Up close and personal with llamas

Llama Barn Day and Fiber Festival draws hundreds

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  • Photos by Anya Tikka Dakota Steele, 10, from Milford touches her head with a friendly llama. Lowering your head so the llamas can smell your hair is a way for them to get to know, explained Wendy Kaplan who was giving the tour.




  • Ronald Rozas came from Staten Island for the 15th year to see the llamas.




  • Llama Barn Day was also a Fiber festival with many vendors set up in the expansive grounds. Llama hair is soft and hypoallergenic.



From just three llamas almost 30 years ago, Dick Snyder’s herd has grown to more than 50.

He’s opened up his Snyder Quality Llamas farm to host the Llama Barn Day and Fiber Festival for the past several years. This year’s event had already attracted about 300 visitors by 1 p.m., and the day was still young.

Llamas are attractive, affectionate animals that can be kept for several reasons, explained Snyder on his pre-tour talk at the all-female llama barn. They can be kept for their valuable wool, for companionship, and even to guard other animals like sheep.

Cultures in South America where they originate from use them as beasts of burden, and for meat, leather and milk. Snyder has won several awards for his llamas — they are on display at the entrance to the female barn.

Wendy Stuart Kaplan who guided the llama barn tour, explained the llamas are friendly, but like humans, they have their likes and personalities.

“If they don’t like you, they simply walk away,” she said smiling.

She continued, “Llamas are herd animals, and are best when with other llamas.”

Females and males are kept separately and only stay together during mating. The male llamas compete for domination, although they’re not very aggressive with each other, Kaplan explained.

Although llamas do spit on each other to establish dominance, they rarely spit on humans — although it’s known to happen under provocation.

Denise Steele who’s now 10 has adored llamas ever since she was two, and she first saw them in Florida where they used to live, explained her mother Debi.

“Her room is full of stuffed llamas, and pictures of llamas,” she added.

The family now lives in Milford and has attended the Llama Barn Day and Fiber Festival for the past two years. They came with Denise’s friend Asley Duke, 12, who also likes llamas.

Other visitors also said they keep coming every year to see the llamas on the Llama Barn Day.

Llamas can act mysteriously, and Kaplan said nobody’s really studied the different sounds, a kind of language that they use, including humming.

“They can be helpful companions,” she continued, “but you have to have two of them.”

Llamas are even used in therapy — they ride in elevators, Kaplan concluded.

They are gentle, affectionate animals that like company.

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