There's a reason why I love this photo. I have it in color on the cover for my laptop. Llamas have a huge warm spot in my heart. It's time for me to tell this story on my blog. It's long overdue.
This is me four years ago visiting our family farm from my childhood. It was the first time I had been out there in many years. It was very emotional. This is the pier where my daddy and I fished off of all of the time when I was growing up. And not just weekends; it could be a Tuesday late afternoon right after he fed the horses and the other animals. We fished several times a week.
I don't know if this was our boat but we had a one just like this that we would take out onto the tank and around the corner to a cove that you can't see on the left. I remember watching the movie Passion Fish and at the end she is sitting in the metal boat and the water is splashing and the emotion of remembering that sound had a profound affect on me. It was the exact sound I had heard so many times; no other sound other than the water splashing against the side of the boat. Oh to hear that again...
This is from the same visit. This was our cabin on the farm. It did not look like this, of course, when we had it; it has been in a state of disrepair for many years now. After my dad sold the farm, the man who bought it turned it into a paying zoo. The cabin was made into a concession stand. When we were here three years ago there was a very old man living there. He wanted so very badly to do a lot with the land but had no one to help and he was not in good health. I plan to look into what the status of the farm is during my trip there next month.
This is me with our first llama, Chupi. I'll start the long story now. In 1968 my mom and dad put my sister and me in the car and told us they were taking us to show us a surprise. We were suspicious because we had been tricked into going to the dentist and/or the doctor for shots this way. We pestered them with questions the whole way out there. We had a home in town, Bryan, Texas, the home I grew up in but, unbeknownst to us (including my mom), my dad had had a lifelong dream of having an exotic animal farm. When we drove up that first time all that was there was only a bunch of tall grass, a tank, and the run-down cabin. We didn't know what to think but it seemed exciting-something new anyway.
The first animals to arrive were our first llama, Chupi; two pygmy goats, and two barbados sheep.
This is Penelope, my daddy's favorite llama. We had many over the years but none got as close to my daddy's heart as Penny did.
This is a photo was taken by my dad with me and the goats as was written by my dad on the back on the photo, below. The goat, Joe Willie, was named after Joe Willie Namath. These photos should explain why I love the smell of zoos and county fairs...farm animal smells in general, wonderful memory smells.
This is one of many photos that were taken during one of the rare snows we had while we had the farm. Two of the herd of llamas we had by then.
One of my favorite photos-of the tank in the snow with the swans swimming on it.
Just to the left of the building is one of the lot of wallabies, the small breed of kangaroos. This was their little house to keep them from wet or harsh weather.
Old Ed, my daddy's favorite kangaroo.
A herd of Mouflon sheep with their majestic horns.
Wallabies. Check out the fences and in the left corner is a loft for them.
One of the bridges Dad built, the best because it allowed us to look out over our large tank and not get bit by the swans. (That's my sister, Valori, Greg Stiles, and me on the bridge.)
One of the grown ostriches.
Last but not least, my favorite of all the animals, this is Tommy, the Thomson gazelle we had. He was just the sweetest. (Jill Hyde feeding Tommy)
The list of all of the animals we had over the ten years that we had the farm. Over those years my dad and his business partner, Ray, built thousands of feet of fencing, several bridges, many animal houses and stairs for the goats to enjoy climbing, a two story home for Ray and his family, and a place where our family got to experience all those years something quite rare. In our little one room cabin we had a kitchen, bathroom, and a regulation sized pool table. We had a great porch on that cabin. We spent a lot of time every weekend and some during the week out at the cabin communing with the animals, fishing, and shooting a lot of pool. Every year in elementary and junior high my class got to ride the school bus out to our farm. And, as my sister and I got older, we got to take friends and boyfriends out to enjoy amazing animals, shoot pool, and drink cold beer. We had a very special family and were so blessed. My mom has the album of all the photos of the farm which are many more than shown here. Someday I will get to scan and add them. The fun was endless and so are the great memories.