Have you ever contemplated on how a seemingly small
event or decision evolves into a life changing experience?
Becoming llama owners did that for our family. It started
with land purchases around our home to preserve scenic views
to our lake and to maintain the quiet solitude to which
we had become accustomed, all in the city limits of Winston-Salem,
After accumulating all the vacant acreage Michael came up
with another mid-life crisis idea. The Four Ladies have
all seemed to benefit from the other four or five he had
so why not try another. The West family was going to start
a farm, build barns, erect fencing (4000 feet, all installed
by the family), and buy a couple of llama.
was the Ladies’ reaction. “Well if you want
llama, we want miniature horses!” Being a family that
works together, off we went in search of the perfect two
llama and two miniature horses. By Christmas of 2003 we
had found them and took the first steps in our journey to
a life on the farm. By the end of the first year we had
three dogs, three barn cats, four horses, and ten llamas.
now have over 40 llamas and intend to maintain a select
group of no more than 50. Mind you that Michael never had
a pet as a child, but Patricia had shown horses and grew
up around a farm atmosphere. We both wanted the later experience
for our three daughters.
We are Michael and Patricia West. Along with the most
wonderful children in the world, Megan, Kristin, and Addison,
we constitute the Four Ladies and Me. Patricia was a preschool teacher for eighteen years and was in merchandising
display and design for the ten years prior.
She now owns a unique retail store in a restored historic
mill owned by the West's that sells North Carolina made
products, crafts, and art. Michael is an
architect and was president of one of the largest architectural
practices in the Carolinas.
In 2006 he sold his architectural business and convinced his
family to move to the country. They purchased 55 acres about
15 miles west of Winston-Salem. Michael spent the next two
years designing and laying out a new farm, erecting 9000
feet of fence (not installed by the family this time-a
condition for going along with the move), building barns and
a home, developing projects, restoring the Bethania Mill,
planting 5 acres of grapes on the farm, starting a wine
business with friends (Divine Llama Vineyards), converting the old farm
house on the new farm to a wine tasting facility and working
as a consultant to his former firm. In late 2008 he opened a
new architectural practice. Both of us having design engrained
in our character, the choice of llama is a natural fit.
We were initially drawn to them by their unique beauty and
grace. Once we got our first few we quickly discovered their
diverse personalities, gentle spirits, intelligence, curiosity,
and pasture antics. Our fascination turned into a passion.
We also quickly befriended other llama owners, most of whom
share a similar passion for their animals. It is one of
the most “caring and sharing” groups ever assembled.
We feel fortunate to be part of such a community of fine
We spend most of our spare time with our
practicing animal husbandry, sharing them with children
and friends, making public appearances, holding farm camps
and birthday parties, hiking, taking evening strolls, cart
driving in the neighborhood, performing farm chores and
watching our animals from the house or chairs in the pastures.
We are often asked, “Isn’t it a lot of work?”
It does occupy a lot of our time but we rarely think of
it as work. You will never appreciate the pleasure derived
from these animals until you own them. Because of them our
family has experienced more joy individually and as a unit
than can be imagined. The Saturday morning birth of our
ensuing day when all Four Ladies and Me were home is an
unforgettable memory. A serene scene of grazing llama at
sunset interrupted when one, followed by the entire herd,
decide to pronk around the pasture can not be adequately
described. The incredible elegance of a proud male or stretchy
female running to the top of their dirt mound and presenting
their statuesque pose is nature’s art in motion. Having
a three hundred fifty plus pound (but appears like five
hundred pounds with the fiber), six foot, fuzzy creature
walk up to you, look you in the eye with their captivating
huge black eyes and long eye lashes, lean over and put their
head on your shoulder for a cheek rub is the epitome of
a bonding experience.
We suppose it is obvious that the foundational reason for
our growing ownership in llama is enrichment of our own
lives. At the same time, part of the fun is buying, raising
and selling llama of the type we enjoy. Our goals are to
have a breeding program focused on gentle inquisitive personalities,
medium to larger bone, medium and heavy wool, fine silky
single coats, taller height, an array of colors, and award
winning conformation. Bloodlines are mainly South American
with some North American. Because we
enjoy showing, we strive to buy and breed for animals with
presence that stand out in the arena. The irony is just
because a llama is a grand champion does not exclude it
from being the most huggable pet on the farm. Our own BAL
In A Heart Beat and LW Sante Fe are prime examples.
We have surrounded our family with beauty. God has blessed
us with these gifts and we are compelled to share them.
Call or e-mail us for a visit. We’re looking for an
excuse to halter one up.
Michael and Patricia West
(plus Megan, Kristin and Addison)
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