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She lloves llamas


Sherri Tallmon turns her hobby into a viable business

by: NEWS PHOTO: SCOTT JORGENSEN - Tallmon feeds one of her many llamas. For most people, llamas are just another animal. But not for Sherri Tallmon.

The Estacada resident has long considered the creatures a passion, and they’re quickly becoming her livelihood as well.

Tallmon spent 17 years developing her dream of raising llamas. Those dreams have come to fruition in the form of Hidden Oaks Llama Ranch, a 50-acre property that has about 130 of the animals on it at any given time.

Getting there wasn’t necessarily easy, though.

The year 2005 was filled with loss for Tallmon. In the space of a few months, her father, godmother and a very close friend all died. She also lost 15 llamas that year to a parasitic infection.

“I didn’t know how I was going to make it,” she said.

But Tallmon pressed on.

by: NEWS PHOTO: SCOTT JORGENSEN - Sherri Tallmon has earned countless awards over the past few years for the llamas that shes entered in competitions throughout the country. She started entering her llamas in shows all over the United States, winning countless awards in the process. These days, a rainbow of prize ribbons hangs on her walls, with many of them still in boxes and yet to be displayed.

“It means a lot to me to have respect from my fellow breeders and competitors,” Tallmon said.

Last Christmas was another low point for Tallmon. Overcome with emotion, she wrote out an e-mail describing her desire to work with llamas on a full-time basis. That e-mail went out to many people, and the response she received was “unreal.”

“Hundreds of doors opened in all directions,” she said. “Now, all of the good I’ve done over the years is coming back twice as much.”

The past few weeks have been incredible for the Hidden Oaks Llama Ranch. The down economy has made it difficult for most people to sell llamas. But Tallmon has sold five of them recently, and still has several phone calls to return.

Since 1999, Tallmon has sold more than 400 llamas. Of those, 170 were rescues.

by: NEWS PHOTO: SCOTT JORGENSEN - A group of llamas runs to greet Tallmon as she makes her rounds. Tallmon has found other ways to spread her love of llamas. For example, she takes one of the creatures to assisted living facilities. It just jumps right into her minivan alongside her for the entire drive.

“There’s a calming affect that they have on people,” she said. “They continue to amaze me with the things they do.”

She’s also started a llama lease program for 4H children ages 8 through 18 to give young people the chance to be exposed to the animals. So far, three llamas have been leased through the program.

It doesn’t stop there. Tallmon also plans to start the Llama Llovers Hiking Group and a spinning, knitting and craft group. She’s envisioning the creation of a youth camp at the ranch, where children can come and spend time with the llamas. Another possibility is bringing llamas to events like children’s birthday parties.

All things considered, Tallmon has come a long way since taking her leap of faith late last year. She admits to the occasional bit of nervous apprehension, but is increasingly confident that there is nothing else she would rather be doing.

“It’s something I know I can make work,” Tallmon said. “This is my life. It’s what I love.”

For more information, call Sherri Tallmon at 503-630-5173 or go to www.hiddenoaksllamaranch.com.