Loveable llama guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Aug. 29, 2003 at 5:29 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
They look a bit like one of those unusual creatures that inhabit the pages of whimsical stories by Dr. Seuss, but llamas -- and alpacas -- are cousins to the camel, albeit more friendly ones! Ask almost anyone who has met a llama for their reaction and you're likely to get one that resembles this...
"My life is totally focused around llamas," says Nancy Fox, of Stone Fox Fibre Works in Grafton.
On her Web site, Fox answers the question, "What do you do with a llama?" this way, "The very best thing you can do with a llama is LOVE THEM." That gives you a sense of her enthusiasm for the loveable llama.
"It's the same thing everyone who works with llamas feels," she says. "There is something very unique about them. They have a very special aura; a way of making you feel good."
Llamas were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago by the people of the Andes Mountains. They are still used as pack animals in parts of Peru and are growing rapidly in popularity in the U.S.
The llama's soft padded foot is easy on trails and their diverse appetites are environmentally friendly. Llamas are extremely alert but not as "jumpy" as horses. They generally weigh between 250-550 pounds and stand five feet tall or more. Llamas have a life expectancy of about 15-25 years and females produce one baby, called a cria, each year.
Llamas are quiet, even-tempered, gentle, curious and quick to learn. They are good companions, even for children. Though, like camels, they have the ability to spit undigested cud at their enemies, they usually prefer to flee. Llamas have a wide range of patterns and colors, including white caramel, brown and black. Their wool is soft, warm, lightweight and durable.
Although they are native to South America and are often associated with treks high in the Andes, there are a number of llama and alpaca farms in Wisconsin and we love these long-necked fuzzy charmers so much that we've decided to point out some places where you can spy them right here in southeastern Wisconsin.
London Dairy Alpacas
6827 Hwy 147, Two Rivers, (920) 793-4165
Kevin Stoer and Wade Gease run a farm that dates back to the 19th century, when Stoer's grandfather purchased the land. While grandpappy raised chickens, turkeys, pigs and dairy cows, Stoer and Gease have bred and raised the considerably less common alpacas since 1996, when they purchased four.
These guys are serious about their alpacas. Stoer holds a degree in Agricultural Education with an emphasis in Animal Science and has taught and trained judging teams for all species of livestock.
Meanwhile, Gease has been working to find new marketing venues for the alpaca industry and the LondonDairy Web site is loaded with items you can buy made from alpaca wool, including hats, gloves, scarves, teddy bears, socks, yarn and more.
If you saw the two alpacas at the State Fair this year, you likely met the friendly and enthusiastic Stoer and Gease, who effusively share their love for alpacas with anyone on hand.
"We do make appointments with persons that either want to know how to raise the animals themselves or just to browse through the finished products from alpaca fiber," says Gease. So, give them a call.
Of The Trees Llamas
6W35576 CTY Rd. D, Dousman
Jim and Jan Storck run this three-acre farm that also is home to a tree care service. The Storcks bought their first llama in 1994 and moved out of the city to be able to give it a proper home! Soon they had a pair and now have a breeding service, too. The couple has also produced a decorative llama throw in conjunction with South Carolina-based Rug Barn. Call to schedule a visit.
Pleasure Valley Llamas
W7757 S. Hwy A, Adell, (920) 994-9294
You can get a close-up look at more than 60 Chilean llamas, from April to October, at Pleasure Valley, where there is also a tour and a llama show, held daily, rain or shine. Kids will love trying their hands at spinning wool or training a llama in this northern Kettle Moraine-area farm. Appointments are required, bus tours are welcome and groups of more than 35 get a discount. Wait until autumn and get a glimpse at an amazing llama-shaped maize maze!
Stone Fox Fibre Works
1544 E. River Rd., Grafton, (262) 375-2779
Nancy Fox says that she "woke up one morning in May of 1981 wanting a llama. I didn't know why. Nor did I have any idea how llamas would change my life. They turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me."
Now, Fox's hobby has grown into a full-blown llama farm and business in Grafton. She harvests the wool from her pack and makes all kinds of garments from it. She also does custom garment work and even sells llamas, too. Although she doesn't have a petting zoo and isn't set up to handle public visits, check out her Web site and see some of the wondrous work she does with llama fiber.
Windridge Farm Llamas
3363 Lakeview Rd., Colgate, (262) 628-3391
The husband and wife team of Thomas J. Hoffman and Janet L. Coddington started their Colgate farm in 1990 with just two llamas, but Windridge has grown into a llama mecca in Wisconsin, with between 20-35 llamas in its herd. Hoffman and Coddington offer breeding services, sales, training, boarding and support, as well as sales of raw fiber in a range of colors.
Visitors are welcome, by appointment.
Hoffman is also a leader of the Washington County Llama Project. The group participates in shows, fairs and other activities to help 4-H members learn about and work with llamas.
E1870 Pine Grove Rd., Kewaunee, (920) 845-5571
Located southeast of Green Bay, KeLe is home to the annual "Day on the Farm" event (held this year on Sat., Sept. 1, 2001, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.) which offers lots of typical fair fare, like face painting, live music, ice cream and storytelling, but augmented with oodles of alpaca activities, like an alpaca obstacle course, information from on-hand alpaca breeders and vendors and more. And all of it benefits Violence Intervention Project (VIP) for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Kewaunee County. Admission is free, but a donation to VIP would be the right thing to do, wouldn't it?
E3602 1450th Ave., Ridgeland, (715) 455-1144
If you find yourself way up north Opportunity Llamas has been working with llamas for more than a decade and offers the usual breeding, training, transportation, etc., but also is committed to public education. They can arrange to bring a llama to your group or function and they offer hikers the chance to strap their backpack to a llama and trek through the woods. A $30 fee also includes a gourmet picnic lunch along the way. Sign me up!
If we've missed your llama or alpaca farm, please drop us a note. We'd be more than happy to come and shower affection on your herd and add your farm to this story!
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