Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

Grandma Llama, Rest in Peace.

Grandma Llama died this morning in the barn. She was around 20 years old and anemic. To spare you the gruesome details, she somehow received a cut on her stomach that was over an arterial vein. In the end, she basically bleed for too long. This may have been the first time an animal has ever died in front of me. Except the one time I rode over a chipmunk on a bicycle, but that was such a freak accident, I still don’t understand it fully.

We were never meant to welcome Grandma on the farm. While we were picking up Patsy and Edina, there she was, with baby Saffy, unwanted and sure to meet an untimely end. So the next day, I returned to the farm and loaded them both into the trailer. That was almost one year ago. Since then, we learned Grandma was considered a Level 5 starvation case – the worst of the worse. With lots of hay and fancy grain, her hair grew back where it had fallen out. She sat mostly in the barn, hanging out with the other old-timers, Hyacinth and Richard.

She was the first to the grain every morning. In fact, I knew something was wrong when she didn’t come to eat this morning. I’ve never really tried to describe llama characteristics, but she was friendly, inquisitive, and tolerant. Whatever happened to her early this morning, I know she certainly didn’t instigate it. I can’t describe the feeling as I was applying pressure to her wound, waiting for the vet to arrive, and having her collapse to the ground. At that point, we knew to brace ourselves for the worst.

Farm life is very real. And it smacked me the face this morning. Not only facing the death of an animal you’ve become accustomed to seeing, and caring for, every day, but also the logistics of handling death on the farm. Llamas are large animals, and cremation can be expensive. But whatever the end result, we have respected Grandma as she lay covered with an old, but very loved sheet. Her lifeless body was always lifted, never dragged.

My final memory of Grandma won’t be the final moments, but instead will be seeing her face every morning. I’ll also remember how kind the other llamas were today; how Hyacinth let Grandma rest her head on her back as she wavered standing this morning. How Saffy kept trying to peer inside the barn, checking on her Grandma, who she had known since birth. Farm life an be an emotional occupation. I’ll never be the guy who raises pigs for food. I’m too much of a blubbering idiot. So when someone at Orchard House dies, it’s a sad day. But we move on, because there are still hungry mouths to feed and young animals to carry on the legacy of those who have come before.

Good night Grandma, you may be gone, but you are surely not forgotten.

Comments (8)

8 Responses to Grandma Llama, Rest in Peace.

  1. Heather says:

    I’m sorry Andrew, the loss of life always seems so incredibly unfair.

  2. Sharon Isselhardt-The Flying Frog says:

    That’s so sad. It made me get tears in my eyes. I’ve always thought llamas seem so loving and gentle and delicate. So sorry for your loss. It sounds like you took wonderful care of her.

  3. Joseph says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss and thank you so much for sharing your touching account of how the events unfolded.

  4. I’m so sorry, Andrew. It is good you were with her when she died, I am sure it comforted her.

  5. Diana Jones says:

    I am so sad to hear about Grandma. I know you brought comfort to her in so many ways. What a blessing for her to be in your care.

  6. Jerrod and Brooke says:

    We just read the news on your blog. Jerrod and I are very sorry for your loss. What a blessing that she had such a pleasant last year of her life. We’ve seen the care, dedication, and love that you put into your farm since we stayed earlier this month and you have absolutely brought love into that sweet Llamas life. I’m so glad that you rescued her and gave her the attention that she deserved. Thank you for your integrity and bravery.

  7. Sondra says:

    What a wonderful post – not the outcome, but the celebration of Grandma’s year with you at the farm! How she must have been blessed to have your care! It is a rare and wonderful quality to be able to care for others – human or animal. I can’t wait to visit the farm. Hope to see you soon!

  8. Diana Maculan says:

    My friend and I knew from the moment we visited last summer, that the animals at your farm had the best care possible. They were enjoying living there as much as we were enjoying watching them in their element. Reading about Grandma, how you took her in, and gave her such a loving and caring home says so much. How wonderful it was for you to be able to give her that. That you were there with her, along with the other animals, when she died says even more. May she rest in peace.

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