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Lunching with Llamas
 
for AAA Horizons
Images and Text ©2006 Marcheterre Fluet
Word count: 505


I’m walking along a path in the woods, enjoying the chirping of birds and the wind in the trees. Something rustles in the underbrush, and I look up at the face of my hiking companion to see if he has noticed. He has. His furry face is turned toward the noise, and his long ears move backward and forward, listening in all directions. We wait a moment, but the chipmunk or squirrel is long gone. “Okay, buddy?” I ask, and his huge brown eyes look down at me. “Let’s go!” I give a little tug on the halter rope and my companion, a gentle llama named Addie, agreeably follows me down the forest trail.

It is a fine day in early summer, and I am here to have lunch with llamas.



David and Karen Seiffert, with Stone 

 

David and Karen Seiffert have been leading hikes with llamas for ten years, from their home, Pinetum Farm Llamas, in Granby, MA. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, the Seifferts say; neither too hot for the llamas nor too cold for the humans. The child-friendly trail meanders through woods and meadows where Karen’s grandparents once had dairy cattle. David built the Seifferts’ house with timber cut on the family land. “That was in my younger days,” says David. “Now we’re both retired, but it’s fun doing the llama hikes. We want people to enjoy the animals.”

It’s easy to enjoy these strange yet stately creatures, with their curious faces and irresistably deep, soft fleece. “Do they like being patted?” was the first question I asked. “You can pat them on the neck,” Karen said. This is perfect, because llamas have a lot of neck.

Karen is a spinner and weaver, and became interested in llamas because, like sheep, llamas are sheared for fleece. “The llamas’ fleece does not contain lanolin,” says Karen. “Some people who can’t wear wool from sheep have no problem with llama wool.” Since I am one of those can’t-wear-wool people, I make a note to try llama wool gloves next winter.

With David and Karen as guides, each hiker leads his or her “own” llama to a woodland clearing with a rustic corral and campsite. Guests bring their own food and the Seifferts provide everything else, including a fire ready for cooking burgers. You can hike empty-handed, too, because the llamas carry all your supplies in their packsaddles.

School and youth groups - even professional “team-building” workshops - have lunched with the Pinetum llamas. “A lot of families come out from the Boston area,” David tells me. “They like to take a walk with the llamas and have a cookout before they go on to Yankee Candle or the Berkshires.” A farm visit can include weaving and spinning demonstrations. Springtime hikes can be routed to a vernal pool for sightings of frog and salamander eggs. And what could be better than lingering around a fire on a cool autumn day, while your llama companions relax in their own woodland corral?

Contact information:
Pinetum Farm Llamas
413.467.7146
www.the-spa.com/llamahikes