Friday, May 23, 2014


Shaw Island Llama/Alpaca Club

After 15 years I have finally "resigned" from 4-H on Shaw.  I worked with the children and llamas (alpacas included) for 10 years and birders for 7 years.  This year most of the children are moving off island after school ends, so I said it is time!

The Llama Club was a wonderful experience, as I learned mostly from the kids themselves as they interacted with their animals.  When we started there was very little in terms of info on how to go about this. We started with two boys (cousins) doing only showmanship where the child is judged on how he well he handles the llama. The  animal itself is not judged, though must be well groomed.

The following year we had two more islands join us, which made the competition more fun. In 10 years we had 8 national judges who loved working with the kids.  They could not tell one club from another as there was so much positive interaction. The older kids would help the younger ones and there was a lot of fun between clubs- I am told unheard of on the mainland. One year we won the coveted Black & White Ribbon, given to the best barn or exhibit  at the fair.  It is a state award and not always given. The judge was amazed at how well the kids performed but especially how they interacted.
The Black & White Award

It was not an easy thing to get 10 kids and 10 animals on the inter-island ferry, but for one year, it always went smoothly, thanks to caring parents and ferry crew.  The bad year was when 2 llamas and 4 alpacas were left behind with a father driving the trailer. He was clueless regarding handling so it was a few bad hours but we got it all sorted out with help at the fair end. Carl was able to unload the animals but then slept in the truck, catching the early morning ferry next day. There were articles & letters in the news the next day, we had apologies from Olympia, etc. etc. all due to bad loading by ferry crew.

John teaching his llama to kush
Amy haltering her alpaca
After a few years the kids decided they would like to try an obstacle course, which meant a lot more training, but the kids loved it!  They put their llamas over jumps, through hoops, into wading pools, always trying to simulate a course found in nature if the animals were being used for packing.

As a way of practice before the fair, the kids walked their llamas in the annual Shaw 4th of July parade, always a bit hit!

Ian on Show Day

Samuel Showing

Becca unloading her llama

The Shaw Birding Club (which I have written about in past Blogs) was a lot of fun. We met most Saturdays, scouring the Island for birds.  The projects through the years were varied: what do birds eat, where are they found, when do they arrive or leave, etc. etc.  Then came the “famous” CROW project, which gave them a single species to focus on, and last year they built their blind to study the Steller’s jays.    

Birding at Sea

Best of Show

One girl who has birded with me the longest, is doing her graduation project on the Birds of Shaw Island and is excited about the family’s move, as she is already scouting new birds.

Always nice to pass on the baton- or in this case bird seed? 

2013 Jay Project

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