Monday mornings – nope, not a fan. In fact, I’ve been known to get the Sunday blues just thinking about Monday. For the past few months however, I began starting my week by spending Monday morning outdoors in nature. While I typically head to Saratoga Spa State Park, last Monday I set off to Dakota Ridge Farm in Ballston Spa. I was going llama trekking!
When I arrived at the farm, owners Katrina and Gary greeted me, along with one of their chickens who was hopping a ride in a golf cart. Katrina’s first llama was a wedding gift from Gary. Twenty-six years later, and their family now includes thirty-five llamas, chickens, cats, and two border collies.
Llamas Thunder and Mike were to accompany us on our trek that morning. After a quick lesson in leading a llama and some back scratches later, Thunder and I were ready. Off we went on our hour-long trek, covering scenic stretches of the farm’s forty-three agricultural acres.
While I was initially regretting not scheduling the hike in October when the leaves were at their peak, I quickly fell into a zen-like state as the leaves crunched underfoot and the crisp Autumn air chilled my face. The fact that it was one of those Mondays where the yellow leaves look even more golden against the clear, blue sky didn’t hurt either. Halfway through the hike, we stopped at a picnic area on a bluff overlooking a stream. Although I had my phone out and was constantly snapping pictures of the goofy faced llama accompanying me, I felt worlds away from my usual connected and busy pace.
I didn’t think my Monday morning could get any better. However, once we were back at the barn Katrina asked if I wanted to hold and weigh the newest addition to their family. A baby llama (or cria as they’re called), was born just a few hours earlier. While I initially declined, thinking the moment was too precious to interfere with, I knew I would likely never have this opportunity again and quickly recanted. Mama llama anxiously looked on as I carefully picked up the tiny, but spunky cria and carried him to the scale. Mama Llama graciously spared me any spitting. The cria weighed in at a healthy 19.5 pounds and had the softest hair I had ever felt.
There was little doubt in my mind that I would have tried bringing the little fella home if only we had a few more acres. Till then, I’ll have to get my llama fix at Dakota Ridge Farm.
* This post is dedicated to “The Down Under Thunder” who passed away two days after leading our trek. I became mesmerized with watching Thunder on our walk. I later found out that Thunder was a very special 19 year-old boy who was known for being extremely gentle with children and all who met him.