Oh My llama!

Michaela+with+one+of+her+llamas

Michaela with one of her llamas

Michaela "Alec" Garltic, Contributing Author

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a llama as a pet? Michaela “Alec” Garltic, an eighth grade student here at NMS has a few llamas! We asked her a few questions to see what it’s like to have them and where her passion came from.

Where did your love of llamas come from?
There was a youtuber I was introduced to; his youtube name was Twaimz. He liked llamas and expressed his love of llamas and I think that just influenced me a lot.

Do you name your llamas? If so, what are their names?
I don’t get to name the llamas since they live on someone else’s farm. My first llama’s name was Chardonnay; she sadly passed away. Then there was Annie; she was very ornery. After the people I was originally working with retired, I started working with the Zions. They introduced me to Rocky. The llama I’m currently working with.

How many do you have?
I’ve worked with a total of three llama’s in my first year of 4-H.

Michaela petting her llama, Rocky

Do they all get along?
Rocky gets along very well with the other llama’s he’s housed with at the Zion’s farm. So he never has any spit in his wool. He’s best friends with another llama named Beanie.

Do you treat them like pets?
I treat Rocky like I would treat a pet that I’ve had for years. Even though I’ve only been working with him for a few months, I still talk to him and treat him like I’ve known him for way longer.

How long have you had them?
I’ve been working with Rocky for a few months. It’s been pretty hard since he likes to act up sometimes.

What age do they usually live up to?
Llamas usually live up to 20 years old, but they can die younger than that. Chardonnay had to be put down at about 10.

Do you have a favorite one?
Out of the three llama’s I’ve worked with, Rocky has to have been my favorite because he’s cooperated with me more than Annie ever would’ve. Even though he’s sometimes a pain in my butt, when he wiggles his lips on my hair and rests his head on my shoulder it really reminds me why I work with the llamas. It’s not for the trophies, it’s for the experience and bond I get to share with the animal.

What’s their diet like?
llama’s like to eat feed, hay, and grass. Llamas can also have things like apples and horse treats. Rocky really likes to eat apples from white house. And sometimes when I try to walk with him he’ll nibble at the grass.

Where do you keep them?
Rocky lives with the Zions on their farm. The llamas that I used to work with lived with the Manypennies on their farm. Their farms were in Columbiana.

Explain what a day in the life with them is like!
A day with Rocky would be something like this. First, I’d have to get ready and gather up all my books that I’ll need for the day. Then, I have to drive all the way out to the farm and Rocky will be on his lead and be all ready to go when I get there. When I first get to the farm, Rocky and I walk around a bit before I attempt to get him to go through the obstacle course. Usually he won’t do everything and I’ll spend about twenty minutes on that before moving on to brushing him for the rest of the time I’m there. After I’m done brushing him, I’ll tie him up to one of the picnic tables and give him some feed for behaving while I brush him. Once he’s done eating I’ll just sit with him for a bit and talk with him about various things.

Where do you do your shows with them?
My llama club and I show our llamas at the Canfield Fair when it rolls around. We keep them in a tent near the goats and the alpacas.

Are llamas easy to train?
It really depends on the llama since all llamas have their own personality. Chardonnay was very easy to train since she was an older and calmer llama. She had a lot of showing experience so she knew the drill. Annie was harder to train because she was only two years old. She hadn’t been shown before so she was very stubborn and didn’t want to work. Rocky has been a sort of middle ground since he’s six. He was shown a few times before I started showing him so he sort of knew what he was doing. However, he still wanted to act out because he wanted to see how much he could get away with.

How long have you been doing this?
I’ve technically been doing this for two years but I’ve only shown my llama at the fair once because of covid.

Do you talk to them?
I talk to Rocky just like I would talk to a human. Rocky hums when I ask him certain things so it’s like a conversation in a way. I’ll ask Rocky how his day is going or if he’s hungry. Or I’ll try to give him some positive encouragement to get him to cooperate with me.

Do they do tricks when you show them?
Llamas go through obstacle courses when you show them. They can jump over poles and go across boards. If we’re talking about something like a trick you would make a dog learn, then yes, llamas do know a few tricks that I know of. One example of a trick a llama could do would be going through a hula hoop. First, you’d have to get yourself and the lead through the hoop and then get the hoop around the llama’s neck. Then you have to do the hard part, which is getting their legs through the hoop. If the hoop is big enough, they’ll get through it no problem.

Can you explain what 4-H is?
If I had to explain it in my own words, 4-H is like a group that encourages you to push yourself to your fullest potential with whatever you’re doing. To be the best at what you do. Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

Contributing author