The llamas are leaving and to everything there is a season.
For many in the region who pass through Port Edward, whether for relaxing pleasure or for work, one can often hear the barking dogs on Ed Day’s property, before actually seeing the woolly-faces of long-necked herbivores peaking over a farm gate, along the roadside. Standing at the height of a 6 ft. human, the six pack of camel-cousins that have become the stars of the obligatory Sunday afternoon family drive, have been moved on to new homes.
What looks like a crossbreed between a horse and sheep, the flocculent mammals were originally purchased by Ed Day and his wife Alice Kruta. The couple had for years lived in the Hazeltons, with their young-daughter April.
April was the reason they got the llamas, Kruta said. It was 1995.
“When we lived in Hazelton it was too dangerous to get her a horse. So, on her 12th birthday we gave her two llamas named Coco and Oreo,” Kruta said.
Day said bears, including grizzlies, were seen at least twice a day on their property.
“Horses and bears don’t get along good to start with. We found out that llamas actually keep them (bears) away. Guardian llamas. The scent from them is so foreign that bears and wolves generally have nothing to do with it.”
Day said there were occasions they would have to rescue bears and show them on their way, because the llamas had them ringed in and would not let them go.
While serving as loved companions to April, the llamas also had the working purpose of being pack animals carrying materials into the back-country for Day’s eco-tourism business. From there Day branched out into breeding llamas. April would tag along with him to llama shows, which Day describes as being like fashion shows. The llamas are all beautified and glammed up to look their best.
“You actually sit at tables with a runway that comes off the stage. They take the llamas onto the stage and they walk them up and down the runway … Everybody is wearing tuxedos.”
Pedigree ‘glama’-llamas can cost up $65,000 each depending on the bloodline Day said.
During the last few years for Ed and Alice, they have seen their fair share of trials. In 2014, they lost their home to a fire that consumed everything they owned. While dealing with the aftermath of the fire April was diagnosed with a terminal illness. At the age of 32 cancer stole April from them.
Ed said he didn’t realize when they first moved to the property, where the Inverness Cannery used to be, what an attraction the llamas would be to the local children.
“I was surprised at how much interest there was in the area, but then I realized how the bylaws have made it such a rarity for most of the kids around here to see such a thing,” Day said.
It was time and necessary for the llamas to move on, Day said. As he and Alice get older the upkeep of the woolly mammals was becoming harder. Two of the six llamas are young intact males that would become rambunctious around females. The four females have moved on to a new home and the two young males will remain with Ed for a bit of training.
Alice said it is a bitter-sweet parting with the llamas, who were loved so much in memory of her daughter.
“Letting the girls go, five years after April’s passing, is finally moving forward,” Kruta said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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