybe 4 good guardian years. Not so crazy about the dog idea.
Donkeys apparently make good guardians. And they are rather cute. My computer at work was a picture of three adorable, smiling donkeys, and it always made me smile. They certainly make a lot of noise. They are guaranteed to sound the alarm in the event of an intruder, and they are big (the neighbor has a mammoth donkey; trust me, it’s huge) and scary looking. Also, they are somewhat of a novelty, and they have a much longer life span than a dog, as much as 30 – 50 years. Okay, maybe a donkey. Maybe the donkey can take care of us when we are old and gray.
What about a llama? Well, llamas are large (I didn’t realize just how large), they do make occasional noise (they hum!), and they spit. Definitely a novelty. Average life span? 15 – 25 years. Odds are in my favor to out live the llama. Llama fiber makes great sweaters – it’s always good to have a dual-purpose animal. Most importantly, llamas are said to make good guardians, but geez, I don’t know….a llama?
So off we went to visit Charlotte at The Llamas of Bella Casa to find out more. Charlotte was a most gracious and patient host when my son and I first went to visit over a year ago, asking a thousand questions. Charlotte was a most gracious and patient host when I went back for a second visit with my husband months later, asking a thousand questions. Charlotte was understanding that adopting a llama for our new farm was a big decision, and I wanted to make sure that it was a good decision. When we went back a third time, again months later, and saw that Vivi was one of the two recommended by Charlotte as potential guardian, it was love at first sight.
Oh, and don’t get in the way at feeding time. She will spit on her little charges to warn them out of her way. She got me once – right in the face! Let me tell you, that was some nasty spit, too! The equivalent of getting skunked, but thankfully not anywhere near as long-lasting.
Now I make sure that she knows that while she is in charge of the goats, I am in charge of her.
Vivi is amazing!