with Llynda’s Llamas
A decade ago the only place you were likely to spot a
llama was in a zoo. These days, however, they are to be found grazing
in paddocks and fields all over the UK, and now that even includes …
the fields of Ambridge in Borsetshire! Fans of Radio 4’s “The Archers”
will have recently learned that the indefatigable Lynda Snell has
bought a pair of llamas for her husband Robert’s birthday*.
why, one would be forgiven for wondering, have llamas become such a
“Llamas are immensely hardy, versatile and pleasurable to own”
enthuses Paul Rose, one of the driving forces behind the growth in
popularity of these imposing and graceful animals. Owner of the
Roseland Llama Farm in mid-Devon, Paul began farming llamas some
fifteen years ago and has been advising the Ambridge production team
on all things llama-ish!
"I had contacted The Archers production team on and off over the
past ten years in the hope that I could persuade them in some way to
reflect the growing trend to introduce llamas into farm and village
life. I first wrote to Peggy Archer (now Woolley) about ten years ago
when she was looking for ideas when organising visits for the local
W.I; I suggested she visit a llama farm! June Spencer wrote back (as
Peggy) saying she would bear it in mind... Various other themes
presented themselves over the years that encouraged me to put pen to
paper, and then more recently when David Archer was having trouble
with dogs chasing his sheep I wrote suggesting he use a llama to
protect the sheep! I hoped that the occasional letter - like every
couple of years - would not have the reverse effect and put them off!
Then just before last Christmas I got an email saying they were going
with it - llamas would come to Ambridge! The following four months
brought a fun exchange of emails back and forth as I filled in
background husbandry details and suggested possible story lines, some
of which are being used. At one point their sound engineer and
producer came down to record the sound of llamas humming - great fun
persuading them (the llamas that is, not the production team) to sing
on demand. They also recorded me brushing the llamas, so when you hear
the llamas being brushed - that's me on The Archers!!!"
But why llamas?
“We breed llamas to sell to a very varied cross-section of society.
They are finding increasing favour among farmers, for example, to keep
foxes from attacking their lambs and free-range poultry. The llama is
unlikely to kill the fox but will chase it out of the flock and the
fox will look for easier pickings elsewhere!
There is also a burgeoning interest among the public for trekking with
llamas and several new ventures have started up around the country to
cater for this growing leisure market. The llamas are not ridden but
are used for carrying anything from picnics on half-day leisure walks
to camping gear for longer mountain hikes.
helped ventures set up in Dorset where they trek along the Heritage
coastline, in Snowdonia, in the Forest of Dean and soon the Pennine
Way. Many customers seem to just love the experience of being with the
Llamas have fine, soft fibre similar in quality to cashmere and some
owners are producing their own hand knitted garments from the wool.
“Though after shearing,” Paul admits “the previously
magnificent looking beast suddenly looks rather like a cat that has
just had a bath: before, splendid and fluffy - after, skimpy and
Farmers are also buying Paul’s llamas to diversify and set up their
own breeding herds, but Paul’s main market for these woolly wonders
over the years has been the field pet market.
“We sell all over the UK. Apart from many sales here in the South
West, we have sent llamas up to Scotland, across to Kent, over to
Ireland and just recently down to the Channel Islands. Llamas can be
taken for walks, be taught to pull a cart and even give children
rides. They make ideal companions for a lone horse, as they bond well
and hardly impact at all on the owner’s workload or cost of keep. But
what is especially nice is that you do not have to exercise llamas or
put them away at night. You can have fun with them or just leave them
to eat down your grass and look magnificent whilst they are doing
And it is for just these sorts of leisure activities that Lynda Snell,
often first in the village of Ambridge with new ideas, has acquired
her llamas. But whilst llamas are generally quiet and content animals,
Ambridge life is rarely uneventful… so, as Paul says, "llisten out"!
Life with Lynda’s llamas is unlikely to be without a certain amount of
* 4th April 2003
for more llama information.
Trekking Centres for more information about trekking along the
Dorset Heritage coast and elsewhere
can be contacted on 01363 866056.