Lesson: Go with community customs.
So, I was in Wyoming with my husband Bill, and our two dogs, busy staking and living in hotels for a few weeks. Wyoming is a GREAT state: pro-business, ranching, mining and our interest – a cooperative and pro-active state for in-situ recovery uranium extraction. Simply put, Wyoming has a long history with uranium and believes in nuclear energy (along with other forms of energy). How smart.
As part of our time there we met with all the ranchers to discuss the staking programs and work out surface rights agreements. Ranchers are busy people and have large tracts of land combined with large herds to work. It’s important to speak to the ranchers, and work things out, before you go on their land.
One day we were to connect with a rancher who was busy working his sheep. Trying not to intrude on his day, we all agreed to just lay out the maps on the hood of the truck and talk about the staking and access issues. As the conversation went along a llama appeared and seemed very curious about the new man (Bill) speaking to the rancher. Bill caught the llama approaching to his left and to say he was startled would be an understatement. The rancher told Bill to be careful, it was a guard llama and a bit of an a**hole.
“Does he spit and bite?” asked Bill.
Yes, said the rancher. “And kick”.
I found out after the fact that llamas are fantastic guard animals for herds of sheep, and cattle I guess. They are aggressive and run off predators better than most.
Only one problem today, the llama did not know if Bill was a predator and was sizing him up. Being unnecessary in the review of the map, I did the smart thing and moved to the other side of the truck. The dogs stayed inside staring at the llama, their looks clear – we did not expect to see that here.
I think the llama decided Bill was not a threat to the rancher or sheep and then he just seemed interested in his every word.
When things wrapped up, and they did so quickly as the rancher had much work to do before sunset, we jumped in the truck and left. Bill laughed, consulting with a llama was a first.
Yes, a first, but I reminded him of the time I was leading a project and sponsored a group of retired Indigenous National Hockey League players (complete with Stanley Cup rings) to fly up north and visit my remote camp and play a game with a local team. It was a great event to boost morale and bring the team and the community together.
As part of the hockey game ceremony, I was to drop the puck. What I did not know was the community had a custom at key local events… you had to kiss the llama. A red carpet was laid on the ice and the llama was waiting for me before I dropped the puck to start the game. And I kissed the llama, he was a nice llama. We keep in touch. 😊