The Other Llama

Crackerjack has been getting so much attention, being center stage with the lambs all spring. Some of you have asked about Caitlyn, Crackerjack's counterpart and co-guardian of the flock. She's on assignment in the upper pasture with a flock of 40 yearlings and ewes. The group has the run of a 15 acre pasture rimmed by stone walls. There's a shaded lane that runs along the fence line and serves our access road for daily trips up the hill with water. The group has a southeast facing shelter that shades them and protects from prevailing winds and many trees for shelter. It's a lovely outpost with a 60 mile view of Mt. Monadnock.


My two llamas couldn't be more different. Catilyn is responsible for patrolling the fence line and staring down any canid that dares to approach the flock. We once tried casting her in the role of lamb nanny, and quickly found her unfit for lamb nannihood (which surprised us since we were told she had been an excellent mother).  She really didn't care for lambs prancing about her legs (llamas can be really touchy about their legs) and I was concerned she might kick them. 

Since then Catilyn has been re-assigned to guard the adults, though I suspect she is mainly looking out for herself, which by default also means she's looking out for the sheep. A former show llama, she is a complete diva. She came to us as  10 year old with no previous sheep contact and it took her a while to "adjust" to sheep company. I still think she is rather indifferent to the sheep and have seen her spit on any ewe who crowds her at the feeder. As a guardian she has a rather "lazy-faire" approach. I'll sometimes find her napping in the shed while the flock is spread about high on the hillside behind her.


Another difference between Caitlyn and Crackerjack is in their vocalizing. Crackerjack shows concern by humming softly (hmmmm, hmmmm, hmmmmm), and he'll do this out of concern whenver he senses we're about to perform sheep maintenance or alter the routine in some way. When he's majorly stressed the humming gets louder, more insistent and higher in pitch: HMMMMM, HMMMMM, HMMMMM, A-HMMMMM!

Caitlyn seldom hums but when she spies an "emergency" (like the neighbor's cows getting too close to our fence line, or a stray cat in the yard) she sounds the alert with a really weird bugle call that is unlike any other sound in nature, kind of like a cross between a wild turkey and a mastodon. We had never heard a llama bugle before Caitlyn came along. In fact the first time she bugled  we couldn't figure out what was making the odd noise. The sheep have learned to heed her warnings and duck for cover.
Someone recently asked a very good question about why we don't keep our two llamas together. While that might make sense – Cracker could tend to the little ones while Caitlyn could keep watch for rogue cats -the scenario is problematic for several reasons. First of all, Caitlyn pushes Crackerjack around – which really bothers me. He's gentleman and doesn't deserve it. Secondly, if the llamas were together, they might tend to stick together forming a llama club, and spend less time with the sheep. Lone llamas do better as guardians, at least in theory.

Now you know a little more about Caitlyn. Would anyone care to start a fan club for her?

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