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Raising Llamas in Central Illinois
Kris Allen never really planned on raising more than two dozen llamas on the family farm near Bluffs.
"We started in llamas in 1991," Allen said. "And we did it as a project for our kids. We thought it would be a good family activity. Well, our children have grown up and moved on, and mom has stuck with it."
She especially loves working with the little ones, like six-month-old Zykyra.
"They are called a cria," Allen said. "Each one of them has a different personality. She is very nosy, very curious, she loves to check you out, get right in your face and say, 'Who are you?,' but when you go to touch her she'll jump and run."
But these animals have a nasty reputation for what they do with their saliva.
"Primarily llamas will spit as a defense mechanism," Allen said. "Like a dog will bite, a llama will spit to defend itself if it thinks you're going to hurt them. They will spit to protect their crias. They will also spit at each other primarily over food to determine who's boss."
The animals here at K&T Llamas tend to mind their manners around people.
"Our llamas are used to being around a lot of people," Allen said. "They've never been abused or mishandled so they don't spit at people--rarely."
She doesn's slaughter her animals for meat. The commodity is the llama hair.
"It makes beautiful, luxurious, blankets, scarves, hats, socks," Allen said. "It's very soft, and lots of people who are allergic to the sheep products are not allergic to the llama. It does not itch, like regular sheep's wool does. I do a lot of hand spinning. I make a lot of yarn. Also, I have learned to weave. Some of the scarves over here are done on a loom. Some are knitted. We also ship some of our wool to a llama fiber co-op."
Between the weaving and the kisses from Zykyra, Allen plans to be in the llama business for a while.
"As long as I am healthy and able," Allen said. "We have made some wonderful friends through the llamas, and it's something that, when people retire they take up llamas, as a retirement project, so I hope to continue with it for a long time."
Reporting in Scott County, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.