One of the most toxic pants in North America also really pretty. It's not what you want to see along the ditch that runs through your hay field, though. Water hemlock, cicuta, (c. maculata, above) is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae). The white clusters of flowers look similar to Queen Anne's lace and cow parsnip. It grows in wet meadows, and along streams and lakes.
Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) on the left, and water hemlock on the right.
Stem and leaves. The stem is hollow and smooth. For as poisonous as it is, water hemlock is surprisingly common in Colorado. For more info, a great resource is Field Guide to Plants Poisonous to Livestock : Western U.S. by Shirley Weathers, available from amazon.
Thanks to the generosity of our customers who bought sleeping bag llama coats, we donated $675.00 to Southwest Llama Rescue, in memory of Bobra Goldsmith, the founder of Rocky Mountain Llamas. Pegasus, pictured, was our spokesllama for the sleeping bag coats. He wore his dashing blue and red coat every night (it was his jammies) Sadly, Peg left us for greener pastures in January. He was a very special llama with a ton of character and a mischievous sense of humor. If you think llama do not have a sense of humor, you've been hanging out with the wrong llamas. To paraphrase Robert Louis Stevenson, "Does anyone think llamas do not go to heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us." He was talking about dogs, but it applies to llamas just as well.
We finally got some snow (Thank you, Lord!) We live in a semi-arid climate, but we insist on growing grass and hay. That requires water, which requires snow to fall, especially in the mountains, so it can fill the lakes and reservoirs we draw water from in the summer.
Guard Llamas love peace and quiet, and good, tilled earth. They dress in bright colours, being notably fond of yellow and green; but they seldom wear shoes, since their feet have tough leathery soles. They are fond of simple jests, and six meals a day, when they can get them. Oh, wait. That's hobbits. Guard llamas have something in common with hobbits, it turns out, what with the leathery-soled feet and fondness for six meals a day. And, there is a lot of misinformation floating around the internets about llamas as guards, not least of which is the correct spelling of 'guard'. While there are many llamas who are gainfully employed as guardians of sheep, goats, alpacas, and other animals, not every llama is suited to the task. Intact males, for example, are not a good choice for smaller livestock. In the event that they act on the instinct which makes them so territorial, (i.e. breeding) it generally doesn't go well for the animal being "guarded". Young llamas need to mature and figure out their place in the world before they are left in charge of a group of other animals. A llama should be at least two years old before they are expected to live with another species away from other llamas. It's important to remember that llamas are prey animals, and while they can and do chase away (and sometimes kill) coyotes and dogs, a llama is no match for a pack of canines, a mountain lion, or a bear. The best defense against that kind of threat is good fencing, and putting the animals in the barn in the evenings.
When some llamas see something they think is unusual or threatening, they often give an alarm call (like a cross between a horse's whinny and Curly of the Three Stooges going nyuk nyuk nyuk) (That's how it sounds to me anyway) It's worthwhile to check out what the llama is alarmed about. Once, I heard some of my boys alarming and looking toward the south. There was a bald eagle there in the pasture chowing on a prairie dog (TEAM EAGLE!!) It was a cool sight, and I probably wouldn't have seen it without the llama alert.
Rory, Greyfeather, and Jupiter in the Niwot Holiday parade.
One of the things that is required of llamas around here is Public Relations. This includes parades, like the Niwot Holiday parade, held along the two blocks of beautiful downtown Niwot, Colorado, USA. It also includes the obligatory "Can I pet the llama?" session that immediately followed the parade. Little kids (and their parents) love llamas, and Rowdy, Rory, Greyfeather, and Blizzard were happy to oblige. Jupiter, age 3, hasn't been to a parade before, and he was less happy to be swarmed by throngs of people, but he tolerated the attention, and was, overall, a good boy. He is very level-headed, and he trusts his people. Plus he was with 4 other llamas who are used to the commotion, and that helps too.
Even when it's cold out, the barn is pretty nice and warm. Llamas are better suited for the cold than the hot (no great surprise) but the old geezers can get chilled. Fortunately, we have coats for them. Sleeping bags can make nice warm llama coats, and we have some for sale here. We are donating the total purchase price of the coats to Southwest Llama Rescue in memory of Bobra Goldsmith. Bobra came up with the design for the sleeping bag coats, and she took wonderful care of her llamas.
Pegasus, age 30, sporting a sleeping bag coat. Peg said, "yes, the coat is nice. Now you kids get off my lawn."