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Discover why one family traded their home in Washington, DC for Washington, Vermont, and how their ingenuity with a flock of Romney sheep, Angora rabbits and South American llamas helped make life on an 18th century farm fashionable for artists and visitors who want to escape to a simpler time.
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Fun Facts about Romney Sheep
- Wool from Romney sheep is desired by hand spinners due to its lustrous fleece which hangs in separate locks for easy cleaning and wool preparation, making it ideal for purposes from sweaters to rugs.
- The low grease content of Romney wool makes the weight loss of washed fleeces minimal.
- Originally from the marshy area of Kent, along the windswept south coast of England, where climate and geography led to development of a breed resistant to foot rot and fleeces that remain healthy in harsh weather.
- The first Romneys were imported to North America in 1904 by William Riddel of Oregon.
Llamas are members of the camel family. Like their smaller relative, the alpaca, they are domesticated animals, bred for thousands of years in South America as beasts of burden. Their fur is used for a number of purposes, including clothing, rugs and rope. But it is their reputation as legendary pack animals that has made the llama a treasured institution in South America. Known as the "ship of the Andes," the llama has been a crucial part of the South American transportation system in mountainous regions. They have been part of religious ceremonies. Mummified llamas have been found entombed with their owners; tiny bronze llama sculptures have been found at various burial sites. They are strong, agile and gentle creatures that are able to bear large loads. Their hooves are much like that of a deer, which results in less trail damage than a packhorse or a mule. And they can be trained to follow and walk with you at your own pace, which makes them the ideal pack animal to take along on a hike. At the Northern Vermont Llama Company in North Waterville, you can do just that. They offer "llama treks" — a hike in the woods with trained llamas that carry all your picnic and hiking supplies for the day. All that's required is the ability to hold a leash and walk. Llamas are calm, curious animals that behave well with children. Lindsay Chandler, from Northern Vermont Llama Company, says they are easier to walk than dogs. "They walk the same speed as we do," she explains, "so if you're a hiker, it's the greatest animal to just walk with, because generally, they walk right along with you." Host Marianne Eaton joins Lindsay on a llama trek with a few friends and a big picnic lunch that she didn't have to carry.
- Northern Vermont Llama Co.
Geoff & Lindsay Chandler
766 Lapland Road
Waterville, VT 05492
- Stowe Llama Ranch
Chris and Linda Wood
2363 West Hill Road
Stowe, VT 05672