Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 459

Llamas and Alpacas


Hello Everyone



Have you ever passed by a field and thought, “That is a very strange-shaped sheep?”


You saw an animal with lots of woolly fur but an extremely long neck – but it wasn’t a sheep at all but a llama – or perhaps it was an alpaca.


How can you tell the difference?


Well, the quickest way to tell might be to just look at their ears.


Llamas have long, banana-shaped ears and alpacas have short, pointed ears.


Llamas get to be bigger and heavier than alpacas.  Llamas can grow up to nearly 2m or 6 feet tall, so that is as tall as a tall man.


Llamas have longer faces and alpacas have more fur on theirs. You can see this very clearly in the Picture Gallery.


Both animals originate from South America.  Their wild ancestors have been there for about 3 million years.


There, llamas are used as pack animals.  That means that people load bags and packages onto their backs and use them as a kind of transport.  The llamas are very sure-footed along rough mountain tracks and are big and strong enough to carry heavy loads for many miles in a day.


lf they feel the load is too heavy for them, they will lie down and refuse to move – in protest.


They were first used as pack animals thousands of years ago in Peru.  There are no llamas left in the wild.  They have all been domesticated. 


The lncas used dried llama dung as fuel for fires; it has almost no smell and was used like we use dried peat.


Llamas are part of the camel family – it is easy to see from their haughty look when they hold their head up and look around. 


A baby llama is called a cria and will go on to live to about 20 years old, in some cases up to 30. 


Llamas are intelligent and can be trained to behave; but if they get upset they can spit – you have to watch out when you get near them.


Alpacas have been bred for their fur.  Their fur has a finer quality to it than llamas’ fur and comes in more colours – naturally.


Alpacas also produce more fleece than llamas but they are sometimes a little nervous and like to be close to other alpacas.


Llamas seem to have stronger characters on the other hand, are more independently-minded and are often used as guard animals on farms for other livestock.  They still do like to live in herds though, as they like the company of other animals.


Both animals like eating grass.  Both animals survive well in harsh environments and produce lovely, light, soft, warm and water-repellent fleeces.


They were exported to other countries so that people could keep them on farms to produce wool from them.  The wool can be used for weaving or knitting in the same way sheep’s wool is.


Some producers sell their products directly online.


So if you love knitting, you will be able to source this lovely wool to use yourself.


There is one other thing that farmers can use llamas and alpacas for and that is as guard animals. 


They are bright and inquisitive animals and have a keen guarding instinct. 


While their companions graze, one will always be on the lookout for any intruders just as they would be on guard against mountain lions in the Andes Mountains. 


They will protect their young but also the lambs of the sheep they share a field with. 


They will become very protective of the sheep that they live with and especially their newborn lambs. lf they see a dangerous intruder like a dog, they will attack it and maybe even kill it.


You don’t have to be in South America to go on a llama trek or an alpaca trek.  There are opportunities to go on one in this country – and others too.


You don’t ride on top of the animal like on a pony trekking experience.  You put your bag on your animal’s back and walk along side it guiding it along on a rein.


lf you like connecting with animals, it is a lovely opportunity to get up close and personal.


lf you look in the Picture Gallery this week you will see how endearing these animals really are!



lf you like my blog, please support it by telling all your friends and followers about it.


Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam





Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bob:  lf llamas eat grass, what to they drink?


Bill:  Llamanade?



Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

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Picture Gallery






Alpacas have thick fleeces


Alpacas have cute faces







Last month, the whole family went to visit Smiley Sid for the weekend.  It was a bit of a squash with everyone in his house!

The children had camp beds and sleeping bags in the dining room because there weren’t enough bedrooms for everyone. They thought it was a lot of fun!

Sausage, Auntie Alice’s dog slept with them – she couldn’t leave him behind on his own in the cottage.  (Captain Jack went to her cottage to feed her cat and livestock.)

Actually, I’m not quite sure how much sleeping there was going on down there the dining room.  The children were very tired by the end of the weekend. 



On Sunday, we went for a walk on the North Downs.

Downs are hills.  They have quite an unusual shape.  They are often very round.



There is a lot of chalk grassland on the downs.

This is a rare habitat found on thin soils that are situated on chalk rocks.  This habitat was originally created by the clearance of trees by ancient peoples about 9,000 years ago. 

They wanted to clear the woodland that had spread across the country after the last Ice Age in order to create grazing land for their livestock; like sheep. 

Sheep were enormously important to the economy.

There are ancient settlements and hill forts to be found on the Downs. 

The Romans built villas on these hills too – they obviously liked the beautiful views.

The hills can be very steep but sheep can manage well on them.

The sheep kept the grass really low which gave other plants a chance to grow because the grass was not in competition with them.

This created one of the most diverse habitats in Europe.

It is called chalk grassland.

Britain has about half the world’s chalk grassland and most of that is in the south east. 

It contains lots of species of plants that thrive on chalk grasslands and some of them are quite rare.  It is a good place to find orchids.

Some plants and insects can’t be found anywhere else.

There are lots of butterflies that breed on chalk grassland. 

The Adonis blue butterfly caterpillars for example, only feed from horseshoe vetch.  This plant can only grow when sheep graze down the tall grass that would compete with it.



Without the tall grass the sun can warm the soil which encourages ants to build nests.  The ants love to eat the honey-like substance produced by the pupae and caterpillars of the Adonis blue butterfly and so they guard them against predators and parasites and look after them.

The ants are the guardians of the baby butterflies!



Only 1% of chalk grassland is left on the North Downs.

Now some areas of the Downs have been declared a National Park. 

About 80% of the country’s grasslands have been lost since WWII and lots of people are trying to protect what is left.  

Salisbury Plain is also a very large area of chalk grassland.

But what is the most famous part of the chalk downland do you think?

Would it be the White Cliffs of Dover overlooking the English Channel?


The White Cliffs of Dover are England’s ‘front door’








Crafty Tip


This is a pattern for a square-based little knitted bag.



Using 4mm knitting needles and dk yarn cast on 15 stitches

Knit 20 rows of stocking stitch

Cast off



Using 4mm knitting needles and dk yarn cast on 15 stitches

Knit 20 rows of stocking stitch

Knit 6 rows of garter stitch

Change to a contrasting colour dk yarn

Cast off leaving plenty of yarn each side of the top to neaten the chain effect into the corners with a yarn needle



Using over-sew stitching and with right sides together sew the bottom of the sides to the base and then the sides together

Cut a length of yarn 30cm and thread it around the bottom channel of the garter stitching






lt’s the Weekend!




This pin cushion can be knitted in an evening and will be very useful to have.

Use colours to match your sewing basket.



Using 4mm knitting needles and cream dk yarn cast on 17 stitches

Knit 20 rows of stocking stitch

Cast off




  1. Embroider an initial onto one side of the cushion using a contrasting colour and lazy daisy stitching
  2. Using over-sew stitching and with wrong sides together neatly sew three side seams
  3. Stuff the cushion and sew up the last seam



Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand


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