Holiday Llama Adventures
or Answers to Questions That Bother Me So!
by Ron Shinnick
Sometimes I wonder if there has ever been a more perplexing question for the general public with regards to Llamas, "What do you do with a Llama?" People really seem to struggle with it. We have certainly become used to seeing our llamas day in and day out and we just take the whole thing for granted now. You know what I mean, the ears, the long necks, the beautiful eyes and faces, the soft, silky fiber, etc . . . I know that the root of this whole problem is simply a lack of education about the species. Believe it or not, and I'm convinced of this now more than ever, most folks aren't sure if they fly, lay eggs, leap buildings in a single bound or whatever. On the other hand, as llama owners have there ever been a more annoying question for us to deal with. I know at first it is sort of fun, but after the millionth time being asked at the state fair you start questioning your own sanity. Just the other day for instance, and this is the truth, someone asked me how many eggs they laid. At that moment, I wasn't sure if I should just slap them or just ignore the question completely. Or just say, To tell you the truth, I'm not sure how many they lay!
That having been said, and yes, I do feel better now, this past Christmas Season has been a wonderful illustration for our family of what you can do with llamas. As we participated in these various Holiday events, it became quite clear to me that what we were doing was a living illustration and example of what you can do with llamas. And by doing these things we, for the most part, avoided the dreaded question because people were able to see llamas doing something.
We were quite fortunate this past holiday season to have the pleasure of participating with many of our good friends, by the way that includes both llamas and people, in several parades and one rather large Christmas Play. They were all wonderful and fun events. Everywhere we went, everyone was surprised by how well the llamas behaved (indoors and outdoors . . . including no bathroom accidents indoors), how much the llamas enjoyed the events, and all the people and all the sights and sounds of these events. And guess what, no questions about what you do with a llama . . . because they could actually see the llamas in action. Thank Goodness?
One of the pluses of llama ownership is you also get to travel to new places and do new things you never expected, anticipated or sometimes even imagined. The first of these little holiday llama adventures started with a trip to South Georgia and to the Historic town of Plains, Georgia. The Peanut Capitol of the World, home of our 39th President Jimmy Carter and more importantly, home of the only cart driving guy in the entire town, H.C. Harvey and his wife Trish. You have to understand that H.C. and his driving llamas are nearly as famous in this town as the ex-president and the secret service agents. In fact, the President has even taken a ride with H.C. and his llamas. There was of course no room for the secret service agents. Sorry guys! Anyway, Downtown Plains was packed with people waiting for the start of this annual event. As H.C. and I drove our llamas through the crowded streets, It sort of reminded me of the old time Christmas scenes in the movies with all the old buildings, homes, lights, the Park and the train. That's right just before the start of the parade, a passenger train rolled into town packed with tourist from the nearby town of Cordele, which added even more folks to line the already over flowing streets of Plains. It was a beautiful Christmas scene, especially from the vantage point of riding in a llama cart. The whole thing really put you in the Christmas spirit. My only regret was the parade was just too short. Downtown Plains is not that big. But we had a great time anyway, and everyone loved the llamas. Probably one of the most popular entries in the parade.
Just as an educational side note if you ever visit Plains. After the parade it took me a while to locate my wife. She was shopping/visiting in all the old stores etc . . . By the way, really friendly folks in Plains too. In trying to find her I discovered that you can do a lot more with peanuts than just using peanut butter for P.B. & J's sandwiches. A whole lot more in fact. Like I said, just another llama adventure.
Our next adventure/parade was a much shorter trip from our home to the mountains of North Georgia to the town of Ellijay. We were joined by a whole host of llama folks including Sam and Frank Rise, Susan Raven, Mike Hartke, Cindy and Tommy from Pearson Pond Ranch, Susan Raven and several others all joined in on the festivities. It seems that in recent years the area in and around Ellijay has turned into somewhat of llama Mecca for llama owners. We were also joined by several llama driving folks including Susan Raven with her driving llama Count Chocula, Mike Hartke driving Prism and myself driving the rookie, Four Winds. This was Four Winds' 2nd parade. There was quite a crowd on hand as we circled the town square. The Choir was singing on the court house steps and everyone clapped and cheered as the llamas circled the town square. Several llamas stopped to give kisses to the adoring holiday crowd. One thing you can say about llamas, they always put a smile on people's face. We all had a great time even though we took a wrong turn on the parade route. Oh Well, never have been much for directions and I certainly don't want to ask for any either.
We wrapped up the Holiday season (no joke intended) with our annual Christmas play. This is a three-night event at a nearby University in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. The auditorium for this holiday event seats about 4,000 people along with a full orchestra and choir. When the orchestra and choir get going at the same time, it can be quite an awe-inspiring event, especially as the llamas cross the stage during the high point of the play. Typically, we bring four llamas to the play, which are lead onto the stage by students some as young as ten years of age, who usually have had little or no prior experience leading large animals. That's the part that I personally like the most. The first reaction of these young llama handlers is to be a little nervous, but by the end of the play they just love the llamas, know all the llama's names and nearly cry when the llamas have to leave and go home. As for the llamas, they always seem to have this whole play thing well under control. They never miss a beat, they walk proudly on the stage with their handlers as the orchestra and choir play and sing and then exit just as calmly and proudly as they had entered. We have been doing this for the past nine or ten years and everyone just loves the llamas. We also rarely bring the same llamas twice and have never had any problems.
Well in response to all those who have questions that "Bother them so" about what you do with llamas, "These are just a few of our favorite things." No matter what you do with your llamas, driving, packing, fiber, pets, showing etc . . . One thing you can be sure of, no matter where you go or what you do with your llamas they will put lots of smiles on a whole lot of faces. And for sure this world needs lots more smiling happy faces . . .