Early one morning soon after we had moved to Stockton, I found a dead sheep. I won’t gross you out with details, but from the remains I could tell the sheep had been attacked by a dog or a
coyote. Two weeks later I found another dead sheep. I talked to a local coyote hunter who said our local pack traveled in a large area, but returned about every other week. Unless I
did something, he said I could expect to find a dead sheep every two weeks.
A 19th century farmer with the same problem would have killed any coyote, dog or wolf bothering his livestock using traps, poison, or a good old-fashioned musket.
Instead, I solved the problem with a llama. Moses, my first llama, was on guard from October 2003 until he died in the line of duty in January 2006. Next Simon was on guard, serving for nearly ten years from October 2006 until March 2016. By that time our local coyote population was very low and I didn't bother replacing Simon with a new llama. Big mistake! In the spring of 2018 I started loosing sheep again. It may have been coyotes again, but I found some very large, solitary, canine tracks that made me think it was very likely a wolf. Rockey joined our farm in July of 2018. Friends of Simon will notice that Rockey's coloring is identical to Simon's - they are/were both gorgeous boys! Since Rockey joined our farm the predator attacks have stopped.
As long as I have had a llama on duty not a single sheep has been killed by a predator on my farm.
A guard llama keeps a look-out, rounding the sheep up and running them into the barn when he senses danger. About the size of a small horse, the coyotes think the llama is the biggest sheep they’ve ever seen! My predator-friendly method leaves the coyotes unharmed and free to roam the rest of the property, but they know to stay away from Simon and the sheep.
Llamas are well-known as fiber producing animals in South America, and when I shear the sheep Simon gets sheared as well. However, llama fiber is a recent “discovery” among North Americans, and a llama would not have been part of a typical 18th, 19th or early 20th century Midwestern American farmer’s homestead. Simon's fiber is kept separate from the sheep wool and is not added to any of my yarns, since llama fiber would not be a historically correct part of an 18th, 19th or early 20th century woman’s knitting basket.
Lydia Maria Child
The American Frugal Housewife, 1832
Suzy the Shepherdess
Suzy Beggin Craft
P.O. Box 54
Stockton, IL 61085 U.S.A.
Phone: 815 541-0897