By JACQUELINE M. DOMIN
After reading about llamas, Teri Conroy decided to take a few in as rescues. She figured she’d have a good idea of how to relate to them, having grown up with a backyard horse.
She was wrong.
She had a hard time connecting with them. When she'd try to get close to the llamas, they’d try to push her away. Conroy figured they didn't like her.
Then she met a woman with a llama farm. She explained to Conroy that llamas are naturally territorial. In other words, it was nothing against Conroy.
"It turned out the rescues I thought hated me were lovely animals," she said.
Having "learned llama," Conroy shifted from rescue llamas to animals of her own, buying three that she and her husband and daughter took care of on their property in Altamont. That number multiplied as the family "fell in love," Conroy said.
Today, Wunsapana Farm is home to 18 llamas and one alpaca that Conroy jokes thinks he's a llama. On a typical day, Conroy is up at 5 a.m. to tend to the animals and doesn't turn in until about 11 p.m., after spinning some llama yarn.
She also spends a lot of time out in the community, bringing llamas to libraries, festivals and community events. It's important to her to educate the public about llamas, to give people their own opportunity to "learn llama."
"I'd love to see more people have llamas like they have horses," she said.
Conroy's next public appearance with her llamas is Saturday, Oct. 13, at Faddegon's Nursery in Latham. She'll take part in the family fun day, as she did last year.
"It was a great success," she said. "Everybody loves, loves, loves the llamas."
To be honest, the llamas' appeal is a bit mystifying to Conroy, who says hundreds of people have visited her farm, and many describe it with words like "magical" and “peaceful.”