Monday, October 27, 2008

Llamas are Llove

Over the last two months I’ve gotten the chance to get to know the citizens of Calypso Farm, owned by Kim and John Peters. Llamas, alpacas, camels, miniature goats, doggies and Portia the pig are just a few of the delightful animal friends there.

My first visit was on Labor Day. I had found Kim’s website in Wild Fibers magazine, and emailed her to find out if I could visit and see llamas in person. I love llama and alpaca yarn, and was really curious to find out more about these camelids. Kim kindly said yes, and I drove over, finding that the farm was only about 15 minutes from my home. In fact, my family and I had driven past her farm dozens of times on the way to the movie theater. We often see the llamas grazing in their field: Kim’s front lawn.

Kim walked me about her 20-odd acre place, which was neat and tidy. She does all the work herself with a helper that comes by once or twice a week. The animals are friendly and happy, and reach out to meet you. I first met the camels, which are QUITE large. They put down their huge faces to take a sniff and say hello. I met the miniature Nigerian goats with their strange slitted pupils and tiny bleats, including Desiree, who was hand-raised by Kim and acts more like a little dog-person than a goat, and follows momma Kim all over the place if she gets the chance.

Finally, the llamas. We walked right out into the middle of a herd of females. I was a little afraid but then relaxed as I saw how friendly and gentle they were. Llamas have beautiful faces and ears, which are curved like bananas. They only have top teeth. They like to be petted on their necks and backs, but not their heads. Llamas make delightful humming sounds when they are happy and contented. Many came right up to me, face to face, and “huffed” their breath on me. Kim explained this was their way of saying hello—and saying they accepted me. Delightful!

Llama hair is soft and fibrous. Kim sells yarn made from her llama children’s coats and I was able to purchase some. I’ve finally decided to knit some of it up in a Moebius scarf as patterned by Cat Bordhi in her book, A Treasury of Magical Knitting.

I was also able to see Kim’s alpaca herds. Alpacas are also camelids but their ears are straight and their bodies’ smaller than llamas. They, too, are kind and gentle but a bit more skittish. Their hair is especially fine and silky, softer than llama hair.

Several weeks later, Kim sent me an email telling me that some “crias” (baby llamas and alpacas) had been born! I drove out soon after to have a look-see.

These babies are small and precious, all legs but feisty within hours of being born. They stay close to mom but are also tended by the other females, who are honorary aunties. John Peters caught up one of the alpaca babies, who stared at us through huge, friendly eyes. Momma wasn’t too keen on having her baby caught like that, and followed John at a small distance, making anxious sounds. But Baby didn’t mind in the least. The hair on this tiny one was as soft as down. Heavenly.

Another baby, a dark-haired llama, had been born with floppy ears that were pinned up with tape so they would grow into their correct banana shape. This llama (who is aiming at being named “Trouble”) ran along the fence, pacing my VW bug as I drove up, then ran off into the herd, scattering some of his aunts who seemed annoyed at his energy. This little fellow will grow up to be a lively one!

In the house, Kim and her husband have several Japanese chin dogs (their eyes will melt you) among others, as well as a pot belly pig named Portia, who lives on their porch. Portia’s kind of shy, but she warmed to me in a bit and I was able to feed her apples. It was fun to scratch her bristles and her grunts of happiness were wonderful. Apparently she also watches TV on the sofa with her people.

I hope to make more visits. Calypso Farm is a peaceful and happy place, and its gentle pace will slow you down. If you are in the Chicago area, call Kim and ask for a tour. You won’t regret it!

To see all my llama pictures, please visit my flickr gallery!


Holly said...

Oooh, they are so cute! How lucky you got to see them all! said...

AHH they are so adorable! I want one but I probably can't cram one in my apt... :(

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