Check out this year's crop of baby llamas called "crias".
"BREEDING A NEW GENERATION OF QUALITY LLAMAS"
Walnut Ridge Llama Farm is located in a small community called Chuckey just outside of Greeneville, TN in the northeast tip of East Tennessee, near the North Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia borders. The owners, Jerry and Carolyn Ayers, live in a log cabin on approximately 25 acres with the Smoky Mountains in full view. Jerry has been a high school principal for the last 25 years and retired June 2017 to spend more time on the farm & open a new campground on the farm called the “Lazy Llama Campground.” Carolyn is a fiber artist and currently a high school art teacher.
The Ayers have raised a variety of animals on their small farm for many years including goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, etc. They purchased their first llamas in 1998 which changed their lives forever. Carolyn, who is originally from Jacksonville, Florida, was a city girl and rarely came to the barn unless baby animals were being born. The running joke around Walnut Ridge is “before llamas, Jerry couldn’t get Carolyn to come to the barn, but now he can’t get her to come back to the house.” Carolyn has definitely turned into a farm girl and would spend 24/7 with the llamas if she could. Jerry and Carolyn have spent half of their married life of 40+ years raising llamas. According to Jerry, their shared passion for llamas has allowed them to find each other again, especially now that their two children are grown and Jerry has retired. Come visit our farm to see the beauty & wonder of llamas!
Take a look at our video interview in 2017. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Jj4aTLrbDNYkJxNHNUTzVxdzg/view
CANCELLED FOR 2020 DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
“Art at the Llama Farm” is a day camp experience located at Walnut Ridge Llama Farm, only minutes from Greeneville and Jonesborough Tennessee. The llama farm offers a summer day camp unlike any other in East Tennessee. It provides children and adults the opportunity to discover a world where life takes place in harmony with nature. We now have the Lazy Llama Campground where couples, individuals, parents or grandparents of children can camp during the week during the art day camp. Children and adults are allowed to enjoy and learn through fiber arts and crafts while surrounded by the tranquility of llamas. The 25 acre llama farm is the ideal setting for such a unique art and farm experience. Children and adults do not have to be “artistic” to attend the camp. This engaging environment will help children and adults discover their own abilities and creativity through art and farm activities. They will enjoy the lost art of fiber and interact with one of the world’s most gentle creatures, llamas.
***** FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS
YEAR'S CAMP, GO TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE AND CLICK ON ART DAY CAMP.
This opportunity is currently being set up to begin after the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Walnut Ridge has been raising quality llamas for over 20 years! We have about 10-15 babies called "crias" born each year that are available for showing, breeding stock, guardian, and companion livestock.
We built a 34 site campground on the farm. It has been 80-100 percent full since we opened in October 2017. Campers get to enjoy the llamas, gather chicken eggs from the chicken coop, get vegetables out of the campground garden, and just enjoy a little piece of heaven on a farm while camping. Visit www.LazyLlamaCampground.com for more information.
The last few years we have had many requests for llamas as guardians for sheep, goats, and cattle. Gelded males and older female llamas appear to be the best candidates to use as guardians for farm livestock. Llamas bond well with all types of livestock. We have placed several llamas the last few years as guardians and companions. We encourage our new owners to take their llamas on hikes on the farm in addition to letting them be livestock guardians. We have goats at Walnut Ridge to help prepare our llamas to be used as guardians.
One of our recent customers, Kit Jackson, wrote this real nice note about Perfect Stranger, a gelded male that she purchased from us as a guardian for her Pygora goats and as a companion for her.
“Stranger has been a wonderful addition to our farm. We decided to have a Llama guardian for our goat herd since they are quite, low maintenance and just a neat animal to watch. He has been all of those things! I agree with those that say you should not have a solitary Llama as he seemed very lonely before the herd arrived. He was humming more often than not, and as I have read “a happy Llama does not hum”. Once the goats arrived, the integration was a non-event as he was gentle, patient and accepting of them right away. AND no more humming…unless the goats are distressed (vet visit) or I take him for a walk away from them. When the vet had to give shots all around and the goats were fussing, he paced the fence until we let him back into the paddock where he promptly went to the goat stall to “check” on everyone. His job is to be the big brother and deter predators from the goat herd. We have both coyotes and bobcats spotted on property, but to date, none have bothered the goats. We couldn’t be happier, thank you!”
It was a cool day in the fall when we were just getting the llamas ready for a show when they started "pronking" as they ran. Babies do this on late afternoons when it is play time.
The Maple Leaf pattern hangs on the barn at Walnut Ridge Farm. The farm owners, Jerry and Carolyn Ayers, have the original quilt hanging on a wall of their cabin nearby. It was made by Jerry’s grandmother, Pansy Evans, in the mid 1950s as a present for her grandson at his birth. Acquired by the couple in 1984, the farm is located in the beautiful Tennessee Valley with the Appalachian Mountains in full view only 15 miles away. Upon acquiring the land, Jerry and Carolyn built a log cabin and a small barn to house various breeds of farm livestock. The Ayers family made the decision to start raising llamas in 1998, and now they have one of the largest registered llama farms in the Southeast. They currently raise about 50 llamas that are sheared annually to produce beautiful silky & suri llama fiber that is processed into rovings, yarn and scarves. Approximately 10-15 baby llamas (crias) are born each year.
A few years ago we were showing llamas at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair Llama Show. Mark English and his family came to our stalls several times viewing our llamas and talking about possibly purchasing some. He wanted to train them to become “llama golf caddies.” Mark, Bonita, and his son Eric visited our farm a few weeks later. They purchased 6 young male llamas which we delivered to their beautiful farm in Brevard, North Carolina. Two years later, the llamas were trained and working as golf caddies on local golf courses in the Western North Carolina mountains. The English family and their llama golf caddies have been featured on AC360 (CNN) and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in England. Just recently the llamas were featured on the NBC Nightly News. We are proud of what Mark, Bonita, and Eric have accomplished with their llamas and we are proud of our little llama boys growing up to be famous golf caddies. Carolyn had tears in her eyes as she saw our boys on national television and said, “look at our babies.” Here is yet another answer to the age old question, “what do you do with llamas?”
Source: The Greeneville Sun
BY TOM YANCEY
Llamas from Greene County have been getting a lot of attention — international attention, even — since they moved to North Carolina and went to work as golf caddies. The llamas that are now caddies were born in Greene County and were featured a few weeks ago on a Greenville, S.C., TV station, which led to a story on CNN, which led to a story on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
On Sunday night, a long segment about the llamas and their work as caddies was the closing story on the NBC Nightly News. In that segment, another Greene Countian, Seth Saylor, a member of the Mars Hill College golf team, appeared with the local llamas at the request of his coach, who is also the course pro at Sherwood Forest Golf Course in Brevard. The Greene County part of the story started almost two years ago when Jerry and Carolyn Ayers, who operate Walnut Ridge Llamas in Chuckey, sold six llamas to Mark English, of Brevard, N.C. “We show llamas at the Mountain State Fair,” in Asheville, N.C., Ayers said Tuesday. English “kept coming by our stall” at the fair, and finally told the Ayers that he liked the look of their llamas best. “They’re the friendliest,” Jerry Ayers recalled English saying. Soon English, a “turf grass manager” for two golf courses near Lenoir, visited Walnut Ridge Llamas and spent most of a day there. In October 2007, he bought six llamas from Ayers and began training them. A year ago, English purchased six more llamas from Steve and Tammy Kinser, who have been raising llamas for about three years on East Allens Bridge Road. The Kinser llamas “can see the (Nolichuckey View) golf course” every day (just across East Allens Bridge Road), Steve Kinser said, which may have been at least a little help in getting them accustomed to their new jobs. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” English said in a telephone interview. Engish said he can’t really remember where the idea of using llamas as caddies came from, but the concept never left him once he had it.
‘THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY’
When he approached the board of directors at one golf course with his idea, “They thought I was crazy,” but that’s not the case now that worldwide publicity has made the llamas famous. The llamas are available as caddies every Tuesday and Saturday at Sherwood Forest Golf Course at Brevard, and for the next eight weeks they will be at Maggie Valley Golf Course every Thursday. English keeps the animals on his grandparents’ farm near Brevard. He trained them there, first leading them around the perimeter in a pack, then four at a time, then in pairs. He then started putting soft packs on their backs, added weight gradually and worked up to the wooden “cross trees” he uses now. Two golf bags can be attached to the trees. English said llamas are “natural” caddies, adding, “It was easy.” But Tammy Kinser says, “Just to see Mark deal with those llamas is amazing. Putting that many males together takes patience and some real talent,” she said. English said that when he takes his llamas by trailer to a golf course, unloads and feeds them, he then brushes them. The llamas are washed once a month. He sets up a “potty area” by putting a small amount of llama manure wherever the golf course wants the animals to “go to the bathroom.”
The llamas will not potty on the course, but will wait until they get back to that area, English and Ayers said. When English puts down his small amount of manure, the llamas find it, then they go back up to it, “shoulder to shoulder and butt to butt,” and poop. “They’re communal pottiers,” Ayers said. English also sets up a small “petting zoo” area and gives a little talk about safety, and then the llamas are ready to caddy.
In today’s golf world, “Caddying is a thing of the past,” English said. “I caddied when I was a kid,” and learned responsibility, and the kids he hires as handlers also can learn that, he said. Another part of what English says he wants to do with llamas is to get people off of golf carts, walking again, “and enjoying the course,” without having to “wag a golf bag around.” Right now he charges $40 for one llama to carry two sets of clubs on one 18-hole round of golf. “It’s a pretty darned good deal,” he said. A handler is part of the package, and on some courses, two are required, but often the golfers themselves end up leading the llama, and the handler just watches. Often children of golfers ask to lead, he said. Steve Kinser, an employee of Jardin Zinc Products, said the gentle nature of llamas is not the only reason they make good caddies.
“You very seldom hear a sound out of them,” he said, and best of all, they have a soft pad on the bottom of their feet, not a hoof. “They don’t tear up the course,” even on the wettest of days, Steve Kinser said. Brian Lautenschlager, the professional golfer at Sherwood Forest, agrees. A llama hurts the course “less than a golf cart,” he said. “Even deer create some damage” when they get on a golf course, he said, “but llamas don’t,” and they don’t litter either.
FUN AND CLEAN
“They’re a treasure to have around, and really fun,” said Lautenschlager. And lately, they’re great at bringing people to the course. The Sherwood Forest pro said “some of the locals” were not too happy about the llama caddies at first, “But when the grandchildren came to visit, the llamas were the first thing they wanted to check out,” he said. Now the llamas are becoming a point of local pride. Llamas do have toenails, and if they need to defend themselves, they can stand on their back feet and use their toenails. Males can bite unless their biting teeth are removed, and llamas are known for spitting, if they go on the defensive, but that’s rare.
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