When I was a kid I wanted to live on a farm and be a 4H kid, but I lived in the city, and with my family – well, let’s just say that wasn’t going to happen in a million years. So I was delighted when I got to know my friend Martha and got to help out with her 4H llama club, and last year I became an official 4H Leader with her club. We have a couple new families in our club this year, and one doesn’t have llamas yet, and wanted the kids to try it out first and make sure they enjoyed it before they bought any (a very good idea). And that is how these two boys came to borrow my llamas Scoops (the grey one) and Patrone (the white one with a brown tail) for 4H.
I load up the llamas and bring them to club practice days so they can work with them, or they come to my house to practice. We teach them about how to show off your animal to the judge, prepare them for the questions the judge will ask, and then we set up obstacles and get the animals used to them – things like going over little jumps, walking through brush, walking over a tarp.
Saturday we had our first show. Both of the boys did great. They had to brush their llamas out and present them for judging, and did obstacle courses with them. All their work at practice showed, because a llama won’t work for you if he doesn’t trust you, and the boys got the llamas to behave better than I had expected, and go through most of the obstacles without any fuss. And look how clean Patrone was for the judge! That boy was persistent in brushing all the hay out of that llama!
By the end of the day they both had accumulated a slew of ribbons for their hard work, and they were a little more prepared for county fair, which is only a month away. I was really happy with how well they did, and how well they treat the llamas. I’m also really happy that I am at a point in my life where I have my own little farm and I can help other kids have that 4H experience I never had a chance to enjoy. It’s fun to teach them, and to watch them work hard, make friends with the other llama kids when the clubs get together, occasionally suffer indignities when their llamas try to humiliate them (I’ve seen llamas drive kids to tears at fair), and come out smiling at the end. I guess that’s a pretty fun way to build character!