For the Love of Llamas

Sunday, July 27, 2014
It's no secret that I'm an animal lover.  I grew up with a Beagle named Duke who was so docile my best friend and I dressed him in doll clothes and walked him in our doll carriages. We also had cats and when our kids were young and we lived in a complex that didn't allow pets, we still managed to have guinea pigs, a rabbit, a hamster or two, parakeets and a cat ......not all at the same time!  I thought it was important for kids to grow up with pets and yes, maybe I'm a rebel.  These days I limit my "pet" collection to one cat and one parakeet.....but it's nice to be able to love other peoples' pets and that's just what I did yesterday!

A few months ago when discussing my blog and photo ops with our favorite contractor and good friend, he mentioned a llama farm I might want to check out.  We'd recently enjoyed the Washington Country Fiber Tour where we met some great people and several alpaca and llamas, so I promptly did some research and was tickled when Katrina Capasso of Dakota Ridge Farm invited us to visit and tour the farm for my blog.  So yesterday John, my mom and I headed to Ballston Spa to spend some time with Katrina and her husband, Gary, and their menagerie of kids.

Dakota Ridge Farm didn't start out as an intended llama farm.  Katrina thought she might one day have a horse farm, and indeed there are a couple of horses on the farm.  The llama story began 23 1/2 yrs. ago when Gary gave Katrina a llama as a wedding gift.  As Katrina will tell you, "llamas are like potato chips, you can't have just one."   What began as a love story continues as a love story, because as you tour this place, it is impossible not to feel the love that permeates from barn to barn, llama to llama, person to llama, and beyond.  There are about 55 llamas at Dakota Ridge, some owned by the Capasso's, some boarded here.  It's hard to tell which is which, because every llama is kissed and cuddled and most cuddle and 'lean' and kiss back.  One particular llama who is not known for being particularly affectionate towards strangers took a liking to my mom and carried on quite a courtship with her for several minutes.

My Mom and "Silver Ending".....I think it was the hair color that sealed the deal.
Although we were treated like somebody special, our visit was not unique.  Dakota Ridge welcomes visitors and for a very small fee ($10) visitors are given a hands-on tour of the farm and are able to pet, walk and feed the llamas.

John walking "Hope"
 Dakota Ridge is set on a 42 acres of woods, ponds and pastures that looks like a picture post card.  The only thing prettier than the scenery is the face of each and every llama there.  I met llamas on our fiber tour, but they weren't like these llamas.  These llamas think and act more like dogs or cats.  They are calm and friendly and social.  It's easy to see how easy it can be to "collect" them for pets.   But pets aren't the sole purpose for the Capasso's collection.  Katrina shows her llamas and has done extremely well at that..........

They also breed llamas.  One of her males has a 'waitlist' of females waiting for his services.   And of course, their coats are used for fiber for yarn.  Katrina feels that llamas are mystical and magical creatures and after our visit yesterday, I can understand why.  The farm, though a business, is really an extension of the Capasso family.  I don't think you could feel more love if you walked into a houseful of children.  For the Capasso's, these llamas ARE their children and are loved in a way that is palpable when you are in their company.  I know when Katrina 'talks to the animals' they understand what she's saying.

Sadly, Katrina and Gary lost their first love and farm namesake, Dakota, this spring.  At 23 1/2, Dakota outlived the normal life expectancy of a llama, as did Midnight Run who passed away last week at 22 yrs. of age.  Dakota's life, love and legacy lives on at the farm that began with Gary's gift to Katrina.

I hope you will plan a visit to Dakota Ridge soon and that you'll bring your kids or grandkids with you.  I promise you will fall in love - with the llamas and with the Capasso's.  This is a very unique and special experience that you probably won't get at any other farm event.  It is a personal experience that is meant to teach you about llamas, what it's like to raise and care for llamas and get an up close and personal, hands-on visit with these majestic creatures.

Katrina & Sakima

Dakota Ridge Farm is located on East High Street in Ballston Spa.  The link to their website and their Facebook page will be included at the end of this blog.  Photos are a little like potato I had trouble controlling myself among all these beautiful kids.  Consequently I have quite a few more than I can include in this blog.  Please visit my Facebook page, Life As I See It Photography by Gail Welter, ( to view many more photos.  Till then though, enjoy these!

Even "Spice" was on hand to show a little love!


  1. Hi Gail, Jill here…
    What a story book setting and life's work! These "kids" look so happy and well cared for and anyone can see, raised in a loving environment.
    It looks like each considers himself one of the family and is showing you around.
    OK, Ballston Spa is so close. I wonder if some of my "kids" would love to go check this out when they come!
    Once again, a winner!

  2. My original comments did not post here. I want to say "THANK YOU" for sharing this about our farm. We do truly love what we do!! You are a wonderful photographer and writer, and I look forward to your blogs. Thank you again!! <3

  3. Thank you Katrina! I had some issues with comments early on. Hopefully now I'll get 'all' that people leave. It's so obvious you love what you do and I feel so fortunate to have you share it all with us so generously. I love your farm - you both and all your furry kids ;)


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