Please also see our other blog at

It is more active than this one. Always check there for updates, too.

Northeast Llama Rescue was started by Wes and Darcy Laraway of Middleburgh, NY.

Several years ago they rescued their first llama out of a tiny horse pen. Since that day, Northeast Llama Rescue has helped dozens of Camelids from several different states.
The primary mission of Northeast Llama Rescue is to educate owners on how to properly care for their animals.

We also offer assistance with a traveling chute to shear, worm, and trim toenails on hard to handle animals. A 'TRUE REPUTABLE BREEDER" should help out the llama down the road that is not being cared for by owners that understand the needs of llamas.

If you know of a llama owner who is no longer able to care for their animals, there is help available. Members of Northeast Llama Rescue will adopt any unwanted animals. Rescue animals will be relocated to farms of members for training and necessary vet work.

If a llama is able to be rehabilitated, he will be available after a careful screening process. All rescues are placed in homes with a contract that says they shall be provided for and can not be sold. In the event a rescue animal becomes unwanted, the llama MUST be returned to Northeast Llama Rescue.

If you share our philosophy and love for the animals, you are more than welcome to join us! There are lots of llamas that need a person to love.

We also rescue farm animals, and are licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

This site is copyrighted by Wes Laraway.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Prayers for Austin

There are few things that I like more than animals, I like kids a lot too....before they grow up and get obnoxious...:) One of my best friends John and Cindy have a Grandson named Austin. He is 6 years old. I have never met him but he has to be cool because my Border Collie has the same name... A couple of weeks ago he went to the doctor with a sore stomach. To make a long story short, his appendix broke yesterday. I didnt think that this crap even happened anymore. He got taken to Albany, they are trying to get the infection down before surgery. John told me tonight that they wanted to wait for surgery but they are "going in" tomorrow to try to patch the little guy up... I wanted to make this a separate blog because there is nothing more important than a 6 yr. old kid . I have a "gut feeling" that this little guy needs some of our prayers.... I am not a really religious guy but if Im doing it because I think that the energy will help him....take a few minutes of your time to do the same...Austin, be strong, you have a lot to look forward to...dont give up the good fight, My thoughts and prayers are with you. The Laraway Family

On the road again

I usually travel several thousand miles a year doing rescue work, I dont mind doing it but I hate doing it this time of year. It is nice when I leave the farm. Quite often by the time I get back it is in the middle of a blizzard. I can always make it back to Middleburgh but getting back up on the mountain can often be interesting.

One night I was called in by a Humane Society on a horrible rescue. I left imediately after school, the kids always ask what Im doing when they see my truck and trailer in the teachers parking lot (so I can leave right after school) to get on the road. ... I got there and the Humane Society staff was waiting for me. I assessed the situation, told them how we were going to get the surviving llamas and donkeys on my trailer. It was a bad scene. Dead animals, cold as hell, starting to snow. I walked into the barn over several dead animals, broke the several feet of feces down and got the llamas herded down through the barn and onto the trailer.

The donkeys made me work for my reputation. They were also built up on several feet of feces, I eventually got them out of their shed and they all stood by the rear of the trailer in a blizzard....feet planted. I love our donkeys but when they get in their head that they dont want to do something (even if it is saving their lives) they wont do it.

We couldnt feel our toes and fingers but we had to physically lift all of those donkeys on the trailer. To make matters worse, the older woman that had let her situation deteriorate to that point had recognized the "LLAMAMAN" license plate, the lettering on the side of my trailer and wouldnt leave me alone. My celebrity status (for what I do) had followed me, she had read about me online and wanted to explain how things had gotten that bad.

I never have any ill will against people that starve their animals to death. Most animal "hoarders" love their animals literally to death. They are too proud to tell anyone that they cant afford to feed them, are ashamed and to in love with them to part with them. I eventually got away from her, the cops, the Humane Society volunteers and the animals were loaded. Lyn (a farm volunteer) and I were homeward bound.

I have talked about this rescue before but never the end of the story...It was snowing so hard that we couldnt see, a complete whiteout....even with every light I had turned on we couldnt see 10 feet off the truck. We were white knuckles and heads out of windows 10 mph for a long time...We eventually drove out of it to the point we were all over the road but could see. We made it back to Middleburgh....

Now I had a tough choice, park at my parents house and try to care for the animals on the trailer overnight , until the town plow had gotten the mountain road open or "Hail Mary" and hope for the best....It would be nice to get to the barn so we could get the animals into the barn and settled in where I could work on them in the light....I was going to leave you in suspense but I actually decided to....tell you about Recent Developments.. (You know, my last Blog)

Last night I kept working on the case of the goats and sheep that are being left to fend for themselves while their owners are away living in NYC. I called/emailed a couple of other neighbors and Troopers that I know. Tonight I delievered the show cart to the guy that is taking it to the woman that bought it. I am sure Cyndie will love it, I hope she realizes that the money is being spent to keep what we do here going.

After getting home, I ran to get 15 more bales of hay to get me through tomorrow. I have to go get the 2 gelding llamas tomorrow and will be on the road most of the day. The guys will do pm chores for me but I wanted to make sure I had enough hay and then I will get another 200 bales sun morning before the storm hits. The two brothers that I buy hay from are great, I buy every bale they make and they let me pick it up as I need it. I look forward to seeing what the 2 llamas look like tomorrow....I always love the first moment that my eyes hits a new rescues' eyes...It is an amazing moment....Im sure I will have a good blog tomorrow night. The worst part of "being on the road" doing rescues is boredom....and the cost of fuel at $3.82 a gallon. Colin and Jacob rode with me tonight to deliever the cart. It is nice to have someone to talk to although I also like the "alone time" with a trailer full of screwed up , starving animals... Jules is coming out tomorrow to ride shotgun....I need to hit the hay. It is going to be a long day tomorrow, Wes

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Developments

I bet most of you thought that I was never going to post another blog. I think that everyone on the BOD needed a bit of a break after Thanksgiving Holidays. I spent most of the weekend getting sheetrock up. The phone continues to ring. I need to deliver a draft horse cart this weekend to get it to the customer who bought it. The sleigh also leaves this weekend. I can't believe that the holidays are coming so quick, we haven't gotten our tree, put up our lights or even thought about getting ready.

New developments on the animal front. I have 2 gelding llamas coming in this weekend. I have to drive out near Binghamton to get them. They are not a rescue per say, a really nice woman lost her husband.... can no longer really care for them and asked if I could help. I got a call last night on a bunch of sheep and goats that are about 2 miles from my house. I guess that the city people that own them have pretty much left. The animals are loose, in a major highway often in their quest for food. I told the people that called me that they would have to call the State Police and file a complaint. Once the troopers get called, they will need to investigate. If the animals are being neglected, the city slickers will get a ticket.

Usually the people neglecting their animals have a chance to improve but often they will voluntarily surrender their animals if the troopers tell them they wont give a ticket. I made a couple of phone calls. Most of the people that I talked to didn't want to be involved. The trooper that I talked to said that he would check the complaint log. He said that no one has called in a complaint on them within the last month. I will have to follow up, I think that I might actually take a ride past the place tomorrow during lunch to see for myself what is going on. I don't call in complaints, if I get called in to do the is a conflict of interest that could be used against me in court. I've done more rescues than I can count, I don't like to do rescues locally where I live. I usually have their kids in school and I don't want people around where I live "out to get me." I will still do what I need to do, if it is what needs to be done, regardless of my personal risks.

I got 2 phone calls today, one on 3 Canadian Geese that needed some help. I will do what I can do. The other phone call was on 3 potbelly pigs and another small herd of goats that I might have to pick up. I like picking up goats, they are not easy to find homes for but most will end up on a dinner table if I don't. Potbelly pigs are almost impossible to find homes for. I am sure I will get several more emails, calls and requests by the end of the week. As the weather starts to turn bad, a lot of older people attempt to do the right thing and place their animals. It is rough for them to get their chores done in the bad weather. I have never thought less of someone that tries to do what is right by their animals before the situation gets bad.

So there are lots of new developments. It is time to tighten the belt from Thanksgiving and get back to work. It is going to be difficult to get everything done before the snow flies, not that bad weather stops what we do here. I will try to get back on schedule giving you updates on what we are doing and the animals here at the farm. I had a couple of visitors here tonight at the farm.

One woman needed to pick up some wormer for an older llama that she gave a home for. Barbie the llama loves her sheep and has been getting a little stiff lately. I hope that a good worming will straighten her out. Barbie had some Menegial worm problems when I rescued her. I think her new adoptive family is awesome. Another young woman that visited reminded me of how much I take for granted. Her folks were picking up their dog after it was groomed. They saw me leave to run Aaron home from doing chores. They actually waited for me to get back so I could turn on the lights in the barn. She was just visiting her folks from Arizona. She was amazed at what I do and took a bunch of photos as I gave her the tour. As she left, she said that I must be the luckiest guy in the world to have such a beautiful farm with so many great animals. It was a reality slap, sometimes I really do need to slow down and take a moment to enjoy what I do......Wes

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanks for Giving

What exactly happens on Tday?

Can't exactly say but I know that Mark and Terry gave Casper a good home. Casper really couldnt have gotten a better home and I am thrilled to death . We waited for Mark And Terry to come up to the farm. Hannah was all afraid that we were going to miss Tday but I wasn't. Watching a happy ending is always better than food for me. I really can't wait until I get some help up here and I can spend the night somewhere else. I love being chained to this place and I love being here. I do occasionally need A DAY OFF.

Dog kennel customers came all AM.( We) Hannah and I left "on time" for dinner. Colin will be living up here shortly......I really need the help, I am really looking forward to him being up here.. Not that Jason and Aaron are not my saviors. They really are going above and beyond most of the time. I really need a resident that is here 24/7...

I can't get my mind off off of Jade. Dont get me wrong, I think that Steve and Karen are awesome...I just can't believe that they bought one of my Clydes. Steve has been up a couple of times..we have driven Jade...It isnt a matter of competence. Jade can teach anyone how to drive... I really haven't been able to "get into the Clydes" lately., I lay awake at night thinking about them once they leave.

Wed. night was just another night, but when I loaded Jade on the trailer for Steve I lost it. Steve and Karen had taken Hannah down to Hubies for dinner, I was worried about her...I was the one that couldn't handle it. I started crying before we even hit the trailer, Jade is a great horse........I felt like Judas putting her on the trailer. I know she will do great. One of these days, I will let everyone know what is actually going on here, what I deal with on a daily basis.

Lets take a second to talk about Lions, Tigers and Bears...With less than 5000 Tigers in the wild, we need to do what we need to keep them alive. I can't stop thinking about what is happening locally. Actually it is the only reason why I didn't blog over Tday. Anyone can rescue a farm animal....who has the abilities to take in a tiger.

I set up a paypal account with donate buttons on my blog. I know a couple of great animal rescue groups that have raised a lot of $$$ for the CGF cats. These cats (locally) should deserve the same. I am willing to do it , should I look the other way? I am all ready to go.....I really want to see what we can do....I REALLY want people to visit the farm to see what we do here. I've always believed that people that rescue animals should be "open to the public." I can't do this on my own. If you are as worried about this as I am, you need to stay posted.

For one night, I am going to bed. Wes

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


As I am sitting here, ...I am looking at the animal menu bar. I am seeing my potbelly pigs in my head. and on the computer screen...I am not seeing any homes ..ever..I know that there is the tusk and bristle rescue....The same folks that paid like 20 grand to rescue the warthog and ???? from the CGF? I am not trying to start fight.....I am just wondering...Who exactly wants a pig now a days? The answer is no one...........My piggies can rest in peace, they have a home for life.


As Hannah loses a tooth, I think of Donkeys. I am really still trying to "blog." Ive always liked donkeys. I like the fact that they are independent. They don't take any crap from anyone. My donkeys here on the farm kick at the Clydesdales but they dont get it.

My first experience with donkeys started about 15 years ago. Mini donkeys were just another pet fad and I got a couple for Darcy. She wasnt impressed, I sold them but I still check in on them. When we moved to the "big farm"....we were llama directed.We were trying to just do llama rescues, but that wouldnt last for long.

I got called in by a "Humane Society." I still work with them today and they are great.....I know that when a humane society callls me they are normally overwhelmed. I know that they are looking for help and they cant deal with the situation. I got the call, I wont even mention her name (because I am so protective over what I do), she gave me the run down, I told her I would be there in an hour. I was there in an hour. I parked my truck and trailer....I walked down the road. I told the trooper in charge who I was, I was in...

As I entered the barn, I was warned by a bunch of people that I had better be prepared for what was behind the barn doors. I told them that I could handle anything, told my volunteers to stay by the trailer and "went in:". I walked over a pile of dead llamas....I didnt even see the live ones...I was disgusted. Then all of a sudden, a Humane Society worker pointed out the llamas that were running through the trusses of the building. Literallly they were 10 ft. in the air... I was looking at lllamas. When you opened the stall door they were above my head.)

I quickly started barking orders. I dug with my hands, I ordered everyone out of the barn. I gave my staff really strict orders. As I climbed up into the horse stalls, I herded the llamas to the hole which they suddenly fell through and quickly went haywire. I got out my wands, I ordered everyone out of the barn........within a minute I had all llamas on my trailer as it started to snow.

I was pretty proud of myself, I am the llama man and I got 5 llamas to jump over a pile of dead animals on to my trailer and my "staff" didnt even walk in the barn. That is when the humane society I was working with said we had another problem. There was a barn full of donkeys and no one wanted to "deal" with it. Now, In all my rescuue experience, donkeys are the last to die. They are so freakin' tough, they literally dont eat for weeks and somehow they are still fat.

I walked over to the barn where the donkeys were. Couldnt get the door open because the crap was in the rafters. I told the "volunters that this was a bad scene. We had no shovels and I was spent. I had brought several panels with me. I kicked down the debri and after about an hour I got 3 donkeys on the trailer....Were were homeward bound. I think that is the only rescue Lynn has ever been on with me with, she was my right hand, now she isnt around. I really miss her so much. We came home that night in a blizzard, Lynn was riding shotgun....I was afraid, I had 8 animals on the trailer, they were the bottom of the barrell. Why could no one else could deal with this nightmare?. I got stuck coming up the mountain, It was another nightmare... but I am still not to my donkey story.

My donkey story starts several months after this. A 'friend" contacted me. She heard that I had been in on the rescue and she wanted to "talk to me". I would rather go to jail then talk about where animals are....she called again. "Marlene" said that she had taken 2 donkeys out of the same place, she said that they had lived in her kitchen all was 6 months later and I said it would be my pleasure to take them. I picked up "Bonnie" and "Clyde" and they were 2 of the animals that changed my life.

Bonnie and Clyde were the size of a golden retriever,. The had free run of the farm. The kids frequently had them in the house. My wife wasnt amused. We actually had a party. Bonnie walked up the stairs on to our deck, started eating out of the potato chip bowl.. I was watching with amuzement, and then my guest slapped her in the face...I told "my guest" that if he hit my donkey again that I would throw him off my deck by his throat. He said "well she is eating out of the chips....." I said "If you want more there are some on the kitchen counter"...Bonnie and Clyde lived for me for years. Then I found a perfect home. You have to understand, I loved Bonie and Clyde....I wouldnt part with them for a million. Debbie is great, I had to do it, it was a perfect placement.

Then came the complications....Debie called me to let me know that there had been a birth (Boom Boom)...She said that they loved Bonnie and Clyde but they didnt really plan on Boom Boom.....I brought her home....NO ONE will ever mess with this srtain of donkey. I figured if Budweiser could have a donkey as a mascot I could...and BB quickly took over the farm.
I got a call from Debbie last month. It seems before Clyde was gelded he did the dirty with Bonnie. (Again) I was at a wildlife rehabilitators my wife and I walked out, she said see you home in an hour....I said Im gonnna get a piece of ass......I came home an hour after her with Bam Bam (an accident) riding on the back seat of my truck. (see previous post). Bam Bam and Boom Boom have a place here...their parents are my favorite.

I really like donkeys...they love you if they know you, an they are loyal to the end..Just another rescue story....Im going to bed, Wes


You might notice that I cant always "Blog" on a daily basis, as much as I would like to. I normally have a ringing phone and 10 people standing in the driveway at any given time. Thank God I am out or school for 5 days....Thank God for "The boyz" who rose to what was their occassion and helped me plug through chores tonight. (The "Appledumpling Gang")

I've been thinking a lot lately, which is normally dangerous. I have people say to me on a regular basis, you are incredible......I dont think so. I got 3 emails today from people living right here in Middleburgh that didnt know that I even rescue animals....That is not good. I got an email today from a person that knew of an entire herd of animals that need to be rescued, I tried to deal with that. It is really very difficult. I dealt with this, that and the other thing. I really was flattered I have a lot of people reading these blogs (which is amazing to me) but no one really gets it...I am known nationwide for being the Northeast Rescue guy but I dont do dogs , cats or horses....I cant....They would bankrupt me overnight. But the reason why I havnt blogged is a little pup named Casper. (kind of ironic)

Casper is blind and deaf. I mentioned him the other night and I havn't been able to stop thinking about him. I really appreciate Mark and Terry agreeing to take him on . It is a project and they were my pick, he found a great home and I cant thank them enough. I know he will live a long life and be functional...My daughter Hannah will be missing him more than anyone.

As I sit here, trying to write a blog, my daughter and her friend are rehearsing their Christmas Band music on their sax and flute. Darcy is off to Choir rehearsal for her Holiday Concert. I guess that I cant really care how screwed up life is here. I dont even want to go to Thanksgiving Dinner. I cant leave the farm, I just feel that things will get screwed up if Im not here.
Not to mention, a couple of days to "catch up" would that really be a bad thing?

I love seeing my wife's classroom animals home for the vacation. My cousin walked into our house tonight and was probably wondering what the heck all the cages and tanks were doing all over our kitchen. Austin (my Border Collie) was looking at the Chinchilla with evil thoughts in his mind...just another day in border collie paradise.

I really cant write anything in this environment. This place really is a zoo. I cant even go to the bathroom without someone banging on the door to brush their teeth....I guess that an optimistist would least they are brushing their teeth. I guess that my wife would say, at least you had a chance to see what they are like when you are not around...I think I will write some animal profiles..Wes

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Favorite Poem

Today was a relatively quiet day. Hannah and I drove around the mountain.....looking for hunters....Kind of funny, the deer are safe and I look for hunters. Had a puppy come in today that needs a "special" home....The pup is deaf and mostly blind. Australian Shepherd...I can't talk about it right now but it needs a home...

Read this at my funeral:

I am an Animal Rescuer

My job is to assist God's creatures
I was born with a drive to fulfill their needs
I take in the helpless, unwanted, homeless creatures without planning or selection
I have bought dog food with my last dime
I have patted a mangy head with a bare hand
I have hugged someone vicious and afraid
I have fallen in love a thousand times
And I have cried into the fur of a lifeless body too many times to count
I have animal friends and friends that have animal friends
I don't often use the word "pet"
I notice those lost at the roadside
and my heart aches
I will hand raise a field mouse
and make friends with a vulture
I know of no creature unworthy of my time
I want to live forever if there aren't animals in heaven
But I believe there are
Why would God make something so perfect and leave it behind
Some may think we are masters of the animals
But the animals have mastered themselves
Something people still haven't learned
War and abuse make me hurt for the world
But a rescue that makes the news gives me hope for mankind
We are a quiet but determined army
And we are making a difference every day
There is nothing more necessary than warming an orphan
Nothing more rewarding than saving a life
No higher recognition than watching them thrive
There is no greater joy than seeing a baby play
who only days ago, was too weak to eat
By the love of those who I've been privileged to rescue
I have been rescued
I know what true unconditional love really is
for I've seen it shining in the eyes of so many
Grateful for so little
I am an Animal Rescuer
My work is never done
My home is never quiet
My wallet is always empty
But my heart is always full

Author unknown

I'm too tired, Till tomorrow, Wes

Happy Bunnies!

Hi my name is Hannah,I'm in 6th grade and go to Middleburgh Central School! I'm a major helper on the farm! I love helping my dad run the farm. I love reading his blogs everyday! He has some very interesting animal stories. I'd like to tell you a little about my rabbits!

My rabbits are pets that I really love! My rabbits work like this: My dad and I rescue them, after I take care of them for a couple of years/months, when they are cured or all better I find them a good home. After a little while I rescue some more, then it goes on and on. I always take care of them by myself! If you are looking for a rabbit you can call (look on my dads blog to find it)me or email my dad!

So back to rescuing rabbits, some of the rabbits I rescue or buy I keep! I have many different rabbits up for adoption right now! Rabbits are very easy to take care of, I'll tell you how I take care of mine: I give them Blue Seal bunny 16% pellets,hay,water, and sometimes vegetables or fruit,and I have to clip there toenails once every two months.Rabbits need to be brushed every couple of weeks! See you next time I write a blog! Bye,Bye Hannah

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Another day at the farm, another blog.

Today was a realtively quiet day. Besides for the fact that the hills were alive...with sounds of gunfire. I hope that the whitetail fawns that I rehabilitated this year stay on my mountain where they are safe. I got a call first thing in the morning. Barbers Roadstand gives us all of the veggies that they dont sell. The animals love them and it really helps keep some of our feed bills down. I hauled pumpkins all day. The sheep, goats, potbelly pigs, llamas, alpacas, and a wide assortment of birds love them.

When Aaron finished chores, I finished the 4th truckload of pumpkins. A local boyscout came up to further some plans for his Eagle Scout project. Some great folks came up to get 4 geese that I had picked up a while back. Geese are an amazing animal. I rescue a lot of them. They are noisy, crap all over and have a reputation for being mean. The only geese that Ive ever seen that are aggressive are usually protecting their nests or "their farm" from strangers or predators. The geese were out behind the barn. I herded them right around to the front of the barn and right into a horse stall. I showed them how to carry geese, explained that they are not mean but dont like being chased. She had grown up with geese so she knows what makes them tick and they are super people that have taken several rescue animals and given them a great home in the past.

Since my digital camera is on the fritz, he took some photos of their 3 kids and a wire dog crate with 4 geese crapping all over in the back of the mini van (on plastic). Complaining loudly and hissing.....what a visual. They were thrilled to finally have geese and I was thrilled to find them a home. Just another happy ending. With the stipulation if they were ever unwanted that they come back here. They also adopted a rabbit, which is great.

I like slow saturdays. I like it when the phone doesnt ring and I can plug around the farm and get projects done. Austin rode shotgun with me all day. He was afraid to get out of the truck in between pumpkin trips because he didnt want to miss a ride. Im beat....cant really come up with anything whitty, sad or happy....Im just tired.....Wes

Bam Bam and Boom Boom

Our miniature donkeys, Bam Bam and Boom Boom, are rescued siblings who are permanent residents here at Red Maple Farm. You can virtually adopt one of these donkeys if you wish, by going to the website and making a donation via the paypal link on the Virtual Adoptions page. The money will go to supporting their care, and you will receive personal emails from them (dictated, of course!) and updated photos.

Love Those Clydesdales

We have a number of horses, mostly rescues and a few residents and borders. Jake, our Clydesdale, is king of the pasture, and leads several Shires, a Percheron, and a several of riding horses as well.


In addition to rescuing farm animals and wildlife, we get called on exotic animals, as well. Some of these are actually wild species bred in captivity, and they never really make good "pets". This can lead to disaster -- especially for animals whose humans find that, as they mature, they are unable to keep up with the wild nature!


All of our goats and pigs are rescues. Our huge pasture gives them lots of room, with varied terrains, where they can run, jump, and play.


If you visit, you'll find that various kinds of fowl wander about the grounds, including ducks, chickens, guinea fowl and peacocks.

Special Sheep

Our Scottish Blackface Sheep often accompany us to petting zoo gigs. We hope you'll get to meet them some day soon.


Have you seen the little piggies crawling in the dirt?

The Potbellied Pig phenomenon has left many grown, not so cute any more, adult pigs in dire need of rescue.

It's Feeding Time!

Everyone at the farm knows when it's suppertime!

Five Baby Goats in a Station Wagon

Friday, November 16, 2007


Horses have always been a weakness for me.

I love their smell. Their strength, the fact that you have to be smarter than them, gain their trust and take little steps at a time in their training or you are very likely to get hurt. Possibly even killed. My facination with Equines started with a miserable little shetland pony at my Grandparents named Prince (I still have his bridle and brushes). Prince was a miserable little pony. He wasnt really fond of us kids but he kind of liked me. I remember my grandfather, he had emphasema. He couldn't walk so he rode a lawn mower around his farm. He used to chase Prince all over his pasture on it, catch him and let me ride him.

My aunt would normally walk us all over Huntersland. I liked Prince alot. I was probably the only one that missed him when he died. Through my adolecence, I remember all of my friends that had a pony or a horse. I rode a lot of horses in school and as an exchange student to Brazil. I did some really stupid things but never got hurt. The edrenillin was like a rush to me when jumping walls, galloping down the old dirt rodes, and getting to figure out what makes horses tick.

When my wife and I bought our first farm. One of the first animals I bought was a great appy gelding named Oscar. I loved that horse. He would do anything for me. I decided that it would be fun to ride with my wife. I bought a paint gelding off of another teacher at school named Apachie. He was a very strong willed gelding but I rode him like a show pony. The first (and one of the only) times I have ridden horses with my wife was not pleasant. She had ridden trail horses at a resort that she had worked at in Lake George during summers off from college. She thought that she knew what she was doing but didn't.

As we were riding, she became more and more nervous that the horse had a brain and was starting to get really agitated that she was pulling and being really rough on the bit in his mouth. Even when he was doing what she wanted. He started to act up, I tried to tell her what she was doing wrong and she quickly informed me that she knew what she was doing and didnt need my advice. So I rode off and left her, knowing that it wasnt going to be pretty. The only thing that Apachie hated worse than having his mouth yanked around was being alone.

As Oscar and I trotted off to the other side of the field Apachie started to rear and behave poorly for Darcy. She eventually got scared enough to beg for help and I rode back accross the field. She followed me home and that was the last time we ever rode together. After our trail ride, the more I rode...the more my back started to bother me. A doctor eventually diagnosed me with a degenerative spinal disease and forbid me to ever ride again. I bawled my eyes out when the people that bought those horses drove out of the driveway with the horses on their trailers.

I submersed myself in our llamas, pygmy goats and our growing collection of rescued animals. But there was a void. Before we had kids, Darcy and I often went for a ride on the weekends. (Back before the price of gas being $3.50 a gallon). We had one rule,that we COULD NOT leave Schoharie County and we would purposely try to get lost. On one of these rides, we passed an old farm. On the front lawn stood the largest and coolest horse I had ever seen since I had seen the Budweiser Hitch at the State Fair as a kid. Yes, right there....10 miles from our little farm was the nicest Clydesdale that I had ever seen. I stopped the car and against my wifes wishes, I got out of the car and went over to the one strand electric fence. The big horse trotted over and I started petting him and smelling him. With the risk of being shot by some hillybilly I stepped over the fence and threw my arms around this beast. I hung off his side, crawled under him, couldnt get enough of him. We spent about 15 minutes together and I left with regrets. All the way home I was thinking. The doctor said that I was no longer able to ride. He never said anything about driving. I started to think (which is usually dangerous).

That night I was reading our local "My Shopper," a local classified ads newspaper. I turned to the livestock section and right there in print...CLYDESDALE- Gelding, reg., 7 years old, cart and harness. He was a lot of money but I called the number. The woman on the other end explained that it was Bill Gridleys horse. He was a local teamster, he loved his horses and Jake was the last horse he bought before he died. She asked if I wanted to see him, I said I had and I bought him. Well actually we agreed that I could pay him off $100 a month until he was mine. I was in my glory. That horse gave me the Clydesdale fever. He taught me how to drive, he still is in my barn at the age of 24. It will be a sad day when he leaves me but when he does he will be buried here at our farm.

When we bought our new farm 10 years ago. We designed the entire facility for llamas. I had sold Jake for a lot of money to build the llama barn. I kept track of his various owners and what he was doing. It took a couple of years but I bought him back. I had always felt like I had sold that horse out. He was my best friend and I sold him. I did what I had to do for the benefit of the farm. Buying Jake back was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life. As our pasture, fences and facilities did our Clydesdale collection. I started doing Laraway's Celtic Critters shows at Scottish festivals with our Clydesdales, Scottish Highland cattle, Scottish Blackface Sheep and our Border Collie to make (a lot) of money to support our farm expenses and expand our rescue services. When some men go through a midlife crisis they get a sportscar. I went away for part of a summer to learn how to drive an 8 horse hitch from one of the best teamsters in the country Roger and Linda Thoms. I started to collect equipment, tack and of course more Clydesdales.

We started a breeding program and had a foal (one of the coolest nights of my life). I met Bonnie Jean, one of the best (female) teamsters in the country, she can drive a big hitch better than most men. I bought her hitch wagon,Cooter and adopted two of her old hitch horses that are retired. We spent a lot of money, had a lot of fun and became a name in the Clydesdale World. I loved every second of it and still do.

My vet said to me once..."Wes you need to make a decision. You need to decide if you want to run a rescue facility or raise registered livestock." That question has haunted me from the time it came off his lips. He was right. You really cant rescue 200-400 animals a year and still afford to have thousands of dollars of show quality livestock. There isnt enough time (or money) to do both. To keep the rescue afloat, We have downsized a lot. We went from 22 horses (including boarders) to 7 (including boarders). I have sold most of my horse drawn equipment. Sold my Scottish Highland Cattle to my best friend. We don't have much left of our registered breeding livestock. My 2 girls have their 2 show horses (both are rescues and I love to watch them beat the rich girls on their expensive horses at shows), I still have jake and the 2 old guys that I promised Bonnie I would keep. Everyone else has found a great home and I have kept up with the bills. All except Cooter.

Cooter is one of my favorite Clydes ever. He is 7 the same age as Jake when I got him. He is a real character and has a great personality. I made the decision this week to sell Cooter for the sake of the farm. Several "big " Clyde farms have contacted me. I have a guy coming this weekend to drive with me. He has a mare that he pleasure drives now and then for fun. She lost her hitch mate and is lonely....I have good vibes. The fact of the matter, going through a midlife crisis doesnt always mean you have to buy a sportscar....It sometimes means you might have to part with what you love personally for what is best for your family, farm and future. Going through a midlife crisis is NOT being selfish or self-centered. It is no longer about what makes you happy, it is about the bigger picture.

Good night, Wes

Border Collies

Just might as well take a moment to tell you about my dogs.

We dont rescue dogs because there are other facilities for that. I do place a bunch of dogs every year with people that are looking for a dog. I helped a Greyhound Rescue Group that has always been good to me place some dogs that they had shipped up after Hurricane Katrina. I always know of a good dog that is looking for a good home. My experiences with dogs actually started with a step grandfather that raised Basset Hounds. He had a bunch. I couldnt get enough of their slobber, barking and smell. My step grandfather was getting older. He was looking for someone to handle his awesome dogs at shows. I was 8, he started training me and I started showing and we won a lot of ribbons. My parents finally caved in and got a boxer. That dog was my life. In our sterile no pet environment, Rosie was my partner in crime.

When my Dad was going to spank us (we usually deserved it) My brother and I would sick the dog on my Dad. Rosie died while I was in Brazil as an exchange student. I brought my folks a puppy out of the Brazillian National Champion Boxer while I was there and ZONA came home with me. Im not sure who they were more excited to see upon our return. Zona was one of the best dogs ever. Boxers are probably one of the best dogs out there....great with kids, short haired, obedient.. They are a great dog.

Upon my return home it was off to college. My fraternity house had a dog but it wasnt the same. When I graduated college, I worked in the Bar business managing a nightclub for a year. I had always thought that English Bulldogs were cool. I found a litter of pups in Peru, NY.....paid $1100- (15 years ago) and brought home my little piglet Maxine. Maxine was my pal. She went out to the bars in Oneonta with me. She slept under the bar that I worked in . With her large spike collar, we were the hit everywhere we went and she was the celebrity of Oneonta. Darcy and I eventually grew up, I took a long term sub job at the school I graduated from. Maxine, Darcy and I moved to a run down apartment in Middleburgh.

Good thing we had love because we didnt have food. We used to eat pasta (no sauce) about 5 nights a week or pop over to my parents house at dinner time to eat. Substitute teaching isnt profitable. Our joint income that year was around 14,000. Looking back at it, we should have applied for "help" but we were too proud for that. I had heard about another bulldog (Maggie) that was for sale. They had spent a lot of money on her, planned on breeding her to make a lot of money but that didnt work out. They had locked Maggie in a pantry. As soon as I saw her, I drove an hour and a half back to Middleburgh to tell Darcy. She was starving, Her ribs were sticking out, she couldnt walk and she was in tough shape. Darcy asked me why I was looking at dogs, asked me why I didnt save her and I drove back an hour and a half the same night to get her. I carried her to the car and saved her life.

Darcy and I were married shortly after that. Darcy bought me a pup out of an American Champion. We named the pup McKenzie and we were a married couple with 3 bulldogs. We tried breeding Maxine. After an artificial insemination, csection and bottle feeding puppies....not fun. I focused my energy on showing McKenzie. We were unbeatable. It is fun showing a dog when you win. That wore off though. People that used to think that Darcy and I with our "cute" little puppy at shows were charming.When we started beating them they were not as nice. I asked Darcy at a dog show one sunday afternoon if she was having fun. She looked at me and said "are you"? That was the last dog show that we ever went to. Maggie went to live with Darcy's brother Scott and McKenzie went to live with her other brother Darren. We were out of the dog show business.

Being so broke, is not fun. I look back at those years now, it wasnt so bad. We had fun and were too young (and dumb) to realize how bad off we were. I was sick of pasta. I got the idea one day that we could actually buy groceries if I got a second job. I told Darcy that I was going to start grooming dogs out of our apartment. I spent our last $300- on the crucial tools and grooming table. I went to train with a professional groomer for a couple of months and I put the word out that I was in business. I started grooming friends and family's dogs for free. I was cheap and I was good. I built up quite a little business in our living room and in our bathtub. I look back on it now and think of how gross it was to be grooming dogs in our 3 room apartment. We didnt care then it was money.

Shortly thereafter, we bought our first home. A great OLD center hall colonial on 5 acres. My Dad was furious at us. He wouldnt even look at it. I always have done what I wanted so I wasnt slowed down. I continued to build my business up and we started to rescue a lot of animals. If it had a heartbeat, we would take it. We eventually "outgrew" our little farm and moved to our present day farm 10 years ago (another story).

Shortly after moving to our new farm with our old pig with hair (Maxine), she had a heart attack and dropped dead at my feet on easter morning following me around hiding Easter eggs for the kids. A friend that is a vet tech at an animal hospital called me a few weeks later. She said that there was a Boxer there and knew that I grew up with them and was "dogless".. She had been horribly abused, her eyeball popped out, the vet had been working on her for 2 weeks and she was so digusting that no one could look at her and the vet had her on the table to euthanize. I told her to get her off the table and bring her over. She wasnt kidding how bad she was. When she opened the door to her truck and I saw Sophie I almost vomited. I got her into the grooming shop and got to work on her. It took me 3 days to massage her eye ball back in. She was a mess. She loved our toddlers and she was "all boxer". She might have only had vision in one eye but you didnt touch my kids. (She got put down by our vet on our front porch in my arms about 2 years ago).

A short time later, a great Golden retriever (lucky) got dropped off in our kennel for boarding over the Thanksgiving holidays. I left my mother in laws early to come home to groom her and get her ready for her folks. They called and told me that they hated her and asked if I could find her a home. I told them that I was a boarding kennel, not a shelter. They never came to get her. I guess that she wasnt so lucky. I called all of my customers with a Golden and a few came to look at her but no takers. Like Boxers, Goldens have to be one of the best dogs ever. At 9pm at night, we sat in the office. I said, "well no one wants you, until I figure out what I am going to do with you, you will have to live with us". We walked over to the house and she climbed up stairs and crawled into bed with my daughter....She is sleeping by my fireplace while I write this.
I had another Golden Retriever (Buster) that was boarded with us for days on end. He moved into the house with us because I felt guilty keeping him in the kennel. He went to camp with Tommy when he came up on weekends. (I put him down, see previous post from a few weeks back).

Then there is Cleopatra (Cleo). I have always wanted a Great Dane. My wife forbid it. Over a couple of years, I kept track of a nearby breeder. After awhile they had a female merle (undesirable color) pup and told me that they would give me a hell of a deal on her. I met them at a park and ride during my lunch break in Cobleskill. They were late and I just got back to school with the pup under my arm. She slept in a box behind my desk. In between classes, I walked up to my wifes classroom and said, "Look what followed me home honey, can I keep it"? She said it looked like a Great dane puppy and she wasnt impressed. Seriously, who can resist a puppy. She couldnt. We have always had adopted dogs in need of a home. I came in from the barn late one night (from lambing), Darcy and Cleo had taken over our bed. She (the dog) takes up the entire bed but I dont complain. I know that no one will walk into my bedroom at night. I love Lucky and Cleo. Cleo is the dumbest dog Ive ever owned but she is lovable. Your probably thinking at this point, isnt this blog titled Border Collies? Yes it is. But I had to give you all my dog background so you could appreciate my relationship with my Border Collies.

I have always thought that BC's are cool. I know that they are the smartest breed of dog. Very high maintenance. I thought that it would be cool to get one when I retired from teaching to herd our sheep but it wasnt in my destinty. Americans herd their sheep by shaking a grain bucket. It works most of the time but you cant count on it. My wife and I took 35 kids from school on a tour of Scotland. It was our 10th wedding anniversary and I had always wanted to check out Scotland. I bought a small flock of registered Scottish Blackface Sheep shortly after we got back to the states. I loved seeing them all over Scotland but didnt realize that there were only about 4000 of them in the USA. My sheep quickly showed me how weak my fences were. They were basically running lose all over the mountain. Darcy loved the Mothers day when I spent half of the day chasing sheep all over the cemetery below our farm, the diner parking lot and Route 145. I still kept working on our fencing and didnt want to neglect a Border Collie by not having enough time for it.

Then the phone rang a few weeks later. My wife always cringes when the phone rings. It probably means that I am leaving and will be off somewhere in the middle of no where saving animals. The woman said that she had a professionally trained Border Collie named Elsie. Her husband had just died and she sold her sheep. She said that she had read about me online and had seen me give one of my Celtic Critters shows. She said that she had to go to Tenn. to update her nursing degree and was wondering if she could board Elsie with me for the summer. I told her that surely there must be a kennel closer to her than me (6 hours away) but she was insistent and I agreed. I told her that when I agreed to "long term" boarding it usually meant that I was getting stuck with the dog. She assured me that that wasnt the case.

The next weekend she showed up with Elsie and I put her in the kennel and tried not to like her. Slowly over the next 3 months that dog grew on me. I started taking her out to chase the sheep on a retractable lead. She was quite aware of what she was doing. I was clueless but we were having fun and I was getting her out of the kennel for exercise. My sheep hated her. They looked at her as a demon, she infringed upon their free run of the farm and they couldnt wait until she left. I was amused.

Like she promised. Elsies owner called me 3 months later. She had accepted a job and was thrilled that Elsie and I were fine. She then shocked me by offerring me a lot of money to keep her. I couldnt say no, although I doubted that she would pay her board or send me her husbands herding books and videos as I requested. Much to my surprise, the check and the herding videos came in priority mail.. There really are good people out there that do what is right by their animals. It was official. I owned a Border Collie and I had visions of what I saw in the Highlands of Scotland. My dog and I would herd the sheep all over my highlands. She would be "my" dog and we would run the farm together. That is exactly what we did. But she had her work cut out teaching me how to herd. We were actually at the Capital District Scottish Festival. Elsie was sleeping under my truck. I had my display of Scottish Blackface Sheep and my Scottish Clydesdales on display.

I was visiting at the fence with one of the event organizers. A woman came up and said "Excuse me, can you tell me when the herding demos are?" The event organizer explained that the older gentleman that normally did the herding was ill and could no longer do was too late to get it out of the program. I said that I just had sheep and clydes, I hadnt been contracted to herd....the woman stomped off swearing and saying something to the nature that was the only reason why she came. I let out a slow whistle and Elsie came out from under my pickup and sat by my feet. The event organizer looked at me, said "Wes, Border Collie, Sheep =SHOW". I asked how much, she radioed to the office and said you have 10 minutes. I told the kids that work for me to break the sheep pen in half, put the other half of the pen in the middle of the riding arena we were doing our other shows in and open up the back of my trailer. I told them that I didnt want to be disturbed for 5 mins. I got into my truck. It looked like a family of gypsies were living in it.

I found the herding book under the seat. I wrote the commands with little arrows on my hand and got out to get my cordless microphone. Elsie made me look like a million dollars. She herded the sheep from their pen to the pen in the middle of the arena. A crowd of thousands formed. She herded the sheep from that pen on to my stock trailer. Scottish Blackface Sheep dont follow orders well, they stomped their feet and protested...She then herded them back into their original pen... After 7 shows over 2 days, I had a nervous breakdown but she never let me down....She was a hit and the new star of the Celtic Critters Show. People saw me everywhere and introduced me to their friends as the guy that owns Elsie....Elsie was my shadow and she spent every minute that I would allow by my side. I even snuck her into school and she slept under my desk during career days and evenings when I worked late. That dog taught me what it was to own a dog. She trained me and as Jon Katz says, "Made me a better person".

Word quickly spread that I had a dog that could round up animals. Usually at the worst times (like when I was dressed up, late for a wedding) we would find ourselves putting in someones beef cows or run away sheep. Elsie and I started to form a bond unlike any Ive ever had with a dog. We were one and she knew what I was thinking and I didnt have to speak to her. ...she knew what I wanted her to do and she knew what I was doing. Elsie was my "barn dog" she initally lived in a kennel by the sheep because my wife said that she wouldnt have another house dog with 3 kids. That didnt matter because I lived outside. This spring I noticed Elsie was getting thin. I wormed her, started some canned food (and table scraps) but she continued to lose weight. When friends started asking me what was wrong with Elsie I took her to the vet. I told the vet that I wasnt leaving until she told me what was wrong with Elsie. We sat in the waiting room, I in one chair, Elsie in the chair next to me (she liked sitting in the chair next to me no matter where we were).

The vet eventually came out. She told me that she had agressive cancer. I could spend lots of money but the dog would die shortly and that I should put her down. I walked out without paying (I paid later) , got in my truck and started crying. I dont remember driving home but I remember Elsie doing the Border Collie thing out the open window. They put their heads out of the window, the wind blows through their hair and everytime you pass a car they bite in the air at it. That damm dog could have cared less that she was going to die. Elsie and I spent a lot of time together that last month. She made it in to our "mudroom" porch. As she got weaker she made it to the side of my bed, although I often slept on the floor with her. She started losing her bowels although she would still follow me around the farm and put the sheep in every night. She wasnt in pain that I could detect, just happy to be hanging out with me. Her last weekend the sheep shearer (Ray Baitsholts) came. This is what Elsie lived for.

She was too weak to work but sat about 10 foot from Ray while he was shearing... just to give the sheep "the look" if they got any ideas. The next morning she couldnt walk. I picked her up and we went down to my buddy Scotts sheep farm. Ray was shearing down there and I had offered to help. Elsie and I sat on a hay wagon and watched. Actually she watched. I was in shock. We didnt say goodbye. I went to my vets church. When he came out from services, I motioned him over to the truck. I had eaten dinner next to him at Rotary for years.

He said" what is wrong Wes"? I blurted out "Will you kill my dog"? I followed him home, waited for him to open the office and carried Elsie in and sat her on my lap. He didnt want me to do that (dogs release their bowells when they die)...I didnt care. Elsie and I looked into one anothers eyes and I watched the life leave her body and felt the wetness on my legs....and on my cheeks.. I feel that wetness on my cheeks now just remembering that look. That look was complete and total love. I composed myself and wrapped her up in my favorite blanket and jacket. Tossed a bunch of money on the table (to his protests) and walked out to my truck. Hannah held him while we came home. A couple of friends came up to help me bury him.

A piece of me died that day. I was a man with out a shadow, I was crushed. As we were burying her, we found an old horseshoe about a foot underground. You cant tell me that wasnt a sign. After several months, I really am not over it yet. Buster's death a couple of weeks ago was tough but nbot the same. Abscense does make the heart grow fonder.

A friend had went to Empire Farm Days and met a lady walking around with some Border Collies. He had her number written down on a piece of paper. It took me weeks to call her. We talked for over an hour, even though she said that had no dogs for sale. As I started to set the tone for good byes, she said...wait...I have Austin...the other dogs hate him....he is yours. I asked how much and she said nothing. I was trying to figure out how I would get to Buffalo to get him, she said dont worry about it...I'll deliever him. As we ate lunch at the diner, Austin bit at cars going by in the parking lot through the window....He looked at us in the diner and looked quite comfortable in Elsies truck. He should be...he is wearing her collar. If you believe in destiny, what are the odds that I would have another Border Collie lying at my feet right now....from Buffalo like Elsie. I often wonder if the two of them are related, not that it really matters because he is "my" dog and he has a home for as long as he lives.

Enough for one night, Wes

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


What makes people volunteer their time, money and resources to a charity, cause or project?

I dont know. I know that I've always done it. I am an Eagle Scout, I am always fundraising or selling something for some Club or charity but I have never tried to raise some money for my own cause. No wonder I'm broke, just today I gave 2 kids $20- each that needed it (can't explain). I bought a $20- box of oranges from the senior class. Kicked $5- in the hat for a teacher with a sick wife and another $5- to a help needy people at Thanksgiving fund.

Wow, no wonder why I had to go through the ashtray in my truck to get enough change together to get a Mountain Dew for lunch. No big deal I will survive. I listed one of my favorite horses Cooter tonight on't worry about me, I'll be alright. I'll do what I need to do. If we are going to do rescue work full time, we will all need to downsize a bit. First class, not half assed....has always been my motto.

My day actually started off great. My son, Jacob met me downstairs as I came out to make coffee. The kids know my morning ritual and Jacob decided he wanted to tag along on my morning chores. Jacob doesn't normally show much interest in the farm. He likes the animals but would rather be playing on the computer....that is fine. I feel that kids should be able to do their own thing. He "volunteered" to help me. Now I must admit, it might have been because he wanted something, did something bad or maybe...just maybe he wanted to tag along with his Pop at 6 am in the morning, in the freezing cold....feeding animals that he doesn't even really care about. No...being a volunteer starts at a young age and you have to want to do it.

I was thinking a lot about the emails, phone calls and animals waiting for me to pick them up. I was thinking about how I would explain to Cooter that he had to go to a great home . I didn't forget that Jacob was with me for no reason other than it was quality time with his Dad and that was cool. I let him drive the Kubota RTV on the easy parts. The farm is huge at 165 acres but it is almost entirely at a 45 degree angle. We finished up in the barn. We got the dogs out of bed in the dog shop and out in the kennel for breakfast. We still made it to school on time. Hannah, my oldest daughter rides to school with me. She is in the "big school" now, 6th grade. Darcy drops Jacob and Emma off at the Elem. school. They are growing up fast, I hope I don't miss a thing that they are doing because I am so busy doing what I do.

It cost me money to go to work today. I wont bore you again with all the cash that I "lost" today. Why do I go to work? My wife actually suggested that I stay at the farm full time and retire from teaching. As much as I would like to do rescue work full time, I can't do that to my students. They love my class (even though I am strict and have a weird sense of humor). I know that I have taught a good lesson when the bell rings and they all look at the clock and go awwwwhhh....finish the story...Hard to believe huh? Most of my free time was spent emailing Northeast Llama Rescue Volunteers. I finally admitted it this past weekend.

After 15 years of doing rescue, I can't do it alone anymore. I have invited several people to be on "our BOD" and help me with things like technology (I'm afraid of computers). I look forward to my emails from my good friend John Palmer from Unadilla. John has Unadilla Game Farm, a small zoo with some really cool animals. John is actually coming out this weekend to take the Wallabies home with him for the winter. He has a heated basement that they will be a lot happier in. We are going to visit another facility that has some big cats......I want to see how they set up their cats. There is a huge demand for exotic rescue and very few facilities to "sanctuary" difficult rescues.

I want to thank Debbie Frey for her work in the past helping me with the 2 websites. I really appreciate your help in the past. Jules and Gayle are really doing a great job right now getting me in the year 2007 technologically. They will both be great assets to Northeast Llama Rescue and have not taken a dime for the hundreds of hours that they have put into the animal rescue cause. I really am not used to people being nice to me or helping me out.....but I am a strong believer in destiny. The members of our BOD that you will gradually get to know through my blogs are my friends, I really couldn't mentally, physically or financially continue what I am doing without their help to save hundreds of animals a year. I really don't give compliments or thanks often so there you all won't get anymore for awhile.

After school, I waited for my little ones to get off the bus at the HS. Hannah normally stays up in Darcy's classroom to take care of the dozens of animals that Darcy has there in her Life Science class (mostly rescues). I help the 2 little ones with their HW and catch up on emails. Aaron came in as usual, to see when we were leaving for the farm. He never wants to sit down and do his HW. He always wants to get to the farm before me....I think it is just so he can drive the Kubota. He rides his bike almost 3 miles up a side of my mountain to get there before I go home at 4 pm. I try not to identify people by name in my blogs, esp. kids (without parental approval, which I have) but you need to get to know Aaron. HE alone had most of the chores done by the time I got home. I could tell that he was running (like I do) and really wanted to prove to me he could do it. In the couple of months he has volunteered up here (I don't pay him) he has come a long way. Now granted he forgot to fill hayracks before he let the horses in but as long as they have grain they will run in and stay in their stalls. The rest of the chores are a breeze, Hannah finished them up while I ran Aaron home (it gets dark early now, I wont let him ride his bike home) and took Jacob to karate. Aaron is a great help and I appreciate his hard work up here and try not to yell at him when he forgets something.

Jacob has karate 4 nights a week. I am designated driver since Darcy stays home to start dinner. Wednesdays are sparring nights. Jacob loves sparring. It is kind of like "ultimate fighting" with kids. They get dressed up in enough padding that they would be safe from most police attack dogs and they get to use the moves they know on each other. A lot of parents might not approve but he is there because he likes it. I had to come up with a way of getting him off the couch and computer. Maybe someday the moves he is learning will save his life.

Upon return to the farm. Dinner was ready. Hannah was quite proud of herself for finishing chores (the way that I like things done) . I had forgot to tell her that the pigs ( that had a party in my garbage cans yesterday ) let their guard down and got locked in the empty horse stall they were snoozing off their good time this am. I would have loved to see her expression when she opened that door. The pigs have been driving me nuts, they chase my Border Collie, they are out of control. No more running around the farm, ripping up my lawn, eating my wifes lovely Halloween pumpkins, mums and cornstalks off the porch. No...they are in big trouble more freedom, until they are big enough that they cant squeeze under my electric fences anyway. They are in piggy jail, better than the freezer I suppose.

I appreciate all of my volunteers. I hope that a lot more people that have enjoyed following my antics running this rescue will get to volunteer to our cause as well. People that cant contribute their sweat are always welcome to contribute their money....My vet bill is over $1500- right now.

If Jules has the photos ready from this past weekend it is time to start introducing to our animals. We have a lot of animals that wont leave here but we have a lot more that are looking for perfect homes. Till then, another day done.....Tune in tomorrow, Wes


I actually had just written a great blog about juggling.

My wife came home from Choir practice. I did something and lost it...I dont get any breaks. The last week I've done alot of juggling. It really isn't like the juggling that I learned how to do as a kid at the local County Fair. I juggle life. I have always believed that you really only get one chance to do life right. I have always believed that actions speak louder than words and that everyone should do random acts of kindness. My wife on the other hand is a living Saint. She keeps the fort held down, me in line, the kids cleaned, fed and she keeps a clean ship. She teaches 7th grade full time and volunteers in our community. Yes, she is a Saint. It seems okay when she goes away (esp. with the kids) but I always end up missing them after about a day.

Since I last left you. I was juggling life without Darcy. When I went to Italy last month on a conference, I really didn't appreciate what she did while I was gone. When she was at her teacher's convention in Texas we didn't really appreciate what she had did before she left....The house was ready for a photo shoot for Better Homes and Gardens, the laundry was done, meals were made in the freezer waiting for us to cook. Kids clothes were laid out for school....Geez, what exactly do I do around here? Friday was a typical day of juggling. The kids got out of school halfday (lucky them, I had to stay for exciting meetings) .

I had gotten Colin to agree to take the little monsters with him for the afternoon. (Inspiration for birth control). He had some projects at the farm and a bunch of errands to run. I had let him in on the biggest parental secret of all, get them fed, in the car, drive and blast the heat.....nap time. I actually ran to Tractor Supply to get some gates over my lunch break. Got back to the farm after school and everyone was still happy, well rested and alive so I guess it was a good day. The greatest part was everything was done, I didn't need to do chores so I got a break....

Hey being a parent is tough work. I had one of my students (that I had seen helping at an Eagle Scout Project a few weeks ago) come up friday night. He is looking for an Eagle Scout Project of his own. Colin showed him around the farm, I am sure that we can come up with an idea of something that we can do up here that We can use for the rescues (Great Project)...

Saturday morning came early. Cornell University is opening a new Wildlife Rehabilitation facility. Friends were going but I had something just as important. The first real Board Meeting of Northeast Llama Rescue at Second Chance Rescue ranch. Jules (Project Manager) had already told me that her husband (Jerome) and her daughter were coming up early to take pictures and get dirty. That is never a problem here. If you come to visit and stay longer than 2 hours, you are no longer a guest. I cant sit still longer than 2 hours and I will put you to work. The volunteers here are really my friends, my sanity, and my salvation. I had hand picked about a dozen folks that keep coming back here, told them Id buy them pizza if they would come over here.

They came over, I got the guys moving the Camelid hayracks down to the other end of the (new 100 foot addition) of the barn, accross from the foxes and the wallabies. While everyone pretty much did what needed to be done, Jules tagged me around. Meeting the animals as I did my chores and met with the never ending flow of prearranged adoption appointments, the large number of people that just stop in to visit and lord knows what else will just happen (damage control).

One of the first appointments of the day was with Bob and his 2 kids. Bob and I had talked on the phone, he wanted to see some goats that I have looking for adoption. I work with a couple of different dairy goat farms. They have to bred their does to get the milk. They dont want to sell their kids for meat, I can (usually) agree with that...(Just kidding, I wouldnt sell my kids or the goat kids for meat).

Bob showed up, got the 3 minute tour (as I call it) and he successfully answered all of the interogation questions that I had, that I hadn't already asked 3 times. He passed the test, Bob picked out 2, then 3 then 4 really nice wethered (neutered) nubians. I told him that he had to take 5 since they were all the same age, came from the same farm and were pals. I quickly grabbed everyone from all over the farm, we herded the goats into a catch pen and promptly loaded them in the back of his station wagon with his kids.

Everyone was kind of amuzed by it but it is something that I've done (when needed) for years. Yes I have a 22 foot long goose neck beautiful animal mover....but at 369 a gal for diesel...lets remember that I'm cheap. I was actually at a Wildlife Conference last month, as my wife and I were leaving the conference I told her that I would see her later....I had to go pick up a donkey. She didnt even raise an eyebrow....(I brought it home on the back seat of my truck) It actually was kind of funny, I had to stop for fuel. A trucker was looking in my truck and said "What kind of dog is that"? I said "That isn't a dog it is a donkey"....and went on pumping my fuel.

He speaks up after thinking for a couple of minutes and says "Does it always ride in your truck with you?" I smirked and said " Why yes, haven't you ever seen a donkey in a truck....everyone is doing it". It is definately something that we will do again when I need to pick the kids from someplace where they could be easily embarassed. My kids have so grown up around the pack of dogs that follow me around, the trailer pulling in late at night, messed up schedules due to emergency animal rescues....we actually almost like watching people's expressions when they visit our farm as they do looking at what we do. I can't embarass my kids easily, esp. with an animal.

After Bob left with the goats. Bill (and a sweet ole woman friend) came to look at some Diamond Doves (Australian) that I had picked up. Bill was on a portable oxygen tank so he had to sit at the bottom of the stairs and watch us catch doves upstairs in the large cage by the kid's room. I really wish that I had a heated place for animals (besides my house) but my wife probably would miss the mess. The kids have rode their pony through the house before (she didn't think that was funny either) but if you really want to see my wife lose it, put a barnyard animal and more birds in the house.

Wait until she vacuums and watch all of the parrots I've rescued happily toss their seeds all over her dining room...priceless. Bill adopted 6 doves (There were 12) so that should cut down a little on the dove mess on the stairs and kid's rooms. I like the noise they make. It isn't obnoxious like the parrots...I love hearing birds in the house, esp. in the winter when there is no wild bird noises coming in from outside. Before I knew it, many jobs were done, the pizzas arrived and the day was winding down. The group of friends that I had assembled all agreed to be on the BOD.

Jobs seemed to just fall into our laps, great ideas were discussed and I am very excited. For the first time in a long time, I think that we can really continue to expand the work that we do here for hundreds of animals. I really believe that this will be more than my passion. This rescue facility will outlive me for many generations to come.

Sunday was just another day of juggling. You see my kids and the farm always come first. But the hour countdown had started, Mommy's mid afternoon return was upon us. The days of eating Halloween candy for lunch, staying up till we fell to sleep on the floor, and leaving our clothes, dirty dishes and toys all over the place were over. As the theme (from the witch) in the Wizzard of Oz started to ring in my head.....My wife returned home....much to the happiness of all of us. We thought she would forgive us for wrecking the house ....she is slowly getting over it. Yesterday was a "school day" on a Sunday. Averages were due today....I got them submitted (on the computer) about 1 am last night. A lot of people think that teachers just come home at 3 pm and their job is over....they just dont get it.

I have 5 and a half years of college (almost a Doctorate, I won't get it....I don't want the title), I have been teaching for 17 years...I do it because I love it....One person can really make a difference. I should have worked on the averages all day but I had chores to do and people that are visiting. I started teaching Steve how to drive Clydesdales tonight. I should have been cleaning up the house and doing my averages but driving Clydesdales is a lot more fun. Steve and Karen bought one of the Clydes that I had here to sell for another friend. I told them they couldn't take her until they could drive her....Steve is a natural. Just as he was leaving. Travis (from Lake Placid)came to look at the 6 seat sleigh that I am selling to try to get ahead again. Don't really want to sell it but what I am doing here is more important than what I own. Long day, short night as usual.

Today, yes....another day after 5 hours sleep. We are all caught up againon the farm and at school.. Hannah went out with me at 6 am to get the chores done. A couple of the HS volunteers and I went to get hay yesterday and I need someone to stand by it as the horses run out of the front of the barn. If no one stands there they all stop, get into a traffic jam and proceed to knock it all down . Two deer watched us as we drove around filling hay racks. They weren't afraid at all, even with the dogs tagging along. They had to be a couple of "my" deer..

School was great today. My students are great. Got home to see that a couple of pigs that I had rescued had gotten out, knocked all of the garbage cans over and strung garbage all over the place. I mean really strung garbage all over the place. At first I was thinking about where I could hide their bodies (my freezer) but as I was picking up trash I realized how smart they are. I've never had my garbage cans knocked over, strewn all over the yard and so appreciated by any of my animals....I didn't catch them in the act but from the evidence, it looks like they had a really good time doing it.

My 2 HS volunteers tonight learned a valuable lesson. DO NOT let the herd of horses into the barn until their stalls have grain in them. They had gotten stalls cleaned, most of their hay racks filled, and their water buckets filled. They just forgot to put grain in their corner feeders. They came galloping into the barn from the pasture as I stood in the driveway talking to my wife about the Teacher Conference she had just returned home from (a good one). Then I saw 2 guys frantically trying to keep them in as the all came galloping out...I don't know what they were more afraid of, the galloping Clydesdales or me but I am learning to relax. I told them that it would be helpful to grain them before letting them in. I hope they remember that in the future.

Juggling, isnt such a bad thing. I've always said that people that retire too young die. They have too much time to think. They have too much time to sit down. They have too much money, too much food, too many petty complaints. No. People don't die from old age....they retire from forgetting how to juggle. People say that they are so busy when they retire that they don't know how they ever had time for work. For some reason, the thought of that makes me want to take a nap....or as some people call it...go to bed.

Till tomorrow, Wes

Friday, November 9, 2007


Revenge. Not really a word in my vocabulary. I do occasionally hold a grudge but hey...who doesn't. I try to forgive and forget. I try not to get even. I try to forgive people that do horrible things to animals....but my day started out with a quest for revenge.....a quest to get even, an attempt to get even. With Darcy gone to her teaching conference, my morning routine has changed quite a bit this week. It always used to revolve around the kennel, the barn and my personal hygiene before running (usually late) to get to school before my students. This morning as I trudged to the kitchen to make coffee, I got that funny feeling I was being watched (again). Only this time it wouldn't be one of my fawns....

I tried to shrug it off as nothing. I started looking out of the windows ...struggling to see as much as the sun was struggling to reach me with its rays. Then I saw it, I was shocked, in disbelief and outraged all in the same split second. I will never forget the is burnt in to the center of my brain. Yeah, you figured it out THE COYOTE.

Just one, the same one that used to frolic around my pasture with my sheep in between eating them. The same one that used to sit and watch me drive my Clydesdales at 2 am under the outdoor riding arena lights. My former friend turned killer....the coyote that most likely killed my fawns. He was about to get taught a lesson. I normally don't have a problem with predators. I actually like them and would rehabilitate them if needed. This lone wolf had crossed the line. He was sitting 75 foot in front of the barn. Right smack in the middle of my barnyard. In his glory, watching the activities of sleeping animals waking up all over the 200 foot long aisle of my barn. Besides for the geese, that were unusually quite and the lack of deer in the pasture, it was relatively normal..... Kind of like the way I look when we go to dinner at the Grand Buffet. This meant war, he had crossed the line when he killed the deer. Now to violate the sanctuary of the inner barnyard, I made the 1 second decision ....

As the kids lay in bed, sipping their "warm juice" chocolate milk, I ran to the bedroom, unlocked the gun safe and got the biggest rifle I own. Now I don't want to give you the impression that I am John Wayne. I own 3 guns, a 22, a 20 gauge shotgun and a 30/30 rifle. We bought the gun safe when one of our students was killed while screwing around with a gun. With 3 kids of our own under 11, we needed one. Back to the story, I grabbed the rifle and one shell. A beautiful, brass shell that would show that coyote how it feels to be hunted. I really should have grabbed a couple of shells because I am really not a very good shot but around kill with one bullet.

I snuck like a lion through the savanna grass onto my front porch. This was an easy shot. He was a sitting duck...I mean coyote. I hadn't ever shot this rifle before but I wasn't worried...I got the coyote in the middle of the was time for revenge.....good night buddy and good riddance. I was shaking like it was my own life and family I was protecting. I held my breath and gently squeezed the trigger....

BOOM !!!!!! I listened to the echo through the mountains. I heard the kids screaming and jumping out of their beds to see what I was destroying. The rifle kicked back and cut my eyebrow, I knew instantly that it would swell up and be black and blue. I knew I had got him and couldn't look away from the train wreck I was about to see. By this point a huge cloud of dust exploded around the coyote, as he jumped to his feet and started trotting up the pasture towards the woods. I am really surprised that I didn't scare him to death.

I ran back to my bedroom and grabbed another shell. I wasn't going to be the laughing stock of every man in Middleburgh. I made it back to the porch, Just as the coyote stopped,the darndest thing. He looked towards the farm, almost like he was sorry that I missed. It could have been he felt sorry for me and was contemplating tossing himself on the end of the gun barrel so I could get my revenge. With the percision of a SWAT Team sharp shooter, I slid another cartridge into the gun.

Got him in my scope and pulled the trigger for the second lethal time. It was a long shot but I was capable of making it.....I could . I look back now, if I had a grenade launcher I probably couldn't have killed him but I tried. I hope that he thinks twice about messing with me or my animals again. Next time he might not be so lucky. I have to get home and do chores. Wes

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Thinking. I've been doing a lot of that the last day or two. I asked Jules, NELR Project Manager if we could get a disclaimer. Something that would say that my moods, opinions, and attitudes are solely my responsibility. I am not going to participate in sharing my private thoughts and feelings if other people are not going to respect them for just that.....

I have agreed to do these blog entries to let people know what I actually do. To insult, give people gossip or ammo to use against me is counter productive and I will not waste my time if that happens with those negative people. I am hoping that if people that love animals (as much as I do) get to learn about our facility, you may want to help my cause.

Very few facilities have what I have built up over the last 20 years...When you actually "travel" through my adventures with me I hope that you validate what Ive dedicated my life to. I have never been good at asking for help or money, I don't want to start now. Jules has been trying to get me to step up to the next plateau for 2 years. I have finally realized that I am at my limits as one man. Without help, I can no longer continue to help the animals that I am being asked to, most don't have a chance without me.

I get too many emails and phone calls to afford to respond to every rescue on my teachers salary. That bothers me, I can't sleep at night. My "wait list" is growing daily with everything from a coatamundi to antelope. You might be thinking...there are other facilities. You are wrong, not for the animals that I deal with in the Northeast.

My credentials are second to few. I have more degrees, licenses, certifications, inspections and references than anyone probably in the Northeast whose only purpose is to rescue animals. I have almost bankrupted my family several times, but I have a hard time asking for help or money. Especially from people that I dont know. I wasn't brought up like that. But the animals can't speak for themselves so that's why we are here today.

My first goal is to always have a paid vet bill (which it never is). My second goal is to raise about $100, 000 in donations to put in a heated facilities for birds, reptiles, primates and exotics that cant handle winter weather or may be sick. I have been online. I know that there are other rescue groups and rescue facilities in the USA but I have found none that do what I do. There is a big void in the cold Northeast for Exotic rescue.

I can't explain it all in this short Blog but I have seen things that most people couldn't imagine. I've climbed over piles of dead animals to save the ones that were hiding. I have spent hours removing barbed wire, halters and auction ear tags out of animals. I have acted when others have said "oh that is terrible" and changed the news channel....

I am here and I make a difference. I really am not a hero. People ask me all the time how I got into this....I always say I didn't plan on it, it just kind of happened. As I became one of the leading authorities (nationwide) on exotic animal rescue people often ask me how many animals I have....I say I dont know, it depends on the day and they won't stand still so I can count them. Besides we are too busy taking care of them to take the time to do a head count. I have never made a dime but the feeling that I get when I take the frightened, near death it, nurse it back to health, gain its trust, get it trained and eventually find it the perfect home or release it back into the wild is PRICELESS.

One way or another, I will continue doing what I do but that is not good enough. I want to establish a not for profit rescue facility here at my 165 acre farm that will outlive me and be continued when Im gone and no one else will answer the call. I am only 39 years old and I know that this will take awhile to do.

Tonight as I pulled in the driveway from work at my high school. I forgot everything and dropped everything to watch Sierra get a ride back home with her owner Steve. She is the pregnant mare that I talked about in my last blog. She is going home to be pregnant and we can worry about driving her next summer after her foal is well established. Colin and a couple of city guys (that have a weekend place further up the hill ) stopped down for dinner. What a great bunch of friends I have. ...

My wife is so awesome, she went to a teacher conference in Texas for a week and she left me homemade frozen dinners that all I have to do is pop it in the oven and serve to whoever might be here and be hungry. After dinner, we were talking about my Blog and what I do. I said that I didn't want to write anything that people didn't like. They said to be honest, be me and write about the good and the bad in only the style that I can. That is what I am going to do.

After over 20 years of rescue work, I am going to share my triumphs and my tragedies, the good things and the bad things. Dont judge me, just experience it as I do. Some nights we will laugh, some nights we will cry. To know me, you really need to get to know my animals (this could take awhile). Starting this weekend. I am going to start introducing you to EVERY animal on this farm. I will tell you their story so you can experience what I experience and know. I will post photos of every new animal upon their arrival and if/when the day comes and they graduate to a new will see that to.....

As a NYS licensed Nusiance Wildlife Control Officer, I will take you on calls with me. I will show you a whole lot of life and we will trudge through the battles and death. I will give you my pledge tonight. I will never do wrong by the animals. I hope that you enjoy getting to know me, my animals, my farm and what thousands of animals experience on a daily basis. We are open to the public free of charge (donations accepted), if you are in my neighborhood stop by.

Everyone that reads my blogs past, present and future that wants to help the cause....tell all of the people in your address book about me and what I do....don't forget to give them the blog address and tell them to bookmark it so they can check in often. I also want to encourage everyone to feel free to send me comments. I need the verbal support somedays! I will not post any of your comments without your permission. Sorry I was kind of serious tonight, I want to make sure that we are on the same page. Wes

Northeast Llama Rescue by Wes Laraway

The Northeast Llama Rescue was started by Wes and Darcy Laraway several years ago after they rescued their first llama out of a tiny horse pen. Since that day, the Northeast Llama Rescue has helped dozens of animals in 5 states. The primary mission of Northeast Llama Rescue is to educate owners on how to care for their animals properly. We also offer assistance with a traveling chute to shear, worm and trim toenails on hard to handle animals. If owners get "tired" of the daily maintenance of their herds, members of the Northeast Llama Rescue will adopt or buy, if possible, any unwanted animals. Rescue animals go to the farms or members of the organization.

The Northeast Llama Rescue does not wish to compete with other rescue organizations, although any llama or alpaca is welcome. We need to cooperate to help ALL camelids, not just registered or "nice-looking" ones. Everyone has the right to breed and sell llamas, but a true reputable breeder will "help out" the llama down the road that is not being cared for, regardless of its age, sex or conformation.

Our last rescue came from Central New York. A farm had purchased 9 animals from a Midwest auction. Four of the animals had died from natural causes....starvation? The owner had health problems and no longer wanted the animals. After several other concerned people failed to negotiate their sale, I eventually called and within five minutes we had agreed on a price and the deal was done. The next night, Wes Laraway, Kim Scheurerman and P.J. Wagner went to pick up the animals. The owner informed us that the llamas were wild and could not be handled. Within five minutes all were calmly caught, on lead ropes and in the trailer, with us using a wand and some TEAM Training techniques. The owner thought I was the "llama whisperer" because I got those llamas to do things in five minutes that she couldn't do in a year. She unfortunately knew nothing about handling llamas.

Three hours later, we were back into quarantine at Red Maple Farm starting "damage control". The animals were immediately wormed, fed fresh hay and grain, and watered. All were body scored under three by sight and by feeling through their wool. This hands-on inspection revealed barbed wire that needed to be cut out of the fiber. We decided NOT to shear because it was too late in the year and they were too thin.

Another concern was an ingrown halter. One of the best ways to remove ingrown halters is to undo the buckle(s) and cut the nose band with sharp toenail clippers on each side of the nose. Then gradually, over time, the remaining pieces will fall out. With application of an antibiotic cream, any wounds from the ingrown halter will heal quickly. In this particular case, the halter came out of the nose and was added to the "wall of shame" in our barn (along with the barbed wire and ear tags still on them from the auction they were purchased from). The blood stream stopped within fifteen minutes and now, after a month, we can tell that scarring will be minimal. Please tell everyone you know that owns camelids, NEVER leave a halter on a llama! Even in a week, with wet conditions, a halter can embed itself in a llama's nose.

My biggest concern was the 10 month old female that was exposed to her father. If bred, we decided to abort the unborn cria for the safety and well-being of the young female. None of these five animals were over the age of three years. All of them, over the following months, would need intense care and proper nutrition. The animals were all updated on health requirements and gelded. All of these animals would need training before they could go up for adoption.

New problems continuously arose. Two weeks after they arrived, one of the females surprised us with a weak, constipated fourteen pound male cria. Within hours I knew it wasn't "normal" so mom and baby were moved to a quarantine pen in the barn. The decision was made to supplement the cria with goat colostrum and give him an enema. Although the cria was walking, he continued to strain to relieve himself. Around the clock surveillance did not reveal any nursing or defecation. At two days old, I found very small maggots between the cria's toes and by his umbilical cord. After consulting my vet again, the cria got a bath and dried out in the heated office before going back to mom in the barn. My vet explained that crias born on rainy days must be completely dry or flies will lay eggs in moist areas of umbilical fluid. I've never heard of this problem before but I know now to check my newborn crias for maggots every day. After five days of constant care, we lost "Trooper"....I guess it was not meant to be, but we tried.

The rest of the animals are doing well today. Concerned individuals found them, bought them and will protect them. Today is actually a special day, because the vet did fecals on them and all five of them are parasite free and can join our llama herd. After training and further rehabilitation, by Spring 2001 this group of animals will be available for adoption to carefully approved homes. All animals sold or placed by Northeast Llama Rescue will be adopted with a legal contract. The contract states that if the llama ever becomes unwanted or is not cared for properly, the animal will return to Red Maple Farm for a full refund. I used to think I could save every unwanted llama in the world...I know that I can't . It is too great an undertaking for one farm to rescue all the unwanted camelids out there. For this reason, several other farms have joined in the effort with Red Maple Farm to pool resources and save neglected and unwanted camelids.

Any farm that shares our philosophy that every llama deserves a life with proper care is welcome to join us. We are people who genuinely love all llamas and want to make a difference one llama at a time. Eventually we will print an educational brochure to hand out at events with member farms listed. Don't just tell people that you love your llamas; show people by making a difference and actually save one. Always quarantine new animals for at least one month while getting wormings, vaccines and nutritional needs in order. Always do a fecal exam and consult your vet about when new animals should go out with the herd. Geld all males and most of all BE PATIENT. Llamas are very forgiving animals and will learn to love and trust again with gentle care and training.