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Llamas, donkeys and coyotes, Oh My!

I saw my first coyote today, running across the road. It took me a minute to register just what I was seeing. At first, I thought it was a mangy dog, but that didn’t seem altogether right. Its ears were long, the hair shaggy, and the contours of the animal’s frame didn’t seem in proportion. This dog was simply too thin, with oddly muscular thighs and a long snout. In fact, it looked exactly like Whiley Coyote from the roadrunner cartoon. Had he a lit cannon ball of Acme dynamite in hand, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised. I’ve been told we have lots of coyotes around here, but I hadn’t actually seen one yet. I watched it run across the busy highway, tail between its legs as if it was afraid of everything it was encountering – afraid of civilization. Ha. Smart dog.


 


The Ferrier came to shoe our horses. It took approximately an hour per animal, so with four needing attention, making polite conversation was a given. He liked our donkey; thought he was gentle and cute (which he is.) He actually made an offer for Blackjack but I explained he’s a beloved pet and not for sale. He asked if we rode the donkey yet – and if not, just what we used him for. I explained that Blackjack is still just a baby. We will break him in later for riding and such. Now, he is just a lawn ornament that I spoil and pamper. 


I felt sort of silly, my obvious attachment to this donkey. “I know he doesn’t have much purpose, but I adore him,” I said.


The guy nodded as if that was a given, “Well now, you don’t have to tell me that. Thing is, everyone needs a donkey.”


 


That is what I love about the country mentality. Not everything here boils down to practical application or fiscal value. Here, if you love something, it counts. And even donkeys get the respect they deserve.


 


This led the conversation to animals. I told him we recently got rid of our goat because he was so much trouble, and he said, “Now, why’d ya go do that? Goats are good pets. Ya just gotta keep them contained.” He told me he has a goat that runs around the house in diapers. Gee, I hadn’t considered that option.


 


He told me he had a buffalo for a while.  Had the dang thing shipped all the way from Missouri. I asked what for the buffalo was for, and he said, “Same reason you have a donkey.” OK. I get that.


 


I asked why he didn’t still have it. He explained that Buffalos are mean as the dickens and the animal charged the fence every time anyone came near. Seemed dangerous, the way his kids run around, so he sold it.


 


Good decision. Scratch a  buffalo off my wish list.


 


I asked if he had a llama. He nodded and said, “Of course.”


I must have looked envious, because he said, “You should get one. Everyone needs a llama almost as much as a donkey.”


I have been thinking the same thing for some time now, but it is pretty hard to say so with a straight face to a husband who is buying the feed every month to maintain these new family members.


 


The Ferrier said his llama hardly ever spits, and, since his other business is training horses, he broke it in so his kids can ride it. Imagine that! I asked how much it set him back and he said he got his llama (black) for $600. That’s a bargain, and I told him so. His assistant looked up from shoeing the horse and said, “Mine was 600 too. If you look around and be patient, you can find one for in that range easily enough.”


 


There you have it. Everyone but me has a llama. Even the Ferrier’s assistant has one. I am a poor disadvantaged animal lover.          


 


I said, “If you ever come across another 600 dollar llama, give me a call. One of these days, I’m getting one.”


 


An hour after they left, they called and said they’d sell their llama for 750. I told them that until we had a barn, my husband really wouldn’t consider one more live creature to care for. Two hours later they called and said, “OK. You can have him for 600 bucks. (Here, they trade, sell, and acquire animals like baseball cards, letting one go when the opportunity arises, then replacing it soon after with something new. Me – I’m more of a “life commitment to animals in the family” sort  of person– that is, unless we’re talking about a totally bothersome goat.)


 


I must say, I have quite a hanker’in for that llama. (That’s country talk, ya’all) I figure I could “study” a llama if I had one, become more familiar with their habits and mannerisms. Make a new friend. Maybe write a story about him. Gather the shed fur to make some interesting yarn. (Don’t laugh – people do that around here.) But, for all that I can plead a case for getting a llama, I know my husband won’t go for it.


 


So, I told the fellow I’d get back to him, and looked for the opportune moment to bring it up with the spouse. Such a moment never came. My husband is stressed and distracted of late.


 


Having to face the fact I’m not going to find my husband in jovial spirits anytime soon, I just told him flat out about the conversation. I ended with this:


 


“I just thought I’d point out that I’d really, really, adore a llama someday. I know we need to wait until we actually live out at the land to get more entrenched with animal care, so I wouldn’t dare ask now . . .even though…well, my birthday IS coming up. But, I’m not asking you to get it for me, of course, even though, if you and your sister, and the kids and anyone else planning to buy me something wanted to chip in together, this is the only “thing” I could imagine ever wanting……. And well…. You have the guy’s number, in case you’re interested….. but I’m not really asking, cause that wouldn’t be fair…..”


 


My husband sighed and said, “You suck.”


 


I don’t ask for “things” much, (experiences, yes – things, no.)so clearly, I’ve put him in a precarious position. I’m guessing, in all fairness, I have to give him an “out”. So, I’ll mention that I’d also love one of the handmade wooden Indian flutes at Just Judy’s Art Gallery and shop. It is more reasonable gift in every way. There’ll be other llama opportunities in our future. Sigh.


 


The Vet came and gave Dixie a tetanus shot in preparation for the new colt. He gave us a good idea of what behaviors to look for, and what to expect during the actual delivery. I’m ready. I’m going out to the land twice a day now to give her extra feed so she will have a healthy milk supply. Today, I noticed she is starting to develop a milk sack. I’m all atwitter with excitement. Our animal care schedule is all a bit of a nuisance, I admit. I can barely keep up with my homework due to the time eaten up with the drive to our homestead and all, but still, it’s worth the trouble. I know you have to pay a price to gather meaningful life experiences on occasion. I’ve never regretted what was involved to embrace things that touch my heart and make me feel alive. The effort and or discomfort passes, but the memories stick.


 


I devoted today to car maintenance. (I know this seems like an erratic change of subject, but trust me, it ties in). I cleaned my car, then had an oil change, then tried to register it (needed Mark for that, because the title turns out to be in his name only … Grrrrr…) then I went to get new tires. The roads here, and all the mileage I put on, are killing my beloved vehicle but I’m combating it the best I can.


 


Anyway, at the tire shop, I read a sign about the upcoming 10th anniversary trade day at a local farm, April 29th. Apparently, over 400 people show up at this farm with horses, goats, donkeys, mules, chickens and other farm animals, farm equipment and all kinds of unexpected stuff, to buy, sale, trade or barter. They serve boiled peanuts, have local musicians entertaining, and the day is this wild, one of a kind, country event.


 


The tire man saw me reading the sign, and asked if I had any horses or such. I said, yes. He said, “Then you HAVE to go to this trade day. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever attended. (Well, that won’t exactly be a stretch, coming from Florida, suburbia, and the tunnel vision world of dance).


 


He said he never misses this trade day -he finds the most unusual stuff for fair prices there. And it’s fun. He told me about his indoor riding ring, his animals and how involved he’s become in what was at first, just as hobby. If you’ve got animals, you don’t want to miss this event,” he said. “It isn’t like a festival designed for tourists – it’s all locals – good people.”


 


Well – I do have animals, and I’m a local now, so I think I’ll go, just to see what 400 people dragging animals around looks like. I will leave my wallet at home, to avoid impulse buying so I don’t bring home a mean buffalo or some other creature the other guy no longer wants, (for a good reason.) Or maybe, I’ll just bring enough cash for a single rooster. Might come across the perfect Joe Cocker at a place like that. Hey, I might bring some bunnies to trade. Ya never know….


 


I imagine it will be a memorable day, and if nothing else, it’s bound to serve up some good blogging material to play with. The thing is, May 1st is Dixie’s due day. And that weekend, I plan to be camped out at the land, pacing with anticipation to see if our new horse comes out black or brown, male or female, slimy or clean. It is all such a new adventure for me. But perhaps I can leave Dixie for just a few hours, if I make her promise not to start anything while I’m gone. I know what signs to look for in early labor now. Imagine that. I’m turning into a horsewoman, by default.


 


I must attend to homework now. I’m behind this month, with a packet due April 3rd. There will be a few long nights ahead as I write my two book annotations and review my own book submission. I’m never this behind, but there’s been a lot going on this month (hospital visits and such) to distract me. I can’t seem to face that book right now. I wish I were writing something else.


 


Life is sweet. Tough, and sad on occasion, but sweet.


 


 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

One response »

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