I Llove Llucy

Allow me a brief detour from the Lamb Kit to introduce Llucy, our guard llama. Steve took this picture last lambing season. I was watching a new lamb cavorting when without warning Llucy snuck up behind me, I felt warm damp air on my neck, just barely heard a soft shwoosy sound, and I was nose to nose with my friend.

Llucy and Priscilla

I like retelling the story of Llucy’s arrival at Saltmarsh Ranch. For me, it says a lot about how Soay sheep and their guardians worm their way into our hearts.

We had just gotten our first four Soay when a broadcast e-mail arrived from another Soay breeder looking for someone to take a whole flock (almost 20 as I recall) from a couple who had to find a new home for their Soay sheep quickly for health reasons. There was only one condition: the flock’s guardian llama Llucy was part of the package deal.

What did we know from llamas? We were a couple of greenhorns newly arrived from “back east” in Chicago who thought shepherding consisted of little more than acquiring a few sheep, a pre-battered stonewashed cap from LL Bean, and a set of Pan pipes, with perhaps a shepherd’s crook thrown in for good measure. In short, we were ignorantly giddy at the thought of jump-starting our Soay sheep operation and a llama sounded like a good bonus for a Christmas card picture. We volunteered to take the whole lot of them, including Llucy, with not even a passing glance at the llama literature to see what we were getting ourselves in for.

The sheep arrived late at night in a huge trailer unlike anything we had ever seen. I do not remember whether there was a full moon but let’s say there was for the sake of atmosphere. Backing the trailer down our narrow lane and nestling it up against the gate to the nearest pasture to prevent escapes was quite a trick, but nothing compared to the bravura performance that followed. The driver cautioned us Llucy must come out first or there would be general confusion and panic in the sheep. Fine with us. Llucy came out first. And then began the procession, the remarkable sight of Llucy the second grade teacher, standing on duty at the gangplank, wearing sensible shoes, with her clipboard, on a field trip with her students, checking each Soay sheep off the list with her nose as it came down the ramp. She took roll, and we know to a moral certainty that there would have been hell to pay for the driver if even one of the sheep had turned up missing.

Whatever the disadvantages of having llamas, with or without sheep to guard — and we are told there are such drawbacks — for Steve and me there was no question about the rightness of having Llucy. Any animal so committed to her charges would be a welcome member of our Saltmarsh Ranch menagerie. And so she has remained, faithful to her Soay sheep and utterly endearing to us. May you also have the good fortune to find just the right guardians for your flock!

For now …

1 Enlightened Reply

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  1. Joe and Judy Taylor says:

    Hello there Hope all is well on your wonderful farm. We just finished reading your wonderful “blog” The Soay Sheep Chronicles. The pictures of Lucy llama and her babies are wonderful. It is nice ( finalley.) to see what you and steve look like. It has been two years and counting , since you so grasciously agreed to accept the Soay flock and Lucy , after Kate Montgomery contacted you, AND if there is one thing we KNOW for certain——–Lucy and her babies are right where they are supposed to be. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!!! Thank you for taking such good care of all the sheep and other critters on your farm. Take care Joe and Judy Taylor