Sisters Atika Alomari and Ashaimwa Alomari said they decided to walk some llamas after looking for something different to do Friday afternoon.
“We were always seeing these pictures of smiling llamas,” 28 year-old Ashaimwa said.
The two said they were fascinated with the animals after seeing numerous memes, so they found a walk with llama event on Facebook and decided to give it a shot.
The event is offered by Benjamin Rabb, owner of Jock River Alpaca and Llama farm in Richmond.
Seventeen-year-old Rabb has been running the farm since he was 10, with the primary objective to make money from shearing the the llamas and alpacas and selling the fleece. However, just over a year ago he began using the animals as an agro-tourism project to subsidize his earnings.
This is when Rabb started the Walk with Llama event, where for up to an hour a group of two to 12 people can walk with a llama or alpaca along the Jock River — for $35 a person.
Rabb runs the event through Wandure, an Ottawa tech startup’s app that describes itself as “Uber for travel activities.” The event is posted on the Wandure app and people can book on the available dates. Atika and Ashamwar said they booked their walk through the app.
Rabb said he gets all types of attendees but the most common are those looking for a unique spot to take a date.
Rabb said he enjoys the chance to meet people, but has experienced some who aren’t used to the rugged landscape the walk takes them on.
“There’s a few people who are over the top sometimes … like they don’t want to walk through the mud or whatever,” he said, adding he understands their concerns.
However, short of one guest being kicked at because of a horsefly, Rabb said there haven’t been any horror stories.
“We haven’t had a llama attack or anything like that,” he said.
On top of serving as a hobby, Rabb’s farm is a sanctuary to several of the llamas and alpacas who call it home.
“There’s probably half if not more are rescues,” he said.
“This guy Pete,” he said pointing to a nearby white alpaca, c ame from a farm about 10 minutes away … He wasn’t getting along with their herd. He would pick a fight and then all of them would start ganging up on him, so there would be 20 piling onto him.”
Others were in the care of people who couldn’t take care of them.
“This guy,” he said pointing to a nearby alpaca, “you could see all his ribs. I guess she couldn’t afford to feed them or something.”
Not all are as innocent, though.
Rabb walked over to a large male llama named Larry and explained he was taken from a nearby farm after trying to mate with sheep. “He just about killed a couple. They didn’t want him around anymore.”
Rabb said this isn’t uncommon with male llamas. “Some males just get it in their head that anything small they have to mate. So that’s why you have to keep the two genders separate.”
Rabb, who graduated from South Carleton High School this year, said he hopes to pursue a carpentry apprenticeship in the fall but has no plans in shutting down the farm or the walking event.
He said he enjoys the work and never finds it overwhelming, dedicating an hour each morning before school and at least an hour in the evening to take care of his 36 friends.
After owning them for seven years, Rabb said he knows knows all the ins and outs of llama and alpaca care. When asked what is the most important thing to know about them, Rabb said there is a lot of misconceptions when it comes to their reputation for spitting.
“People always think they like to spit,” he said with a laugh. “Which is true when there’s feed involved. They’ll spit at each other, but they don’t really spit at people.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019