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‘Let’s go see Millie!’

Llama captures the heart of many, becomes cherished companion for Sacred Heart woman

By PATRICIA BUSCHETTE


A llama at a bachelorette party? Why not?


In December of 2018, Morgan and Nick Lecy of rural Belview purchased a llama as a surprise feature in a bachelorette party for Morgan’s sister, Molly. The party was scheduled for March 23, 2019, so the llama was hidden from everyone in plain sight in a herd of cattle for a few months.


Later dubbed “Millie,” the llama was prepared for her surprise appearance at the party. A few days before the party, she traveled in the Lecy horse trailer to rural Sacred Heart to the home of Evie Elliot, Morgan’s grandmother.

Emily Filzen, Sarah Hoff (Evie’s granddaughter), and Emma Rice, posed for a picture with Millie on Sept. 8, 2019, the day of Evie’s 80th birthday party. Contributed photo

“Morgan did a super job of brushing and trimming Millie while I held her,” Evie said. Her white fur was cleaned and brushed, and she was ready to party.


Millie took her place of honor at the celebration, waiting patiently for the party to begin. “She stood so still,” Evie remembered, “that when she moved, Molly was startled.”

“She’s real!” Molly exclaimed.


While Molly was the guest of honor, it appeared that Millie had the spotlight. “Millie enjoyed the party with all the attention and photographs taken with her,” Evie explained.


Millie took up residence with her new master on Evie Elliot’s farm site. Nick and Morgan Lecy provided all the hay, protein pellets, and cracked corn, and Millie grazed on grass. As time went on, Millie became more acclimated to her surroundings. She became a very important part of Evie’s life as she undertook the chores necessary in a llama’s care.


When asked about any fencing required, Evie explained, “At first we had roped off an area, but Millie slid under the rope, and was free to roam the yard.”


The Elliot home is adjacent to Renville County Road 9, a busy highway. Initially, there was concern that the llama would make her way to the road. While that was not a problem, Millie did decide to take a stroll.


“One day she walked into the soybean field by the barn,” Evie said. “I ran after her and called out ‘No! No!’ When I caught up with her, and we walked back to the barn, I asked her if she wanted a fence!”


The lecture continued on a nonverbal basis as the two stared at each other for several minutes.


“The next morning, she was by the field again,” Evie remembered. “She turned and looked at me. I shook my head and shouted ‘No!’”

Evie Elliot of rural Sacred Heart and Millie the llama have a heart to heart talk. The two built a good companionship over the years. Millie was known as a bit of a celebrity in the area, appearing at parties and nativity scenes, and being a fan favorite for kids and adults alike. Contributed photo

“Apparently the lesson was learned,” Evie said. “She turned around and walked away from the field, and it was no longer a problem – she never did it again.”


What was it like to adopt a llama? “It was a fun adventure,” Evie said. “When they asked to put her in my barn, I never dreamed we would get so attached.”


The relationship proved to be a meaningful one for Evie, and the llama became a community attraction, as people would drive by, back up, and watch with amazement to see a llama seemingly so at home on a Renville County farm site.


Millie’s response to life on the Elliot farm site was similar to that of a family dog. She wandered about, causing no problem. Evie related that if she mowed the lawn or tilled in the garden, Millie would lie nearby without concern. “I would simply turn to her and say ‘You’re alright … You’re alright,’” Evie said, and Millie would relax and watch the action.


Millie proved to be the life of any party, and on Sept. 8, 2019, on the occasion of Evie’s 80th birthday, once again, Millie came to the farm shop on Dan and Beth Elliot’s farm to help celebrate. As Evie points out, despite the fact that it was a birthday party, Millie was the center of attention and patiently, and with apparent enjoyment, posed for photos with family and friends.


Millie’s third venture unto the theatrical stage was during a nativity setting. When Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sacred Heart, Minnesota, planned a drive-by nativity in December 2021, they asked Evie if Millie would be available to take the role of a camel. She was in the company of family, Evie pointed out, as her son-in-law Nick and grandson Caleb were Wise Men.


The Nativity involved several people, including those who served as carolers and narrators. There were sheep, goats, and donkeys that filled out the animal world, with residents of the community representing the Holy Family and other cast members. Each role included an extra, so there was an opportunity to warm up inside. As for Millie, llamas have fur designed to protect them against extreme cold, which can be as low as 40 below zero at night in the high Andes Mountains.

Millie was able to pull off the role of a camel in a drive-by living nativity at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sacred Heart. Contributed photo

According to Evie, approximately 700 people drove by the setting. “It was a long evening, but Millie played her part well. She did become tired, and halfway through the evening, decided to sit and rest.”


This past June, a three-man shearing crew from Montana came to the Elliot farm to provide a spa day for Millie. Seth, Braden, and Lincoln manicured and sheared Millie. She didn’t look the same afterward with much of her fur gone. To protect her from the sun, they applied sunscreen. Millie seemed dazed by the experience, and made her way to the lawn where she found a shady place to rest.

While Millie’s age was not known, it is believed that she was on the upper level of old age. The average lifespan of a llama is 20 years, and Millie was reaching the end of it. She suffered from a gimpy leg, would frequently fall, and Evie would be required to lift her back up again. This became more and more difficult for both llama and master.


On Sunday morning, July 24, 2022, Millie fell asleep in her barn stall and peacefully died.


“I didn’t realize how much I would miss her and the chores,” Evie said, adding that many others will miss her as well. Family, friends, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would say, “Let’s go see Millie!”


Evie reports that she has received sympathy cards acknowledging Millie’s death from those in the community and far beyond who had come to know the llama that was so famous in the community.


When Evie’s great-grandchildren came to visit, the first thing they did was toddle off to the barn and sit on the two stumps placed outside the barn waiting for their friend. After Millie’s death, the little ones still hurry to the barn and wait for Millie to make an appearance.


It is a sad time for all those who came to admire this beautiful and loving animal. While she will be missed by many, Evie Elliot lost a beloved companion.

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