[lit-ideas] Re: Thereabouts

  • From: Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 16 May 2016 06:32:29 -0700


In regard to llamas, I think we Westerners aren't as good with them as the Incans were. Here is Wikipedia:

/"Llamas, which are well-socialized and trained to halter and lead after //weaning <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weaning>//, are very friendly and pleasant to be around. They are extremely curious and most will approach people easily. However, //llamas that are bottle-fed <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berserk_llama_syndrome>//or over-socialized and over-handled as youth will become extremely difficult to handle when mature, when they will begin to treat humans as they treat each other, which is characterized by bouts of spitting, kicking and neck wrestling.//^[citation needed <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citation_needed>] /


/"When correctly reared, llamas spitting at a human is a rare thing. Llamas are very social herd animals, however, and do sometimes spit at each other as a way of disciplining lower-ranked llamas in the herd. A llama's social rank in a herd is never static. They can always move up or down in the social ladder by picking small fights. This is usually done between males to see which will become dominant. Their fights are visually dramatic, with spitting, ramming each other with their chests, neck wrestling and kicking, mainly to knock the other off balance. The females are usually only seen spitting as a means of controlling other herd members./


/"While the social structure might always be changing, they live as a family and they do take care of each other. If one notices a strange noise or feels threatened, a warning bray is sent out and all others become alert. They will often hum to each other as a form of communication./


/"The sound of the llama making groaning noises or going "mwa" is often a sign of fear or anger. If a llama is agitated, it will lay its ears back. One may determine how agitated the llama is by the materials in the spit. The more irritated the llama is, the further back into each of the three stomach compartments it will try to draw materials from for its spit. . . ."


/"Using llamas as livestock guards in North America began in the early 1980s, and some sheep producers have used llamas successfully since then.//^[26] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llama#cite_note-26> //^[27] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llama#cite_note-Geo-27> //They are used most commonly in the western regions of the //United States <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States>//, where larger predators, such as coyotes and feral dogs, are prevalent. Typically, a single gelding (castrated male) is used./


/"Research suggests the use of multiple guard llamas is not as effective as one. Multiple males tend to bond with one another, rather than with the livestock, and may ignore the flock. A gelded male of two years of age bonds closely with its new charges and is instinctively very effective in preventing predation. Some llamas appear to bond more quickly to sheep or goats if they are introduced just prior to //lambing <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambing>//. Many sheep and goat producers indicate a special bond quickly develops between lambs and their guard llama and the llama is particularly protective of the lambs./

/"Using llamas as guards has reduced the losses to predators for many producers. The value of the livestock saved each year more than exceeds the purchase cost and annual maintenance of a llama. Although not every llama is suited to the job, most are a viable, nonlethal alternative for reducing predation, requiring no training and little care.//"//

/My "plan" in this regard would be to get a single male as a "cria", train him to halter, have him gelded at age 2 and use him as a pack animal and secondarily as a guard for whatever animals I have in the back yard. I suspect that if he goes on regular hikes with us he'll be friendly enough. My son's ex-wife got a llama (as well as a bunch of other animals) when they lived in Apple Valley and he behaved similar to the way your friend's llama did, but llamas live a long time compared to dogs and if you get one as an adult you don't know what his history is.

My alternative would be to get a "guardian-type" dog. There is a breeder in Missoula who raises Kangal (aka Anatolian Shepherd) dogs. But if I got one of these I'd want him to spend time in the house as well as outside and have him go on hikes with us. One hears reports of bad behavior from these as well but if I got one as a pup he should be okay.

I'll be going up there initially with just the dogs I will have: Ben (129 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback), Duffy (23.5 pound Schnoodle -- was previously Susan's lap dog), and Jessica (an Irish Terrier arriving by air freight the first week in June). I bought Jessica one week before deciding to move. I had always wanted one of these (Susan did not); so Jessica will have been my first possibly-emotional decision made not quite a year after Susan's loss. Jessica will be one to worry about once I get up there. Irish Terriers are fearless and are known for going after predators far larger than they are. They aren't as cautions as Rhodesian Ridgebacks (or schnoodles).

Yeah, if you want to make the trip Sandpoint sometime you'll be welcome. I plan to get a place with a house large enough for visiting relatives and guests. I should have enough money to accomplish my plans as long as I'm not too extravagant and as long as property values don't change too much between now and then (estimated month of move is April 2017 due to my son -- who plans to take charge of my move -- not being able to be ready until then).

As Bobby Burns wrote, "the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglee." And as the stoics wrote "desire" is the root of all our evils. Believing both, more or less, I am trying not to be overly confident about the move or desire it too much in case something were to happen forcing me to remain in San Jacinto. Susan picked this house out in 1998 and got me an excellent study with a nice view of the mountains. I subsequently planted several trees frequented by all sorts of birds which I can also see out my study windows. I took some photos out one a few months back of a hawk ripping something apart and eating it -- looking as malevolent the while as I've seen anything look -- made me think of Ted Hughes and suspect him once again of bad behavior -- not like your llama (and my hawk) -- also he never had wild life in England to approach what we have here in the west -- and if he desired it as much as he seemed to, why did he remain in civilized and places making his wives (none of whom were as wild as wolves, coyotes and even llamas here in the West) miserable?



On 5/15/2016 10:27 PM, Ed Farrell wrote:

Sandpoint, that's way up in the north. Great country, if I remember it right. 
Cold, though but Lake Pend Oreille may moderate that some. Llamas are great 
guard dogs and they aren't friendly. A close friend uses a llama to protect her 
pygmy goats from coyotes. He's complacent enough when you approach him with 
food in your hand, but otherwise his general suspicion moves in easy stages to 
hostility and even her horses give him a wide berth.

Compared to San Jacinto, it's not all that far from Bellingham, either.

Ed Farrell
Very early morning in St. Petersburg

Sent from my iPad

On May 16, 2016, at 2:05 AM, Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

I wouldn't want it thought that I am moving to Sandpoint Idaho just so I can 
acquire chickens and compete with David Ritchie. This is only a plan and not 
quite a sure thing -- the move I mean not the chicken acquiring because if 
things do go according to plan a chicken coop will definitely go up on my 
property. Furthermore, I was responsible for getting eggs away from a fierce 
Rhode Island Red Rooster before David Ritchie was born.

I was warned to wait a year after losing Susan before moving to demonstrate 
that I was not moving for emotional reasons.  I'm not sure how that works, but 
I never wanted to stay in California after I retired and only did so because 
Susan didn't want to leave her parents (who lived in Indio).  Sandpoint, if I 
am going to move and I certainly hope to, is fixed by two daughters, a 
grandson, two grand-daughters and four great grand-children living there.  I've 
been pouring over real estate descriptions of properties and have noticed that 
if I am willing to locate a little further away, in Sandpointean terms, I can 
afford five to ten acres near a National Forest.

I've learned that people with five to ten acres in the Sandpoint region control 
their weeds with llamas and goats.  I like the idea of getting a llama.  Not 
only will a llama protect my chickens but I can load one up as a pack animal 
for hikes.  They will carry 20 pounds per 100 pounds of body weight; so a 300 
to 400 pound llama should be able to carry as much as I would want to take on a 
hike.  Depending upon how agreeable the llama was, we might do some 
overnighters in the forest.  On the other hand, if the coyotes and wolves 
(wolves are protected in Idaho) have their eye on my chickens they might take 
advantage of our absence and hop our fence.  I may have to stick to day hikes 
or build a wolf-proof chicken pen.

As a kid it was my job to go into the chicken coop each morning for eggs.   
Neither my mother, grandmother, nor sister were willing because the rooster 
would go after their legs, but I wore Levi's and the rooster couldn't hurt me.  
I wonder now to what extent that rooster influenced me.  I had (or developed) a 
reputation as a risk-taker, didn't mind diving where there were sharks and 
don't mind hiking amidst coyotes.  I do not plan to be deterred by the wolves, 
but any risk will be reduced by my llama, Rhodesian Ridgeback and a couple of 
other dogs.  I gave some thought to acquiring another Rhode Island Red rooster 
for that purpose, but he'd probably just ride up on my llama and watch. They 
aren't all that helpful as I recall.


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