Although Lucky Us Farm in York Springs is closed for the winter season, people can still learn about the animals that characterize the farm through a children’s book.
With characters inspired by llamas and alpacas on the farm, the book is called “The Day the Farmer Went on Strike: How Llamas and Alpacas Learned About Cooperation.” The book was written by Chris Penner, who co-owns the ranch with her husband, Kevin, and includes illustrations by Amy Zimmerman.
Penner, who shares the same first name as the farmer in the tale, said she works to keep the farm neat and tidy for her herd of llamas and alpacas to be happy. She decides to strike when the animals refuse to cooperate in return.
The animals learning to own a farm without rules “isn’t as cool as one might expect,” Benner said.
Benner said the book teaches children “a positive message of responsibility, appreciation, and cooperation.”
“Alpacas and llamas realized they needed rules,” she said. “It’s kind of a true story. It’s the story I live every day.”
Benner said she believes adults will find the book “relatable”, while children will be “entertained” and love the illustrations.
With a passion for writing, Penner said the animals provided her with a lot of “writing material” through their interactions.
She said, “I don’t see them as llamas or alpacas.” “I see them as my friends, my people.”
Alpacas and llamas face similar challenges as do people, from motherhood to bullying. She said she enjoys thinking of exaggerated human versions of animals.
In the future, Benner hopes to write more books and possibly create a series.
“This is my icebreaker to get the ball rolling,” she said.
York Springs Ranch, which is home to 13 alpacas and six llamas, is expected to open in April, after winter.
To tell the difference between llamas and alpacas, Benner said it comes down to size. Llamas are twice the size of an alpaca, and weigh an average of 350 pounds. She added that alpacas weigh an average of 150 pounds. Llamas and alpacas come from Peru and are used to cold weather, she said, adding that their wool is “very warm”.
In 2019, the couple lived with a llama breeder in Peru, walking 42 miles over the Andes Mountains and learning more from the descendants of their animals.
She said the llama serves as a watchdog for the farm’s alpaca herd.
“They find it difficult to discern danger,” Benner said, noting that tulips or wild turkeys could be enough for them to sound an alarm.
In their area, the greatest danger to llamas and alpacas is dogs.
“Fortunately, nothing has gone into our field to pose a real danger,” Benner said.
One of the farm’s well-known llamas, Conswala, was a national finalist for the Cadbury Bunny competition in 2019 and 2020. The 17-year-old llama is also a registered therapy animal, according to Benner.
Three llamas on the ranch are named after previous first ladies, including Eleanor, Rosalynn, and Jacqueline, as well as two others: Spring Kiss and Verano.
The alpacas on the farm are Gloria, Honey, Calisay, Adagio, Miami Vice, Olivia, Lucia, Rum Chata, Frances, Abigail, Betty, Louisa, and Theodore.
From a quiet place people visit to offering unique lessons and live events, the farm has a wide range of special opportunities. The ranch will also serve as a special event or wedding venue and will offer more shows in that area in the future, according to Benner.
The book, which was published last year, is available for purchase on Amazon. To stay up to date on Lucky Us Farm and their spring events, follow their website at luckyusfarm.net or the business’ Facebook page.