Carnac tells us about llama trekking
Now that I am three years old I am an experienced trekking llama. We have lots of lovely visitors to the farm and everyone wants to spend time with us. Shall I tell you all about our treks?
We have regular habits and our people are happy to work with this. Waking up in the field as it gets light we like to walk around eating some of the dew-laden green grass and after an hour or two of this we mooch on up the track to the yard for a spell of gentle contemplation. Our people greet us. They may have very kindly put out the odd flake of hay just to give us a little drier material and we appreciate this. Whilst we lie and ruminate on life, our people close the gate to the yard and we realise that in a while some trekking two-legs will be appearing for their lovely llama experience.
People line up at the gate and exclaim how tall we are which I think means they have confused us with our little cousins the alpacas. Entering the yard, it is only natural that we should want to check out these new two-legs, and this we do by stretching our long necks out for sniffs of hands. We gently move around and soon the people are surrounded by us as we have a good look. Mind you, it is only mild curiosity and after a while some of us stroll off to look at something else. I am known as a chatty lad and I will stand in the yard humming. At first I hum to myself, but my hums get louder as I like everyone to know I am there.
Our people liven things up when they suggest we might like to eat some tasty cereal and we bundle into the pen in the barn pretty quickly where the good stuff has been put out for us. The llama trekkers follow us in and watch as we eat. After a few minutes all the food is gone and our people demonstrate correct haltering. They like their guests to fit our halters and all of us who are going for a trek – it could be just three or perhaps six or seven or more – stand and assist the two-leg to put our halters on. Two-Leg, the trick is this! Hold the rope with its attached halter in two outstretched hands and with the halter end in your right hand. Walk towards my left side and say ‘Carnac, Stand!’ quite firmly. Being a well-trained and amenable fellow I do as I am told, so the trekker can put the rope around the back of my neck and loop it round the front to hold both ends of the rope in one hand. Then, standing at my left shoulder so we are both facing forwards, the trekker arranges the halter with the brass attachments at the bottom, the buckle on the left and the long strap on the right. Reaching around the back of my neck the two leg fits the open part of the halter over my lovely delicate nose so it is quite close to my eyes. I don’t want my nostrils compressed by the halter as I can only breathe through my nose and not my mouth. The strap on the halter is fitted and the buckle done up. My rope is tied to a rail. Easy Peasy! The llama always helps put his or her nose in the halter and really will show the trainee two-leg what to do.
Grooming follows, and as we were sheared in May of this year our coats are short and easy to brush with a soft brush. In a couple of months our coat will have grown out enough for us to have a currycomb brush used on us. Brushing is easy and to make it lovely and calm for people and llamas, I like it when the two-leg holds the brush in one hand and alternately grooms my neck with brush and hand. I’m a fairly bouncy chap and I may not want the two-leg to be too vigorous, but I will let you groom my body. If I start to fidget, just move back to my neck and start grooming there again. It doesn’t take long and grooming isn’t so much about making me look stunningly handsome (which is not hard), but more a gentle interaction between two- and four-leg so we understand one another.
Llama treks take the form of llama and person being matched so we’ll enjoy the walk together. Our people suggest llamas should be in charge of 11 year old and younger children and we ask for an adult person to walk with each child. Each person holds a rope tied to our halters and this works very well. Llamas walk solo with people of 12 and above. We know the route and can show them the way.
Different treks have different people on them. Here you can see me with Brodgar, Moai, Kilpeck Castle and Stonehenge, and our very good friends Jo, Ian, Laura and Gary. When we set off we always question our people and ask them how far we are going, as sometimes we might simply be training in the yard. So, we aren’t sure we are leaving the farm, but once this has been established, we happily bundle out of the farm entrance and stroll off down the hill. If it is dry we take the route through the field and out of the gap at the bottom of the farm, but if wet we stick to the road and take a keen interest in the farm animals in the fields we pass.
In our village we will probably stop a few times. Our friends will want to stroke our necks and we are happy with this when we are stopped though less certain when we are walking. Passing people will stop to say ‘Hello, Llamas’ which we like and we take one of several routes through the village.
We usually hike up the hill to Ewyas Harold Common and once we have passed the cattle grid we take the narrow path right up onto the Common. This joins a track and then we veer off onto the wider paths of the Common. When the path is wide we like to stroll alongside each other and you will often see three or four of us walking abreast on the top of the hill. It is very lovely up there and we always make the point of stopping for pictures with our friends. You can see Jo and Ian with Stonehenge and Brodgar and Laura and Gary with Kilpeck Castle and Moai here.
We enjoy the views and look intently at the bushes as we pass them – you can’t be too careful and we like to keep a check on fearsome wild beasts like jaguars or pumas or suchlike, but it’s usually only Rex or Rover we see. Everyone is happy as we turn for home and walk on new tracks. We pass the cattle grid and trot down the hill to the village where we might choose to pass the school or the Church. We have visited both before and were very well behaved when we saw the schoolchildren and the parishioners.
We take the road up to the farm and are happy to walk back through the gap to where we can eat hazel, blackthorn, dogwood, maple, rose, bramble, nettle and all the other tasty treats in the hedge. My favourite is elm. Back in the yard we are rewarded with cereal for our good manners and companionship and we are pleased to be home for we love to see our fellow-four-legs.
Our two-leg friends pop into the shop and see our female person’s lovely llama wool rugs and cushions and learn about the joys of shearing, spinning and weaving.
We llamas eat.
More news from Golden Valley Llamas soon