hangin’ with the llamas

I’ve been kidnapped by camelids:

You can click to embiggen if you don’t believe me.

Autumn Mist

But from the looks of things, I don’t really need rescuing:


In fact, please don’t rescue me, because the gorgeous girls you see above are all part of Nicholas’ imaginative pre-Christmas surprise: a secret trip to a wonderful llama-farm-slash-bed-and-breakfast.

High Hope

We’d originally planned a week off driving from blustery Canada to spend the holidays with my family in Illinois. At some point in the planning process, I came up with the idea of the two of us spending a day or two alone–you know, having one of those vay-cay-shun thingies everyone talks about.

It was then that Nicholas decided I needed a huge treat, and he proceeded to plan the entire itinerary himself, complete with secret sidetrips along the way, to be revealed only at the last possible minute.

Only one hint was given: He told me I might want to take boots suitable for walking around in the mud,  and perhaps clothing that could get dirty wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

“Dirty?” says I, all innocence and shine-of-face.

“Dirty,” says he, flailing a bit at being pressed. “You know…dirty. As in, you wouldn’t mind if someone…spit on them.”

“Spit on them!?? Who is going to spit on me?” says I, blinking my eyelashes at him charmingly.

This is where he really started to sweat.

“Welllll….we’re going to be seing Beth and Jason’s new baby, right? You are going to want to hold her, and she’ll spit up on you. So I meant spit up, not spit.”


I admit that at that point, I truly hadn’t guessed what his plans were. The result was that I climbed into the car on Monday morning without a clue as to where we were driving, or what route we were taking, or even where we were going to sleep that night.

I didn’t find out until several hours later. It was after dark when we pulled into the circular driveway of Topliff’s Tara Bed & Breakfast, a working llama farm and small B&B inn in beautiful Williamston, Michigan. It was so dark, in fact, that I couldn’t really see the bright red barns very well:

And I certainly did not see the words “Llama Farm” nor the cute images of llama faces on the sign out front.

It wasn’t until we were being shown around the cozy kitchen area of the inn that I began to realize this was more than just a romantic trip to a not-so-ordinary bed & breakfast. I looked up, and perched up on one of the shelves was a small statue of a llama. I laughed, and pointed, and said, “Oh, look, honey, it’s a llama!”

The little fellow that started it all

Innkeeper Sheryl and husband Nicholas exchanged amused, yes-we-know-that glances, and after a moment or two of silence, Sheryl let me know the final part of the surprise: “Well, yes, it is a llama–because this is a working llama farm.”

I believe I may have actually squealed out loud. I do know that at some point I was kissing Nicholas in front of Sheryl and telling him he was the best husband ever. It’s possible there may have also been a certain amount of bouncing up and down and saying “Llama farm! We get to see llamas!” about every forty seconds or so.

I then found out that not only was it a working llama farm, but our host Sheryl is actually a spinner and a knitter herself, and her husband Don is a weaver (in addition to his day jobs as commercial pilot and llama wrangler). The thick, warm throw rugs on the floors were Don’s creations; and around the inn are scattered evidences of Sheryl’s passion for spinning wheels. In fact, when I went into our room’s bathroom and looked up at the skylight, I saw this:

Bathroom ledge decor

Want a better look? Sure you do.

Not every bathroom comes complete with spinning wheel. But the past couple of days, ours did.

Over the course of our two-day stay, we got to hang out with the llamas for a while each morning along with our hosts, and I took about six hundred photos of cute llama faces and cute llama blurs (because llamas can move very fast when they want to, or when there is food to be had). I obviously have quite a bit of photo sorting to do; I’ll have more photos and stories to share about the llamas and the inn over the next week or so.

Truth be told, I’m writing this on Christmas Eve morning, and it’s about time to go fix a cup of coffee and wrap some more presents.

But before I go, just a few more photos from our stay at Topliff’s Tara.

The guest house (near) and innkeeper's home (far)

"Where's the food?"

Don and newly-named cria "Hawk"

The food has arrived!

Looking at the funny humans

Hawk, ready for his close-up

Sandi in her natural habitat

Look at all that gorgeous fibre!


High Hope bids us farewell until next time

Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace and bright blessings to all creatures, great and small…

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
This entry was posted in Animals, Spinning, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to hangin’ with the llamas

  1. Lisa says:

    What a terrific surprise! Can we arrange for him to have a chat with my husband?? The farm and B&B is gorgeous. Glad you had such a nice time.


  2. Sheryl says:

    I was equally delighted in having you stay with us. Thank you for the wonderful Blog. You have inspired me to get “with it” and get blogging. Enjoy the fiber.


  3. sarahw says:

    Lovely pictures of a fabulous surprise… I confess, I am envious of teh cute. Did you get spit at? Surely not!


  4. Lynn says:

    Awwww, that’s so nice! Merry Christmas to you both!


  5. Danyelle says:

    Nicholas Scores! Big points for your hubby. What fun. 🙂


  6. Mardi says:

    Oh, what a marvelous place, and such a perfect place for the PacaPrincess to be taken. The bestest holiday surprise I’ve heard about this year. Glad you had such a great trip, and weren’t spat upon. Those llamas knew better.


  7. naomi says:

    What a wonderful surprise stop!


  8. Sara G-L says:

    First, I must say what a great hubbie you have – who really takes the time to think of something special like the Llama B&B!
    Second, I am so glad to have found your blog! I first enjoyed your writing about knitting plus on KD and really missed it when you stopped. I did find “Whats on Sandi’s needles” and now I realize you have your own blog too! Great to “hear” your voice and all your stories as well as great knitting info.
    Third, I must say I almost had a heart attack when I noticed little white spots floting down my screen – well, not MY screen but my husbands and I wondered what I must have done to his computer!!! Then I realized it was snow! How did you do that?
    Fourth, Hope you keep on blogging as long as it makes you happy cause it makes alot of other people happy too.
    Happy New Year!


  9. Jodi says:

    Your husband is so full of win, honey! I have to admit to being green with envy over here at the thought he put into that wonderful trip. You so deserve it, my friend, and I’m glad you had a wonderful time! ((hugs))


  10. Avedaggio says:

    That’s fantastic! You do have a great hubby.

    *hugs!!* Avedan


  11. Sharon C. says:

    Merry Christmas, and by now, Happy New Year! So glad I found your blog. I have been missing your voice. I am still new at this, so I don’t know if there’s a way to have your page let me know if you write something new. Any suggestions?
    And what a super thing you did, Nicholas!


  12. Turner says:

    What a wonderful surprise! Thanks for sharing it with us. I am curious: What inspires them to spit and does it happen frequently? (Glad you didn’t experience it personally!)


  13. Vicki Williams says:

    Belated Merry Christmas! I feel as if I got a special Christmas present myself by finding this blog. I have really missed you writing the Knitting Daily posts. They just aren’t the same. boo hoo hoo.

    I saw the temps up in Canada this morning. Shiver, shiver….and here I’m thinking 29 degrees at 3:00 in the afternoon is pretty cold! (Well, I do live in Georgia). Have a great New Year and enjoy the challenges that come your way.

    Please do keep the blog going! I love your style of writing and what you write about. Fun, eclectic and witty.

    What a great Christmas surprise you were given. Sounds like so much fun and full of the right kind of adventure!

    Knit On……


  14. Michelle says:

    Dear Sandi: I have read and admired your work for several years now, and like many others found you at Knitting Daily. Your writing is so full of wit and good sense and charm that I missed it when you moved to Canada. What a lovely New Year’s gift to have found your blog.

    About something you wrote several entries ago (who you are writing this blog for): I have always thought that bloggers write for themselves, and I hope that is the case for you. Not that it isn’t interactive, or a gift to others, and this by no means implies that writing for oneself is selfish. Some are driven to express themselves in writing, just as some are driven to bake bread or to become surgeons or to knit things! How fortunate for those of us whose great passion is reading. I hope that you will find pleasure and fulfillment in blogging for yourself for a good long time.

    I hope you and your Nicholas and your beautiful cats and dog have a very warm and happy and healthy New Year.


    p.s.: No need to answer this. I assume you have a life outside your blog! That said, thank you for sharing it with us.


  15. Deb Soike says:

    Hi,I’m so glad to have found your blog. I followed your knitting discussions on IK and missed your voice.

    Don’t take the time to reply…I just had to say HI and hope you have a happy and healthy New Year.


  16. MariAngel says:

    Sandi, I wish you and yours a happy new year.
    I finally found your personal blog thanks to a thread on Ravelry. I was already a reader of the KD blog, What’s on Sandi’s needles, and felt that there was something missing.
    As you can tell, I looked forward to receiving my KD newsletter because there was always something interesting, exciting, new, didn’t matter what it was, you made it sound like it was the next bestest thing since sliced bread. I miss that voice back at KD but life moves on.
    Now that I’ve found your blog, I will be dropping by for a visit and see what you’ve been up to often.
    From a fellow Ontarian,



  17. Sharon V says:

    OMG! I was on Ravelry tonight and the link to this page was there. I’m so overjoyed to find you!

    Happy New Year! Being here feels like ‘home’! This is going to sound corny, but thank you for having a blog page.


  18. Paula says:

    I am so glad to have found this blog, Sandy! We met briefly at Sock Summit (along with thousands of other knitters!) and I have enjoyed your writing tremendously. You make me feel like I can knit this stuff, too.

    Thanks for keeping me inspired to try new things and not worry when it doesn’t quite work out the first time.


  19. donna lee says:

    I’m so glad to have found you again. I miss your wisdom and charm on KD but it looks like you’re having a good time up there in the frozen north. I was thinking what a good idea to have a b&b with an alpaca farm. Too bad it’s so far away.


  20. SharonM says:

    I just found this site too. And I’m so glad!!

    The photos of the llamas were wonderful. Tuscany is gorgeous! And so is High Hope. And the rest of the herd are beautiful too.

    Amongst your finished projects you’ve listed the Pretty Thing Cowl. I wrote you elsewhere about it with no reply – probably because you were switching over to a new site. I’d still like to know what you think about your finished cowl and the alpaca yarn’s ‘memory’.

    I finished the Snowdrop Cowl in alpaca/silk and it’s stretchy, but it can be pulled back into shape. The recipient loves it! But she’s not a knitter and I’d like to hear what a knitter thinks about cowls and alpaca/silk. I’m making a second one now and using fewer stitches. I’m using up the leftover balls of yarn from two pair of Winter Twilight Mitts – I had to substitute yarns, so I have multiple leftovers.

    That was pretty cool that you got that close to the torch! I don’t expect to and I live right here in B.C. on the Lower Mainland.


  21. madonnaearth says:

    Love the fair isle fake LOVE IT!!!


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