Llama on the Lam

May 9, 2008

alvar field

Field with friendly llama. No, wait…

Some years ago, my brother Keith and his family were living on a hobby farm, trying their hand, after work and on weekends, at raising some roasts and wings. Their agricultural methods were gleaned from several sources: tales Dad told of his teen-year summers working on a farm, advice from the rural neighbours, and books and magazines.

This last resource encouraged Keith and his wife to order exotica like Texas longhorn cattle or frizzled cochin chickens. The year they were considering a few sheep, they read of the benefits of owning a llama. The llama would cry out in warning if it saw a coyote, and if the coyote were foolish enough to get any closer, the llama would kick it. Here was an eco-friendly solution to a common predator, and scoring high on the exotica scale to boot.

And so, my brother kept a llama on his farm for a while. A short while. Maybe fifteen minutes or so. As soon as it was let out into the field, this llama decided that the grass was greener over the next fence — and over the next one, and the next, and the next.

At first, my brother ran after the beast, but when it wouldn’t stop, Keith trotted back for the pick-up truck. He pursued the llama for miles, impressed with its stamina, but finally lost sight of it. Damn. Keith went home and printed up ads to post on telephone poles. He phoned all the neighbours he knew, asking them to keep a lookout for the stupid so-and-so — he had paid a pretty penny for it, and it wasn’t exactly wearing a collar and licence.

After no word for days, finally someone called the house. There was a llama in his back field, he reported. With mixed feelings of exultation and vengeance, my brother hopped in his pick-up and drove the five miles to the caller’s home.

The other fellow came out, greeted Keith, and walked him around back. The two men looked on in companionable silence a moment, each deep in his own thoughts of rural life. Then Keith spoke. “That’s not my llama.”