this llama loves his sheep

Once upon a time in 1996 I moved to New England from the midwest. On the drive east with my then boyfriend (we were married a few months later), I saw a sign for moose crossing, and having never actually seen a moose, wondered out loud just how big a moose is – they must be pretty big if people are so worried about hitting them in their cars. Will explained to me that they really are pretty big. I, knowing that size is relative*, asked, “Well, how big? Like the size of a telephone pole?” He calmly replied, “Yes,” and I inspected telephone poles all the way to our destination, marveling that any four-legged animal could be that big.

Later that week I met Will’s friend Betsi, and we got onto the subject of Maine – she wanted to move there some day** – and, of course, moose. She corroborated Will’s information on the moose, telling me with sincerity to drive carefully! Moose are as tall as telephone poles! And honestly, I was confused – if moose are that tall, wouldn’t it be less likely that people would hit them? Wouldn’t most people just drive right between their legs? Betsi had all kinds of horror stories. That conversation led to a trend of me driving like a little old woman, and keeping a tight lookout at the height of about twenty-five feet whenever I happened to be a passenger in someone else’s car. Is that a branch in that stand of trees? OR AN ANTLER?!

Flash forward about eight years from that conversation. At a friend’s wedding I’m at a table for ten, along with both Betsi and Will, and we’re talking about Maine, and the house that Betsi is looking to buy. The conversation turned to all things Maine, including lobster and bears, and of course, moose. I said something to the effect of, “I had no idea they were so big! I mean, the size of telephone poles – it’s unbelievable!” And the conversation ground to a screeching halt. Everyone stared at me. I looked to Betsi and Will in the confusion, and found them both red-faced & trying not to giggle. My mouth opened wide as a dinner plate as I gaped at the two of them in realization that they had pulled off this stunt with me for eight years. And that I had never bothered to question either of them.

Which is why last night when Skipper told me that llamas guard sheep and Will confirmed it, I totally ran to Google.

Well, I’ll be damned – llamas do guard sheep! Apparently they hang out with the flock, and if a coyote approaches, they have been known to kick the pants off that doggie! Also, they are known to trip a running coyote, and then sit on its head! I’m going to be thinking about this for days.

I leave you, fair reader, with my original imaginings of the potential dangers of driving in New England, construction and moose included. Giant moose enters around 2:5o.


*Often this takes new twists when speaking with men who are trying to impress women.
**She lives there now, as it turns out – she owns a successful business providing doggie day care, and dwells among moose and bears.