Thursday, February 12, 2009

Changing Connections

Meet "The Girls." They are my passion, my avocation, and my future as I change connections and begin a new learning curve and a new blog, Learning Llamas. My odyssey toward llamas seems, as I reflect, a natural extension of having ridden and shown horses competitively for 24 years. While I do not believe that life should be lived age-or-gender specific (I have always worked against the norm), a time comes when balance, judgment, and timing cannot be the sole responsibility of a great packer, a horse that babysits the rider over 4' fences and wide oxers. When my last great equine babysitter died, I felt a void beyond description, and subsequently had several opportunities to be gifted with great bloodlines that did not succeed on the track. That inner voice that speaks to me heeded my husband's concerns that I should seek a different venture.

Several years passed, consoled with loving canine and feline friends, but an empty (and brand new) large barn sat atop a hill, beckoning. Then, two years ago, we wandered to the northern reaches of Pennsylvania to a fiber festival. My husband thought he was going to a fiber optics show, but destiny led us to the Harford Fiber Festival. That was the beginning of my journey toward learning llamas, but I did not know it at the time. Another year passed, and then in spring we received an invitation to an Open Barn at the Buck Hollow Llama Farm. (As a vendor at the fiber festival, Carol had access to people who bid on the silent auctions, which is how she found us). We went, and took my best friend, Jennifer Brinson, with us--to buy fiber. Several hours later, we had fallen irretrievably in love with Tess. She stole our hearts, and as we left Carol Reigh's farm that day, I knew that a piece of my heart was left behind. Two weeks later, my husband bought Tess Allenby for me. After all, she wasn't a horse, I couldn't ride her, and ergo I would have a safe occupant in the beckoning barn. Everyone knows that llamas are herd creatures, so the search for the companion llama began, and late summer we purchased Rev, who was Tess's best friend since they grew up together.

God must have been watching and guiding us on our llama adventure, for we were truly blessed to find Carol Reigh and her llamas. Although we had a barn, we needed to decide actually to use it (versus building a new one, a decision that we belabored perhaps too long, but then, my husband makes all the decisions and he really is always right, so I defer to his judgment). Then came fencing, which kind and contractor (we followed Carol's recommendation and love the final product), and which pastures we should use to work from the barn. We added a roof extension for the girls to kush down under, and by Thanksgiving, the girls were ready to arrive. From April to November, Carol tended to our girls, taking care of them, teaching me when I visited them, helping me with design and layout and a host of decisions. She even shopped for me, outfitting the girls in style. I arrived home from school the day before Thanksgiving, and Carol and the girls were waiting, with a loaner llama who would winter with the girls as their aunt. Well, suffice it to say that for Christmas, my husband bought Miss Cierra, who has taught the girls well and been the greatest aunt of all, and a great guard llama with The Canadian bloodline as part of her gene pool. When Carol said that she would always provide service after the sale, she was true to her word. I have often called or emailed her with questions, and she has always been kind, caring, and generous with her time and knowledge. She is truly, like her llamas, one of a kind.

Turbo Tagger
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