By Linda Hayes & Kathy Stanko
A few years ago four llamas had the misfortune of being turned out on the desert in western Colorado. There, they were expected to fend for themselves. The owner said he didn't want them and if they were a bother, just shoot them.
This hit a raw nerve with Steve Grubb who lived nearby. Steve loves animals and knew he could help. With free hay supplied by Elmore Ferganchick of Eckert, he began caring for his new friends. The desert doesn’t have water nor trees for shelter. The only thing that kept the llamas alive through cold winters and one hundred degree summers was this one elderly gentleman.
Steve is a retired millwright who spent his career building doors for most of the buildings in the Delta area. He now hunts dinosaur fossils in the desert around his home.
The llamas quickly became a focus of his life. Steve is ‘Santa Claus’ to these woolly beings. Every day for three years, regardless of the weather, Steve has driven his jeep over a mile to take hay and water to them. Over time the llamas learned to trust him and he could mingle with them while they ate.
He will be moving from his place in a couple months. That left no one to care for the llamas. This distressed Steve as he had spent years calling Humane Societies, vets and others, with no one willing to help or even suggest a place to go. A chance meeting with an alpaca owner who told him about Southwest Llama Rescue (SWLR) changed everything. Steve contacted Linda Hayes of SWLR and a plan was put in place. With Glenn and Kathy Stanko’s help, a trailer and corral were set up at the llamas' feeding station. Because of the bond Steve had formed with the llamas, they were able to be locked into the corral for an hour or so each day.
During this same time period, a request for llamas came in to SWLR. A family in Western Colorado had owned llamas for years but most had died of old age. There was a lone surviving female that was despondent. A companion was needed and there was room for several. The prospective new owners had shelter, feed, water and were knowledgeable. They met Steve and passed site inspection.
So on a beautiful Friday morning, the ‘rescuers’, Steve, and new owners all met to get the llamas into the trailer and off to their new home. We all moved slowly and quietly inside the pen. Linda Hayes had brought a roll of perforated plastic garden fencing. We all grabbed on and slowly walked the llamas into the trailer. The llamas are now happily settling into their new lush location miles away from the adobe desert. Steve is now free to move without worrying about "his girls". And, a 25 year old, female llama is no longer alone and depressed.
Reprinted with permission from Rocky Mt. Llama & Alpaca Assoc. (RMLA) & the RMLA Journal.