You may remember my farm visit last year when I wore the most appropriate footwear I could find for the purpose – my Crocs. (*Note to self – invest in Wellies if you are going to keep doing this.) After that adventure I became enthralled with all animals that are bred for their hair.

I met Ute in the fall when I was on a mission to buy all the things I needed for a last minute family dinner and determined to do a one stop shop at the market. Everything was sooo soft I couldn’t resist purchasing a wee hat for my Grandson Pete’s first birthday. 

Ute shared with me that she raises the alpacas locally in Freelton and then shears and spins the yarn herself before creating the most stunning chapeaus and chemises. No wonder the wool is so beautiful. Those alpacas enjoy a good life. They live a pretty undisturbed existence, residing in a large barn, coming and going as they please, nibbling on hay, listening to a shearer as she plays her recorder while they are waiting to be sheared. If there is one thing I learned last year on my farm visit – less stress equals higher quality yarn.

So this is all good because I like to buy locally made products and I appreciate the good quality. But it gets even better when I hear that Ute has a….what….for her guard? German Shepherd? Rottweiler? Doberman Pinscher? Nope.

A llama. Who knew that llamas have a “tude”!? Ute told me a story about this marvelous creature that only she can tell.

“I have a llama as a guard animal, because there are coyotes in our area and llamas take care of that in a very elegant way. They kick them with their front feet and they are very protective.

The llama I have now, I got from a customer, as she had a hard time dealing with her. She got her from a young lady who raised her in her house because the mother rejected the little baby llama. Unfortunately it is not a good idea to take a baby llama or alpaca out of her herd. They usually start to react strangely when they hit adolescence.

Quite often they get aggressive, which happened to this one. She started to spit at her owner when she did not get things her way and became quite unpredictable. I told my customer, I will give it a try, as I had llamas and alpacas for years.

Most llamas have a very arrogant attitude and they like to be the boss on the farm. This one was no different. We changed her name as we thought Dodo is not a proper name for a powerful animal like that. My son had the idea to call her Margaret after Margaret Thatcher.

Margaret had to learn that things are going a little bit different on my farm. I am the boss and she is the manager. When she started to spit at me, I was prepared and had a spray bottle of cold water with me. I spit/sprayed her into her eyes and mouth until she backed up.

It took her a few days to understand that I don’t give in and she accepted it. When I go into the barn now she gives me kisses and still gets mad at me sometimes, which she shows in putting her ears back, but very seldom spits at me. Because that means she gets into trouble.

After sorting out our position peace moved into the barn and we love each other but don’t interfere with each other’s job – me being the boss and her being the guard. I know that is not an alpaca story, but Margaret is part of the herd.”

If you would like to hear more stories about The Iron Lady….er….Margaret, come and visit Ute at the Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market. She will be there every weekend along with the food you love, the growers you know, and often a good story, starting with opening day May 24, 8am to 1pm.