Too much seriousness lately...the readers are getting restless. Then the following article blasted across my consciousness like a Howitzer


LA County says OK to couple's goats, llama, emu

Wed May 27, 12:11 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – A Southern California couple will not be allowed to have 15 goats. They'll have to settle for 10 goats, two horses, a llama and an emu.

Roberto Alguero (all-GEH'-roe) and Iris Fiorito (fee-oh-REE'-toe) live in an unincorporated area near Claremont zoned for light agricultural use. They had originally asked for a permit to keep 15 goats, but Los Angeles County's planning commission granted them a permit allowing them 10, along with the rest of their menagerie.

Neighbors filed objections complaining of the noise and stench at the farm-like house, but the Board of Supervisors ruled Tuesday that the couple could keep the animals, provided they build a 6-foot wall and keep male and female goats separate.

Fiorito concedes that "we know we have a few more goats than we should."

Not only does this article mention a llama (only in passing), but also an emu and lots of goats.  It seems there is a quota system in place in southern California.  As hard as the conservatives fight it, there is not the kind of goat freedom most expect in America.  I am glad they were allowed to keep the llama (and emu), but worry that the noble creature's significance has been overlooked.  I also wonder if the smell of 10 goats is that much different from that of 15.

So this got the llama part of my brain working.  We all do have llama parts of our brains, you know.  It's very close to the corpus callosum, just below the part of the brain dedicated to sudoku.  My llama brain segment is larger than most (not that I am bragging).  So I wondered if there were any other significant llama, goat, or even emu stories that I have missed.  Are there any new llama websites?  Is there a new version of the llama song?

Did you know Llamas eat from Frisbees?

Did you know Llamas eat from Frisbees?

So I set out on a quest for knowledge.

The first thing I found when Googling "Llama goat" was the various sites dedicated to "Guard Llamas."  No, this isn't like the National Guard, where llamas would be called to active duty in case of a national emergency (although it appears this may not be a bad idea), it appears that llamas are quite effective guards of sheep and goats against canine predators.  One website quotes the International Llama Association Educational Brochure #2:

Llamas, who are long-lived, can provide an effective, long-term and economical alternative for predator control in a variety of farm and ranch conditions. Sheep and goat producers currently using llamas to guard their flocks are experiencing high levels of protection from predators

This made me wonder if this couple was using the llama to guard their goats.  Perhaps predators are a problem in the neighborhood.  Perhaps they are using the llama to scare away pesky neighbors.  Perhaps the neighbors have pet coyotes. The explanation continues:

Llamas have proven to be very effective against canines, especially dogs and coyotes. Over half of the llamas guarding sheep are 100% effective, completely eliminating losses. Many of these producers previously suffered losses of over a hundred lambs per year. Some have not suffered a loss to predators in two to ten years after purchasing guard llamas. An additional 40-45% of the guard llamas were highly effective in dramatically reducing predator losses.

That explains the llama; but what about the emu?  Googling "guard emu" uncovered this incredible story:

Epileptic emu farmer frets over windmills

Published: April 13, 2009 at 8:44 AM

A Canadian emu farmer in northwestern Nova Scotia said he is concerned a proposed windmill nearby will kill his birds or trigger his epileptic seizures.Davey and Debi VanTassel run the Ocean Breeze Emu Farm in Gullivers Cove, and told The Chronicle-Herald newspaper in Halifax one of 20 proposed wind turbines will be about a half mile from their property.The couple said emus have been known to die from noise and vibration. They said a test mill erected last year in the county drove coyotes from the area to their farm, where five emus were killed this winter.

Debi VanTassel also told a recent community meeting she feared for her husband's health, as the flickering of sunlight through the windmill's blades could trigger epileptic seizures.

She said they avoid dances where strobe lights are used and they have no wallpaper in their home, as patterns can trigger a seizure, the report said.

Their town is considering a proposal to erect 20 turbine towers with an output of 30 megawatts, the newspaper said.

I have to admit that the headline was irresistible to me.  I don't think I would ever have put epilepsy, emus, and windmills together, even in my most creative moments.  But this story sheds light on the LA couple's llama.  I am not sure if either of them have epilepsy (the article neglects to include this important fact), but clearly coyotes attack emus when in the presence of epileptic farmers and windmills.  See my point?  The llama not only defends the goats from coyotes, but the emu as well.


So then I googled "epilepsy llama" to see if I could put all of the pieces together.  I did find a few articles that spoke of

berzerk llama syndrome

(a frightening thought) and some that talked of diseases that would make llamas have seizures, but nothing of llamas helping with seizures.  Certainly watching the llama song would put the epileptic farmer at risk.

Judge for yourself:

There is no question that this is far worse than a windmill.

I did find few possible clues into the mysterious llama-epilepsy connection as I searched the web for llama-related health discoveries:

So there you have it.  This has been an incredible learning experience for me, and I hope you feel the same way.  Here are the take-home messages of this blog post:

  1. Don't try to have more than 10 goats in Los Angeles.
  2. If you have anything that needs guarding, get a llama.
  3. Keep your emu from vibrating things.
  4. Dandruff and chemical warfare may become history thanks to llamas.
  5. Canadian farmers are a bit neurotic.
  6. The Llama Song is hard to get out of your head once you hear it.
  7. Avoid using the word "movement" too often in a paragraph.

Have a great day.