Top 5 Activities in Sarthe, France ~ Located in the Loire Valley and known for its rolling hills, forests, and rivers, Sarthe, France offers visitors many activities and attractions to explore. Loire Valley Llama Farm Stay is a unique destination in Sarthe that provides guests …
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From Ireland across the Irish Sea to Wales, then onto England – October 2012
Then the man that worn the blue overalls noticed that my ears and my nose weren’t very collie like, I felt panic, my tummy started to bubble again, I’d been found out, I wasn’t a proper collie and wasn’t worthy of a name, I squeezed my eyes shut again.
“What, in the name of dog, do we have here? Will you look at those ears! She has the look of a Saluki with her pointy nose and silky ears, we’ll call her Suki”
My eyes sprung open, I had a name!
The lady that had carried me in off the doorstep was talking in her beautiful singsong voice, I had no idea just how beautiful her words were and how they would change my life forever.
“Jada’s been on the phone, she’s chosen the dogs for this months transport, and you Suki, are going to England!”
They’d made it sound exciting, like it was a good thing, but once again I found myself in a crate, in the back of a dark scary van. Why had they tricked me? what did I do wrong, I’d tried my very best to be a good girl.
Although, I couldn’t keep my eyes shut for long. With me were 9 other dogs, most of them looked like the farm collies that roamed around, a couple were wide eyed and shaky like me, some were whispering about the place called England and the woman called Jada. In the crate next to me there was a collie that looked a bit like a labrador. On his name tag was written ~ Marley, I thank goodness for Marley.
Marley was soooo excited, he had heard a rumour that England was full of tennis balls and snacks, he pulled really funny faces, dribbled a lot and gave the best full face licky kisses. Even when he was asleep he snored like a drain, made yippy noises and peddled his legs chasing balls in his dreams. With Marley there was always noise, with Marley next to me, the van didn’t seem so scary, the journey seemed shorter and I felt just a little bit braver.
The van stopped, the doors opened, the sun was so bright, I thought I saw an angel.
Lessons Learnt from Marley
The next few days were the best yet. We had food, cuddles, big soft beds and toys! Marley found a new mum and dad straight away, I knew he would, who wouldn’t want a dog like Marley in their life. I was sad that Marley was leaving, but he had taught me to be braver and told me the secret of craziness, that humans can’t resist a dog with a little bit of crazy in them.
I very nearly found a home too: a couple were coming to pick me up a in few days, when they phoned Jada to check how I was in a car. Jada had the phone on speaker whilst she was dishing up our dinner, so we all heard! OH MY DOG! none of us had ever seem Jada angry, it was pretty scary and I’m glad she’s on my side!
The lady asked whether I was car sick, Jada said she wasn’t sure, it wasn’t something she had checked for when we arrived, I could have told her that I wasn’t, my bubbly tummy was another matter but nope, I loved being in cars. The lady said “Oh well, we’ll soon find out, but if she is, we’ll be bringing her back” Cue 10 dogs, paws over ears whilst the air turned blue.
“You will NOT!”
“You will NOT!, as you will NOT be taking her in the first place!” phone slammed down, sounded like she broke it, and a lucky escape for me!
The next weekend, Jada fitted me out with a smart harness and told me that the dog walker was taking me, me! for the special walk, that I needed some TLC after being let down… I had no idea what that meant, maybe it’s when a human defends and protects you?
Who is Sarah?
I’d heard the other dogs talking about Sarah. Whenever she could, she’d turn up and just one lucky pup would get to have her all to themselves, we all loved our group walks with Jada but seriously, those leads get tangled when one human is trying to walk 5 or 6 dogs!
At first sight, I didn’t need to remember Marley’s advice, it started at the very tip of my tail, I could feel a tingling and had to wag it out, it crept up my legs and through my body and along my neck, my whole body was wagging like a crazy labrador, I couldn’t stand, I rolled onto my back, I was squealing tickle me, tickle me please!
But, I didn’t go for a walk that day, that’s what acting like a crazy labrador got me. It got me a forever home.
Sarah changed Suki’s name to Missy who is now nearly 10 years old. She lives in France with her mum and dad and her very own labrador Crumble. They also have llamas, goats, donkeys, chickens and 2 rescue cats Lola and Sammie. Crumble the lab gives all the animals the very best full face licky kisses!
New for Summer 2020: What have we been up to?
- The Llama Lodge is nearly complete! It’s private shower room looks superb! There will be no LLAMA dramas, with the brand new kitchen installed. (read more below…)
- Llama Farmer Academy! ~ We will soon be publishing our workbook, free to all children & teens staying 3 nights or more, full of learning activities to become a fully fledged llama farmer.
- The addition of the final tent, A funky ‘Sibley’ Belle Tent, with roll up side’s for those hot summer days.
- A solid roof for the outside kitchen.
- Garden duties! With 17 acres of gardens, meadows, woodland and forest, our work here is never done!
We truly believe the setting of the lodge, piggery and private garden is enchanted, it makes for a great magical romantic getaway for a couple or quirky family stay.
The Llama Lodge is converted from the farms old wine press, a beautiful timber framed building that sits in front of the cave.
The lodge itself is over 2 floors, on the ground floor there is a new kitchen with fridge, electricity and cooking facilities. and chairs to relax. Up the rustic staircase, is a cosy room designed for 2, but big enough for a young child to share. If you are holidaying with teenagers, they can share the room next door (n.b. this room, although part of the lodge building, is accessed separately from outside)
Across the lodges private garden, you will find the shower room. With a dual headed shower, sink, mirror and shelves, the llama lodge guests have exclusive use of this room…. converted from one of the farms ancient piggeries.
The garden has a picnic table and barbecue for lazy summer dining.
The swimming pool and all the farm facilities are available for lodge guests.
Watch this space, we will be filming a live video of the llama lodge soon!
Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? closer, Let me whisper in your ear…..
Baby goats are well scary!
I know this to be true as I have witnessed the fear that they instil, and the terror that is evoked by their mere presence.
Now I’m sure that true to their formidable reputation, you would believe that should our llamas be introduced to new farm mates, they would be pretty stand offish, maybe band together as a gang, and very likely gob in the eye of a newcomer… had I not been privy to the scenes on our farm earlier this year, I’d have agreed with you, probably even been willing to bet money on the llamas nonchalantly flicking their heads at any interruption to the day long task of eating and chewing the cud.
If there are any changes to be made on the farm, We always try to think of our animals first. So wanting to increase the animals on the farm, we decided on goats, you see, we’d seen so many pictures of llamas and goats together, llamas bravely acting as guards for these cute little creatures, sharing their stable and hay, all getting along like a house on fire.
Nonetheless, we decided to get baby goats, these 3 baby goats had also been breed to be hornless, we didn’t want the prospect of any accidental leg injuries to the llamas, and thought that introducing goats barely a few months old would pose no threat. We were smug indeed, that we had thought of everything to ensure a smooth welcome onto the farm and introduction to our beautiful, strong, toweringly tall llamas. (most are well over 6 ft tall)
Fast forward, an enclosure and stable were built to keep the goats safe and quarantined for a few weeks before they would be ready to mingle. Because of open gates we kept the llamas in the far pasture whilst the goats were delivered, out of sight and harms way.
Considering that we have a tendency to make impulsive decisions which are put into action before we can change our minds, we were pretty pleased with ourselves that everything had gone smoothly, even the dogs and cats had come for a nosey and decided that these newbies were a perfectly acceptable addition to the farm.
Re-opening the gate from the far pasture, we wondered off, out of sight, excited to watch the llamas meeting the goats through the fence for the first time.
OH MY DAYS!
Have you ever heard a llama alarm cry? have you ever heard 7 llamas making an alarm cry?!
When llamas sense danger, they make an alarm cry from their throat, to warn the rest of the herd…. you know the thing, warning there is a big cougar in their natural environment, or perhaps around our farm, there are hunters with guns, they let out the cry and make sure Bambi is aware and gets away (we love this!)
Oh the shame of it, our beautiful, strong, toweringly tall llamas were absolutely terrified of the threat to their safety, these babies had bought to the farm. Were the goats scared by the raucous the llamas were causing… not one bit! In fact they were acting incredibly annoyed that someone had put a fence in between them and their new friends!
Oh llamas do love a good drama and kept up the theatricals for a good couple of weeks. Then overnight, it seems, Ayesha instructed the lot of them to don their big girl knickers (even the 2 boys, who were not happy about this order) link little fingers with the goats, sing make up make up, and act as if nothing had ever happened.
Florence, Mary and Tabitha are now honoury llamas and get away with any mischief they think up;
Llama hay feeder = perfect goat trampoline
Llama standing in the rain = just the right height for a goat shelter
Llama cushed down chewing the cud = very handy goat foot stall to reach high places
Remember, you promised not to tell… our brave-heart llamas have a reputation to maintain!
Our 4th goat Didi has now also joined the crew and is expecting kids in February….