We keep a small herd of Nigerian dwarf goats, two llamas, two emus, and an alpaca, as well as 2 great pyrenees dogs and a random assortment of farm cats and chickens. Meet the menagerie below.
Samurai (aka Barack O Llama) on the left, Golden Moon (aka Michel O Llama), and Tyrion (he talks a lot) in the front comprise our small herd of south American camelids. We originally got the llamas for packing in the Sierras. Although we have been negligent in their training, they have proved to be thoroughly delightful and charming animals. Smart, sensitive, and easy to lead on halter, they also contribute great fertilizer for our farm and guard their little ungulate friends, the goats. Tyrion the alpacas came to us via a friend after his brother died. Llamas and alpacas are pack animals and cannot live happily alone. We have been amused to see him become the leader of the herd, for though his size is small, his gravitas is mighty.
We keep a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats for milking for personal use only (the regulations around dairy production are onerous and almost impossible of the small scale). These cute little creatures have won our hearts - they are affectionate like dogs, yet less needy. Nigerian Dwarfs make milk that is 10% butterfat, compared to 4% for standard cow milk, which makes for an insanely creamy and delicious milk. At only 60 lbs each, they make up to a gallon of milk a day, which is plenty for a small household like ours.
We have two Great Pyrenees dogs, Bijou and Delphine.
This breed has been around for thousands of years, bred in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain by the Basque people to guard sheep. They are loving, loyal and gentle dogs, that can be trusted to guard all manner of other animals.
I used to say I didn’t like cats, but cats very much like me. We now have 7 on the farm, most of whom wandered onto the property and adopted us. Since rodent control is one of the most onerous and least pleasant parts of farming, we welcome their help.
Ricky and Lucy joined us in 2020 when their former home was consumed by wildfire. Emus are fascinating creatures! They are endemic to Australia. They can sprint at up to 30mph, which makes for quite a show when Ricky and Barack occasionally decide to chase each other around in circles. They are an extremely common species that hasn't evolved much in 80 million years. Australian colonizers once attempted to wage a machine gun war against emus in western Australia, and the emus won! Emus are very curious about shiny objects, so if they see you with metallic jewelry, or holding a phone, they might take an interest. They are very curious creatures, which can be intimidating at first, but it turns out they're also quite good natured and affectionate, and love to have their long necks petted.
We celebrate the wild creatures on our farm, even if they nibble on our produce. From hummingbirds to raptors, golden weasels and giant jack rabbits, singing coyotes and slithering king snakes, the animals we see on the farm throughout the year speak to a healthy environment nurturing all the life on this land.