greyllama

As you pass the field where the llamas live at Mudchute, stop for a moment and watch them. They look so calm, elegant and proud. Try humming softly to yourself and you may see their beautiful long ears swivel around like radar dishes until they catch your sound and pinpoint where you are.
Like all animals that have a language, a communication system that we have managed to understand a little bit of. We know that they signal to each other by wiggling their ears and waggle their tails like semaphore flags.

pinkllama

Their young are called crias – prenounced KREEuh- which is Spanish for ‘baby’ and they chat to them by making humming sounds.
To defend their young, they will stamp and kick out at any creatures trying to attack them. In fact, they are superb nannies and guard creatures and at Mudchute and where ever else they are kept, they will put in the same fields as ewes and lambs, goats and kids to protect them.

brownllama

They are very clever and can tell a friendly dog from a predictor by sight.
If they get angry or frightened they make a sound like “Mwa’. They are not bitey creatures They have no upper teeth, so that would be difficult but when they are annoyed Or fight with each other, they will spit lots and lots of stomach contents over great distances or stick out their tongues or neck wrestle.

smoothpinkllama

Llamas evolved on the plains of North America 40 million years ago.
Think about that as you look at these incredible animals. You are looking at a creature that has spent 40 million years evolving. Around 3 million years ago, their ancestors relocated to the highlands of South America.

creamllama

Humans have been living with them for around 6000 years, mostly because we figured out that they are really good at carrying heavy loads for long journeys over rocky paths because they can grip so well with their hooved feet.
They can carry about 25% of their own body weight, but if a human decides to overload them they will refuse to move or lie down until their burden is reduced. This is a really clear way to communicate their thoughts and feelings to humans.

pinkllama

There are other reasons why humans want to live alongside llamas. They have soft undercoat which is light and warm and water repellent that can be worked to knit or weave incredible comfortable garments. Their thicker outer coat is coarser but can be used for making ropes and rugs.
They are also great companions for people because they are vegetarian, so their poo doesn’t smell much and when it is dried out it can be used as fuel for fires.
What noble beasts.



mudchute-shearing15-3543

With temperatures rising, this Thursday was the day to fire up the clippers and give our flock their annual trim! Derek the shearer had quite a long list of customers, with our flock of sheep as our two alpacas and three lovely llamas. However, everyone is looking neat and tidy following shearing and they will certainly be feeling much cooler. Shearing has also produced lots of lovely wool and fibre. If you might be interested in any of our fleeces or fibre, please get in touch by email to farm_office@mudchute.org, come along to our monthly wool crafting group this Saturday (June 27th) and see our website.

The girls wait their turn.

The girls wait their turn.

Little lambs aren't the best at waiting for mum's turn!

Little lambs aren’t the best at waiting for mum’s turn!

First up were our sheep, like this Whitefaced Woodland ewe.

First up were our sheep, like this Whitefaced Woodland ewe.

Trim all done, it's out to graze!

Trim all done, it’s out to graze!

Our Jacob sheep who have lovely marking even under their fleeces.

Our Jacob sheep who have lovely marking even under their fleeces.

Jacob ewe looking very smart and tidy!

Jacob ewe looking very smart and tidy!

Bertie the Oxford Down ram, one of our largest sheep!

Bertie the Oxford Down ram, one of our largest sheep!

Despite this being his first shear, he was quite relaxed on the shearing boards.

Despite this being his first shear, he was quite relaxed on the shearing boards.

Bertie, half shorn.

Bertie, half shorn.

Our alpacas, Claude and Columbus looking fluffy before shearing.

Our alpacas, Claude and Columbus looking fluffy before shearing.

Shearing alpacas is a bit trickier than sheep, but they didn't phase shearer Derek. Lookin elegant post-trim.

Shearing alpacas is a bit trickier than sheep, but they didn’t phase shearer Derek. Looking elegant post-trim.

The indignity!

The indignity!

We also sheared our three llamas this year.

We also sheared our three llamas this year.

Halfway there.

Halfway there.

Don't forget the tail!

Don’t forget the tail!

Much tidier and ready for the predicted hot weather!

Much tidier and ready for the predicted hot weather!

They must be feeling much cooler!

They must be feeling much cooler!

Llamas heading back out to their field, summer ready.

Llamas heading back out to their field, summer ready.

Happy shorn sheep, definitely feels like summer now!

A field full of happily grazing freshly shorn sheep, definitely feels like summer now!