Sunday, June 27, 2010

All about Kai (Part 1) -or- Kai and the goats

I received some questions from people in my last blog post asking how Kai llama is doing without Dolly and Toni.

Well, after a week of careful observation, I am happy to report that she is doing wonderfully. Even I have been amazed at the seemingly painless transition (knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and jump three times on my right foot).

As I am with all my animals and the decisions concerning their care, I obsessed was concerned about Kai's transition to single-llama status here on Critter Farm. Since Dolly and Toni's departure, I have been watching Kai almost non-stop for signs of distress or unhappiness. I can detect none.

The lady who originally rescued Kai, Dolly and Toni mentioned to me last November that Kai had the characteristics of an excellent livestock guardian. I didn't really understand what those characteristics were at the time, but I certainly do now.

A few months after the three llama ladies' arrival here, Kai began to differentiate herself from the other two llamas. She was consistently more standoffish and independent than the other two, frequently distancing herself, even from her llama family, to "do her own thing". She was extremely alert to what was going on around the property, frequently running off to investigate a new noise or visitor:

And then there were the goats.

From the first time Kai met Pete and Reggie through a green farm gate, she loved to be close to them:

It delighted me the first time I watched her protectively follow them around the pasture:

To this day, if the goats stop for long enough, she'll just stand there and sniff them, inhaling deeply (they do smell really good):

What I never anticipated was how much her interest in the goats could help me, too. The 7-strand New Zealand electric fence that protects our property, and separates our three pastures, is meant for large animals. It provides zero protection or security for the smaller animals (goats) that can (and do) slip under and through it on a whim. With Pete and Reggie, this happens at the drop of a hat if they want to follow me or something else suddenly catches their attention. This means that, since I've had them, if the goats were to be in the pasture, I needed to be right there with them. Tethering is not a safe option and the expense of changing the fencing was too great. Enter Kai the llama.

With her in the pasture with them, they stay put. The best part is, I think they're pretty taken with her, too:

Today, Kai knows that when I walk down the hill with Pete and Reggie and open the gate to the middle pasture, this is her cue to come and protect "her" goats:

And this she does with seemingly little effort:

Pete and Reggie take it all in stride:

I'd like to believe that she is a happier llama because she knows she has an important job to do:

It's funny, but even with a post this long, I still feel like I've still only partially answered the question of how Kai is doing. There's a bit more to be said.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you how things are going between Kai and the donkey boys, Chester and Beau. And with me, too.


  1. Well if Kai being so alert like she is in the last photo, is an example of what she is doing, than that to me is a 'guard' llama. Glad to see that she is doing so well, and you would know if she was stressed. I hope someone has told Pete & Reggie that they have a new big 'sister'.

  2. Oh Danni, you answered my question without me even asking it! I was concerened about how Kai would do without her llama family, too. I'm so glad that she's doing well, and is happy!

    She's a working llama, how wonderful! Did the other llamas show any characteristics like this? What makes one llama behave different like this? Very interesting post!


  3. Wow, that's amazing, Kai really is a good goat momma. lol....Way to go Kai to take care of these two little boys.

  4. I think your assessment of Kai being happier now because she has a job is spot on. We are all meant to have a purpose.

  5. What a sweet post! Can't wait to hear about the donkey boys tomorrow - and you. We just love all of your critters.

  6. I just love it when things work out for the best! A guard llama! Love it..

  7. I am SO very happy that Kai is doing so well after the dynamics of her herd changed.

    She loves those goats...and wants to keep them safe. And I think she loves having a job. One of the prettiest things I have seen is watching Kai running after the goats...or well, just running in general. I love to watch her.

    Its clear that a very well thought out decision was made for her. And Im very happy that I can see her every time I come to visit you. :-)

  8. All is well at Critter Farm! Great news, indeed!

  9. A happy ending! I had the same experience with Koo. Once Penne was gone he started paying a lot more attention to the goats. The other day he heard a noise by the road and ran around and gathered his herd in a tight group. The goats were a bit confused at his sudden interest in them but they cooperated. Then they all walked together to investigate. He is worth his weight in gold.
    Pete and Reggie will be well protected. Speaking of Pete and they are growing. They look like big boys now.

  10. You're such a good critter momma!
    I knew you'd be concerned about Kai, but also knew you'd keep an eye on the situation.
    I'm thrilled she seems to be making your worry, all for nought. :)

  11. Danni - I marvel at the "awareness" that Kai exhibits in these photos of her with the boys. Or maybe a better word would be "alertness". She certainly knows what her position is, and is doing a bang-up job of it. I'm glad things are working out so well, since I, too, was concerned she would get lonely without her llama buddies. I'm glad to see things are working so well for all involved. And am looking forward to seeing how Kai is doing with your donkey boys. Take care, from KY.

  12. Yay for Kai! Anyone who protects goats is okay in my book. :)

  13. Wow, I'd have to say everything is working out great for everyone. She has a job and she takes great pride in it. Meant to be, why yes, I believe so! Looking forward to the next installment.

  14. Your Kai just might be the long lost twin of our Yama the Llama (though our Yama was recently sheared so Kai definitely not naked like Yama.) Our Yama is also an excellent guard llama for our small flock of sheep - so much that he throws a hissy fit even when we are the ones doing sheep care. He also rounds up the sheep for us and is the last one in line when they come to the barnyard at night. Glad to hear your Kai is happy!

  15. When I worked at the rescue, I wrote a story about the llama who protected their goats. From his perspective, he was the most impotant animal there, b/c he had a real job. I can just see that Kai feels the same way.--Inger

  16. Ohhhh! I got tears in my eyes. That is so sweet. Thanks for sharing and with such wonderful detail as you do. I never knew that llamas could have such a protective instinct over other animals. And I will echo what has been said are such a great critter mom giving such thought and attention to everything!

  17. You know your animals so well that Kai now is the happiest, most fulfilled llama in the western hemisphere. I know it was hard for you to decide what would be best for Kai, but clearly this is it!!!

  18. I don't know much about llamas, how interesting! You seem like a person who is really in the flow and this fits so well. She had her place with you and the other two had a new home that wanted them. Even when they came to you, the flow was working for all of you. Lovely. Can't wait to hear more!

  19. It sounds like Kai is completely content and likes having a job to to. She certainly does seem to like the company of her little charges and it appears to have a calming effect on them too, by the pictures.

  20. They are like the 3 Musketeers!

  21. I would love to learn more about a llama's inner life. Not to mention goats and donkeys. Each one is a fascinating individual.


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