Imagine not owning any llamas and making your first trek to “Llama Mecca” – The Catskill Game Farm in beautiful Upper State New York. Having sold our small herd of quanacos, which Richard Patterson had been raising and breeding at Walnut Valley Farms in Richfield , Ohio since 1956, we decided to go to purchase two pair of llamas for starters. Roland Lindemann’s Catskill Game Farm was the biggest and best for llamas of the many game farms and zoos in America during the 1960s and 1970s. Excitement increased as 2 young Arabian horse breeders covered miles of winding roads on a lovely fall day flooded with the colors of a forest fading into hibernation.
Mr. Lindemann, a warm, self made man, met us at the main game farm visitor center which was already closed for the season. Catskill was our first llama department store and being able to walk around and look a group of 300 llamas was an most overwhelmingly, delightful experience. We became instant “llamaholics” on that day! Not being able to agree on which two females and males we wanted to take home, we ended up choosing 9 pair of weanlings at the going rate of $1000 per pair. Never in our fondest imagination had we any idea of how this purchase would affect our future journey or the journeys of so many others. Upon returning home, we carefully entered all 18 in our first Stud Book. Entry #1 was Hildegard, a tall white and beige paint who gave us 15 live, normal crias and was buried on Hinterland in 1994 carrying a 7 month old male fetus.
We moved from Ohio to Oregon in 1973 with 30 llamas. Richard had a dream. One hundred llamas! Catskill purchases contributed 79 llamas in the first 4 years to the foundation of Patterson Llamas selective breeding program, which herd totaled 500 by the end of 1976. The influence of Catskill stock as a foundation for the llama phenomenon and llama industry cannot be over-estimated. From the initial Patterson purchase, a male named Bask would become the double grandfather of Paul & Sally Taylor’s legendary sire The Fiduciary, one of the all time most popular, money-making sires ever.
Two of the most influential Catskill legendary sires came to Patterson Llamas inutero in 1975: Dr. Doolittle (311 registered get, all bred by the Pattersons) and Chief Sitting Bull (302 registered get, all bred by the Pattersons.) In 1979, another legendary sire-to-be, Errol Flynn 1978 M (unknown Catskill) was added to the Patterson program in 1979 and later sold to Pam & Richard Freeman, LA, ending up with a total of 264 registered offspring. The last Catskill legendary sire was Jackpot 1983 M (117 registered get) who came to Patterson Llamas as a yearling in 1984 for a then record price of $35,000. Jackpot was buried in 2003 (age 20+) at Hinterland.
Some major Catskill dams of note still found in pedigrees today are: Annabell, Cat Balou, Christy Love, Estee Lauder, Fluffy, Jane Mansfield, Mabelline, Madamoiselle, Peggie O’Neil, Senta Berger. Many other excellent Catskill llamas became foundation animals for programs across the country.
While Catskill did not keep records for their llamas, Mr. Lindemann had a good eye for conformation and saved several of the best males each year to raise as future sires. He often said that llamas were his favorite game farm animals. Phenotypically, Catskill llamas had correct conformation, straight backs, good tails & tail carriage and pretty faces with big dark eyes. Although probably closely inbred because careful records were not kept, few problems were ever seen and the animals had good longevity, were fertile, the females good milkers. Until the Chilean importations began in 1983/84, and because Roland Lindemann had been “King of the Llamas” (until he turned his crown over to Richard Patterson in 1976 when the Patterson herd out-numbered Catskill’s) Catskill blood was predominant in the US llama population.
At the 1988 GALA Conference in Winterclove, NY the Pattersons presented Mr. Lindemann with a beautiful black and white 1984 male named Fortune Hunter (Eclipse – Fortune Cookie) in thanks for the contribution Catskill llamas had made to the Patterson program and llama industry. So many wonderful memories of days spent with the Lindemanns, selecting llamas and sharing warm hospitality, hardy fare, and Mrs. Lindemann’s Christmas stollen at their table . . . It was with great sadness to hear that Catskill closed its gates for good on October 9th of this year. Blessings and thanks to all who participated in purchasing and providing new homes to those who stood to end their lives in a far different manner.
Over so many years, it was with great sadness to hear that Catskill closed its gates for good in October. Blessings on all who participated in purchasing and providing new homes to those who stood to end their lives in a different manner.