For an Unusual Adventure Visit Ellaberry Llama Farm - TribPapers

For an Unusual Adventure Visit Ellaberry Llama Farm

These two young ladies, Brylee and Allie Justice, have once again won awards for their llamas at a show. Photo courtesy of Ellaberry Llama Farm.

Hendersonville – Here in Western North Carolina, there are only a few places one can visit to find unusual animals. You might stop by the Western North Carolina Nature Center to see wild animals of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. All kinds of familiar animals are there, including bobcats, bears, otters, and red wolves. Elks can be seen in Cataloochee Valley where they were reintroduced. Otherwise, you may have to drive to the zoos in Greenville or Columbia, South Carolina, to introduce your children or grandchildren to animals from other continents, like giraffes, lions, leopards or even alligators. However, there is an unusual farm close to home, full of activities to show them a delightful, exotic creature: a llama.

The Justice Family, Allie, Donna, Clay, Dillon, Jason, and Brylee Justice enjoy their Llama Farm. Photo courtesy of Ellaberry Llama Farm.
The Justice Family, Allie, Donna, Clay, Dillon, Jason, and Brylee Justice enjoy their Llama Farm. Photo courtesy of Ellaberry Llama Farm.

In the picturesque apple country of Henderson County near Edneyville, the whole family can easily visit and enjoy a day at the Ellaberry Llama Farm. These delightful creatures, native to South America are there for viewing and easy interactions. On your first viewing of them, you can’t help but burst into a smile–would you look at that! What an amazing shape and size. Farm tours, day hikes, educational field trips, a summer camp, and agility walks in the ring are all available for all ages, but by appointment. Jason Justice and his wife Donna make every effort for visitors to have a personal, enjoyable experience. Now there are visitors to Edneyville from all over the United States year-round. The Justices have branched out from farming their 400 acres of apple orchards to raising, grooming, and showing llamas. The apples are now mainly used in processing like for apple sauce and juice.

Opening the llama farm to the public only began in earnest three years ago, after a bad frost hit their apple orchards. Now the llamas make visits to birthday parties, area schools, nursing homes, churches, weddings and private events. Every so often the animals are brought into the facility with great caution; other times they are paraded around a building so onlookers can see them from inside.

All decked up for a festivity. Photo courtesy of Ellaberry Llama Farm.
All decked up for a festivity. Photo courtesy of Ellaberry Llama Farm.

It all started with Allie and her sister, Brylee, at the ages of nine and six being fascinated by their neighbor’s llamas. Hank and Vicki Balch gave Allie, her first llama JJ, who is still at the farm. Then Tracy Pearson gave her Jellybean as a companion. The herd has steadily increased with 27 llamas, all with their individual name, and 3 alpacas. The girls particularly like showing and winning awards with their llamas; they travel all over the United States. A lot is involved in taking these animals to shows, grooming them meticulously, as well as the feeding and daily care involved. Allie, her parents, and siblings take off for long weekends to regional and national events, where they compete on agility and showmanship. In addition, Allie must balance bookkeeping, maintain breeding registers, and fit in a teaching gig through 4-H as part of her normal routine. Allie’s younger brothers, Clay and Dillon, do participate in the shows, but much prefer their fishing, and hunting, to working with the llamas. All the Justice children are home-schooled.

Llamas belong to the camel family with an average lifespan of 20-25 years. When you look at them you certainly see the similarity in shape—with their long legs, long necks, small heads, and pointed ears. The llama is often used to protect a group of animals in an open area from predators, such as coyotes and foxes. You may be familiar with the use of donkeys for this purpose. Many places sell the llama fiber to be woven and used for clothing—although it is considered coarser than alpaca wool. However, Ellaberry Farms only lightly shear their animals, and do not sell the fiber, because they like their animals to sport a longer, natural look at shows. Llamas can only carry 20 percent of their body weight, so they do not get ridden but carry the packs for hikes and treks. Their feet are padded, like a dog or cat, not hoofed like a horse. They graze on grass and other plants. They are considered warm and gregarious animals, running over to the fence when a visitor approaches.

Visit Ellaberry Llama Farm in Hendersonville, NC for summer camps, farm tours, and llama treks. Register for the next camp session on 7/22 – 7/26 at $425 with a sibling discount. Call 828-606-3577 or email to book. For tours and treks, visit or contact them directly. Enjoy a fun-filled adventure at Ellaberry Llama Farm!