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.

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I mean, look at that face! That face gives kisses!

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Vivi is very inquisitive and attentive, and she takes her job very seriously.

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Make no mistake, Vivi is in charge!

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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.

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Vivi is amazing!


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