I got a new llama!!!!!
She is black like Dali, with a white mask. Sort of looks like a negative of the lone ranger.
The other day I saw a llama for sale in the paper. It was female, fully registered and papered. I thought there might be a misprint, because she was going for 400 dollars, and usually a registered female is five to ten times that. I’ve wanted to buy my Dali a girlfriend for ages, but didn’t think I’d ever get one because the girls are simply too expensive for a live pet yard ornament, which is all they are for me. I use the hair for spinning, and I delight in watching them, but I don’t train them to work as pack animals (although that would be fascinating) and I’m not a breeder or anything. I’m an animal hobbyist, with limited resources. Nevertheless, I keep looking at female llamas, just wishing I could afford one. I figure Dali deserves love, ya know.
Anyway, I go see the llama, expecting her to be 100 years old or something, but she is the same age as my male, only 5. And she is beautiful. Regal. Not a mean bone in her body. Doesn’t spit or misbehave. I ask why the fellow is selling her.
He tells me she was purchased as a guard animal for his sheep, but he has sold off the sheep to a local spinner and he has no need for a llama now. He wants to let her go so he can get some horses.
Horses, you say? Well, it just so happens I have horses for sale. Let’s make a deal.
I’ve been wanting to sell three of our four horses (one is my dearest animal soul-mate, and I’ll be keeping him for life) but the others I’m ready to let go. Four horses are too many. The work load and expense far outweighs the benefits, sad to say. I had romantic visions of the family going for an evening ride after dinner, but the fact is, we don’t and never will. Neva and I are the only two who ride, and I alone take care of the horses – more than we need or use. It is becoming such a chore that the romance is starting to fade. Time to scale back to keep my love of horses alive. I would far prefer being able to spoil two horses and have more upscale horses than kill myself trying to meet the needs of four. Quantity is not a good thing here so much as quality.
We bought Mark a horse, but with Mark’s arthritis, he simply can’t ride. And the animal he picked (which I told him was not a good choice) is high strung, spirited and a bully to the other animals. He is the prettiest dang horse you ever did see, but looks aren’t everything. I can ride him, but it isn’t pleasant because he demands such a firm hand, and he likes boys best anyway. I wouldn’t dare put a guest on him unless they have experience.
Our mare is lovely, but she is rather petite and a simple country horse. Not as well trained as I’d like for our use. Her baby, April, is a year away from being old enough to train, and it will be a costly investment for a simple country horse. So, I’m selling all three, hoping to purchase a higher quality quarter horse with manners and training. I’m hoping to find an eight to ten year old pinto (love the way they look) with some horse showing experience. I feel we need two bomb-proof, well mannered horses that I can put kids or guests on without fear, that way Neva can ride alone with friends, and I can be relaxed when riding with her, focused on her instead of my unsteady mount. Anyway, that is the master equsterian plan.
The hardest thing about selling a horse is the fear that you are sending it to an unhappy home. I took one look at this fellow’s (his name was Rick) pure green pasture (looks like a golf course – ha, won’t look like that for long when he puts horses out there) and found out he is opening the new organic food store for pets, and KNEW I had to sell this guy a horse. The horse will be fed well, taken care of, and loved. You simply can’t be sad about that.
I asked why the llama was so reasonably priced. He wanted to be honest and told me that she had a baby last year, and refused to nurse it. The owner (a breeder) got mad so he sold her cheap. he used her for a guard llama, but Cayotes killed his two baby lambs, so she wasn’t perfect in that capacity either. He doesn’t know what to do with a llama now that his sheep are gone, so he just wanted to get her out of his pasture. I knew at that moment I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Yippee!
I asked if the baby died, but he said they “tubed her”. If you don’t want to be bothered bottle feeding an orphan, you can stick a tube in their throat and force the food in fast. He said if I have a male and I was looking for a mate, I’d probably not want this particular llama as a mother. It might be inviting work into my animal world.
Are you kidding? Bottle feed a baby llama and make her tame as can be? That is supposed to turn me off?
I asked Mark what he thought of our having a llama baby if it is possible the mother won’t do her job. He said, “Neva will be thrilled to bottle feed it. I don’t care, if you don’t. It will be interesting.”
The next day, Rick delivered her. She moseyed into the pasture, her ears back as if she was highly agitated. It usually takes about ten days for a llama to calm down and accept new surroundings. I was curious about how Dali would respond to a new llama in his field. I figured they’d take some time getting to know each other – sniff and stuff, then hopefully they would become friends and eventually, mate.
He saw her come into the pasture, made a loud grunting sound (llamas don’t usually make sound) and came running. We were all like, “Wow, he sure is interested…” Then, he jumped right on her and they began doing the nasty – which really isn’t nasty at all. Sort of sweet, in my opinion. But there was no “hello”. No “nice to meet you.” Just instant carnal animal love. I figured it was love at first sight. An instant soul mate sort of thing.
Actually, I was a bit embarrassed for her. We were all staring. The poor thing didn’t get a chance to even look around at her new digs and this horney guy was all over her. Not that she seemed to mind. She was amiable enough.
They mated for about an hour, Dali grunting out loud in the most obnoxious way the entire time. Rick laughed, Neva stared. I made excuses for my sex-crazed boy llama. After a while, the girl laid down, obviously bored with this long ordeal. Llamas don’t go “in season”, and as such, they can get pregnant any time. So in eleven months, I’m quite sure I’ll be watching a baby llama come into the world. How exciting is that!!!!
Meanwhile, Rick looked at our horses, fell instantly in love with Mark’s horse and bought him on the spot. Didn’t even have to ride him. I had a lump in my throat the size of a baseball.
It was sad seeing Goliath get loaded into the same trailer that brought our llama (the name on her papers is is Pualani and we will keep it. It’s a nice name.) but I was relieved too. It is hard to let an animal go, but I know my limits and I’ve assessed our needs and a few less horses (especialy this one) is for the best. I’ll admit, I can’t stop thinking of Goliath though, and I couldn’t sleep the first night, imagining him lonely and missing his herd. He was very attached to his ladies here. Finally, Mark told me to drive by Rick’s pasture so I will feel better. Clearly I have separation issues.
That evening, someone else came to ride Dixie (our mare). They may take her OR our baby horse, April, and will let us know in a few days. So it looks like horse number two will be going soon. Pang goes the heart.
I thought Neva might be upset by the changes, but she was accepting of it all. She is mostly worried that if baby goes, donkey will be lonely. They are best buds. But she is excited to get a replacement horse, and the idea that we will have a baby llama seems to sweeten the deal. I seem to be the only one sad over the natural evolution of our hobby farm. Guess I’m not as “country” as I pretend, because I take all this to heart and worry so much about these animals and their happiness.
Other changes have occurred. Joe, our rooster finally got over his dog attack, but it changed his personality drastically. Suddenly he started attacking us – mostly Neva. Um…. That is a quick way to get in a stew pot. It got to where we had to hold up the garbage can lid as a shield whenever we went to feed the chickens. It made us laugh, but it was a drag too, and we were getting gouged badly on the leg when we didn’t see him coming. So I offered him to one of the construction workers building our new barn (more news yet to be revealed) and he took Joe home. He now spends each day crowing on the fellow’s roof. He is still a pet, but for someone else now.
Meanwhile, one of the guaranteed female chicks I bought grew up to be male. There is one chance in 1000 of that happening, I’m told. My luck. It is like the universe sends me chicken boys – ahem – I mean boy chickens. So one of my Rhode Island Reds, formerly named Lucy, is called Mr. Lucy now. We have a new rooster, and as yet, he isn’t a mad, attack rooster. Knock on barn wood.
Speaking of which, since we sold the Sarasota building we are finally getting a real live barn. I scaled back from my origional plan to have a big ol monster barn, to a more modest two stall barn with a tack room and feed room , open area in between and an upstairs area to house my baby chicks and other projects. There is a hay storage area on one side, and a roofed corral on the other (for donkey). I’m so excited. I didn’t want anything too big because there are other things I want in life (like travel) but I sure wanted an indoor area for working with these animals. I figure my peacock can roost there too. It is going to be a really nice barn, perfect for my needs but not overwhelming to maintain.
Here is the skeleton of the barn… I’ll show you it in each level of progress so you can experience a true modern era barn raising….
It sounds funny, but I’ don’t crave a pretty deck or fine furniture for the house like other ladies might. I’ve been longing for a barn above all else ever since we moved here. I’ve been out there taking care of animals in sleet and rain, stumbling around in the dark, wondering why I keep at it without the proper facility. But that commitment earned me a barn in the world of hobby-karma, I guess. Yippee. I fear there is no limit to my animal experiments now that I have a home base. Uh Oh. I sure like getting dirty out there, and I rather think it will be fun to be able to ask my husband if he wants a roll in the hay and to really mean it!
Early, the peacock, is doing fine. People have asked for an updated picture, so here one is. I let him out each day, and he hangs around with the chickens, but he never goes far from his pen. He will have a new, bigger pen with a little peacock house built along side the chicken pen, as soon as the barn is finished. It’s next on my never-ending list. Hopefully, by then, I’ll know if his future buddies have hatched (the eggs are still in my office in the incubator, cooking). Early is only two months old, and it takes three years for a peacock to fully mature so he is still just a baby. We won’t see if he will have long male tail feathers for a few months. The anticipation of authenticating his sex is killing me. He is sure sweet and easy to care for. I let him roam the barn area, but when I want him to go back into his pen at night, he walks right in. Good bird.
His chicken buddy is never far from his side. She looks like Cruella Deville (thus her name). She is hyper and not so very loveable. Ah well – not all poultry personalities are created equal.
Anyway, to finish the llama tale. . . I thought perhaps the llamas, having discovered their passion for eachother, might be going at it on and off – like rabbits or something. I imagined them snuggling together in the field, basking in friendship or love or what have you. I took my camera up there a few hours later to see if I could get a picture of them together (I thought mating llamas would make good blog fodder to keep everyone from getting bored.) But alas, they were at two opposite sides of the pasture. Hun? I was flabergasted. Was this a one night stand thing? How mortifying. Not like they can go their seperate ways, stuck together in a field.
I haven’t seen them acknowledge eachother even a tiny bit since that first moment they met and got it on. In fact, Dali sort of stays far away from Pualani, and when it is dinner time, he will walk all the way around the pasture, as far as he can, to avoid going near her. She presses her ears back and hisses if he even looks at her, and he lifts his eyes to me as if to say, “What have you saddled me with, Gin?” I guess, the real Pualani is a bitch, but she waited to get what she wanted to let it show. She used him for llama sperm, and she is done with him. Sad.
This is the closest they’ve been to eachother since that first day, and it takes a half hour for Dali to venture this near to her. They sure look like a matched set, don’t you agree? I would have prefered a white mate for my black llama, hoping the babies would be multicolred, but beggers can’t be choosers. And the offspring still may turn out any color. You never know what will come out of past breeding and Paulani does have some white in her coloring.
I hope time will make them more congenial and better friends. Otherwise, what was the point? But I am a romance writer, so no one knows better than I that the relationships that start off rocky and full of distain (yet with smoldering passion underneath) are the ones that become the fantastic love stories that make you sigh in the end.
I’ll keep you posted, and I’ll keep my camera on hand . . . just in case something “interesting” occurs.