I was so excited when I got a chance to visit these sweet animals at their home and see what goes into caring for such beautiful creatures. They are handled by a one family farm specializing in two different kinds of services. One aspect of what they do is to share their llamas & alpacas in a therapeutic and educational environment, being able to bring joy to nursing homes & special-need schools. The community took so much joy with the company of Rojo and his friends they started to offer celebration services with couples for weddings and families for birthdays. Either way, bringing happiness into the world and help sharie the beauty of llamas & alpacas wherever they go.
It all began in 2006, when the family validated how exceptionally friendly and well behaved llama, Rojo was during an interaction with a child that had some disabilities while visiting the county fair. In 2007, they had Rojo certified in animal-assisted therapy and began growing the therapy herd in 2008. By 2011, these llamas were invited to their first wedding and several birthday parties. Because of how addicting llama love is, their reputation has been doubling or even tripling each year since.
“Our core ideals is that, as a faith-based non-profit, we feel we have been given a gift from God in our exceptionally friendly animals to share as a gift with our community. Through our animals we can offer genuine human interactions with those ‘untouched’ in the elderly and special-need community. It is through spreading even more joy at weddings and birthdays that we can continue to reach as many people as possible in therapeutic and educational ways.”
Soon this family hopes to offer farm visits and on-site one-on-one therapy interactions to reach even more people. As well as to offer certification courses allowing more therapy llamas and alpacas across the country to do what they do.
Helping others understand the low risks involved in inviting llamas and alpacas to their celebrations has been a major goal. When first sharing Rojo for therapy, they took a photo album to all the local nursing homes showing how wonderful their animals were, because no one was too keen on having a 400lb farm animal inside the facility.
“I love hearing people's minds change about how they perceive llamas and alpacas. So many people assume llamas are just dingy farm animals that spit when encountered. In fact, many llama owners view their llamas as their pets just as you view your dog. Pet llamas, seen in parades and at fairs, when treated with respect, will be very sweet and gentle animals”
As for future plans they would love to have more community-support through fundraisers and private donations. Right now they are primarily supported through entertainment-type events. The goal is to have less entertainment based events, allowing for even more therapy and educational ones.
There is always something to do in their industry, either working on animal outfits or organizing the farm to prepare for the public. When there is any free time, If not spending (a minimum of) 4 hours a day off the farm with an animal or catching up on emails, Shannon enjoys spending evenings off the farm playing board games or having a beer with friends to decompress.
“I would love to only share our animals Monday-Friday with nursing homes and schools with limited special events each year. It's financially unavailable to do that at this time, but that's where we are focusing to get to someday. But what we do is so truly incredible for the lives we get to touch that it's more than we expected when we started 10+ years ago that I couldn't ask for more.”
It was so great to see the tremendous work it takes to care for such animals and to see a family that cares so much for them! If you want to learn more about Shannon Joy, and the family farm, you can check them out online and please follow their adventures through Social Media.
Keep your eyes peeled for the many news and wedding features that are continuously coming out!!