A farewell tribute to Hank, guardian llama for our heritage sheep

Hank waiting for his new ownerOur junior llama, Hank, went to a new home a few days ago and we owe him one more blog post before he fades from our collective memory. Never as storied as his mother Llucy, Hank simply hung out with our British Soay rams in the bull pen and kept them safe from the ever-present coyotes and occasional cougar and bear. He knew his job and he did it well.

By the time he left, Hank was an imposing 8-year-old male with plenty of attitude and the ability to instill respect and a desire for more distance in several of the large visiting male humans who thought they would cozy up to him in the fields. It was not always thus.

For those of you who have never seen a baby llama, much less its arrival in this world, let me tell you, it is both hilarious and not for the faint of heart. If we were crazy to dive into raising Soay sheep with absolutely no experience in farming, much less raising livestock, it was downright lunacy to breed our sweet little female Llucy. The story of how all that occurred and of Hank’s time on our farm is related elsewhere on this blog and I won’t repeat it here, but I will pause while you click over and enjoy the saga of Hank’s arrival and his various fan clubs.

Hank as a young llamaI never could cozy up to Hank, alas, except when he was shorter than I am. Nor could any of our visitors get close to Hank once he grew to his imposing adult size. I had to remind myself he was just doing his job, and that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

There were times when I suspected Hank just didn’t cotton to women, especially when I saw him in the fields with Steve and Shawn. He preferred hanging out with the sheep and our alpha male guardian dog, Luke. On rare occasions, and for reasons we did not understand, Hank would take a notion to romping through the fields with the dogs.

Although finding a good new home for Hank was a necessary part of our downsizing effort, we worried about whether he would be too much for a new owner to handle. Given my history with Hank, I was especially concerned when we got a call from a florist in nearby Ashland who was having cougar issues and needed protection for her sheep and pronto. We insisted she come out and meet Hank before she committed to him.

Hank waits impatiently to be examined by potential new owner While we waited for the prospective buyer to arrive, Hank fussed and stomped impatiently in the loading lane next to our wonderful “Soay Crossing” sign.

We need not have worried. Kellie the florist knew exactly how to approach Hank (from the side, not looking him in the face, sorry no picture!). She calmly took the reins from Shawn and led Hank out into the driveway where she could walk him around. Before we knew it, Hank gave his nuzzle of approval, Kellie loaded him into her trailer, those of us left behind waved or barked our fond farewells, and off Hank went to a new home and new adventures.

Hank and his new buddy Kellie

For now …