Back in 2015, as we were in the planning stages of our alpaca journey, we knew we would need some type of livestock guardian. There are many possibilities, i.e. guard dogs, donkeys, llamas. Based on the area we lived in and the potential predators in our area, we decided on llamas. They eat the same feed and get shorn at the same time, don’t make a lot of noise and wouldn’t upset the neighbors. Our first llamas added to the herd were boys. It wasn’t until we started adding girls that we introduced Ebony.
Ebony was born 8/22/2001. She was a good guardian but was always a little standoffish. Our first meeting with her, she had just been shorn. It was an incredibly bad haircut and we were told that she was pretty uncooperative with shearing. That information gave us quite a bit of anxiety as the next shearing rolled around, especially since llamas are considerably larger than alpacas. Ebony surprised us all as she walked like a champ to the shearing mat, got her haircut and never made a peep. It was then that we realized Ebony was a regal lady. She just didn’t have time for shenanigans.
Ebony’s job initially was overseeing the maternity ward. When we have bred females and new cria, we have them in a separate pen and pasture. It didn’t take us long to realize this was not the right environment for Ebony. We caught her on several occasions chasing the babies out of the feed troughs! We swapped her to the adult female pen and there she presided the rest of her days. Ebony kept things orderly. She had her own special trough that she always ran to and waited for supper. As Ebony began to slow down, we added another female llama guardian so that Ebony could spend more time resting. She was the head of the morning ladies breakfast club. All the older females know that if the hang around in the morning; they can talk Marcus into giving them a light breakfast. What a lovely, stalwart addition she always was to our herd. Ebony passed away after a brief illness on March 31,2023. It is always such a sad time on the farm when we lose an animal… Especially a longtime friend. RIP Ebony, you are already missed!
Stacey Skildum is a nurse turned farmer, a yarn snob, gardener and fiber artist.