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Lost llamas and bad bears

The pasture has exploded with daisies and my llamas like to nestle down in the middle of them in the early evening. I thought this was striking, so I took a picture.
Then, another “bear event” (which I’ll explain later) happened and for the next two days my llamas didn’t come out of the trees which run along the border of the pasture. When it is hot or raining, the llamas stay tucked away in the shade and it’s been hitting 90 this week, so I didn’t think much of their absence. Until  they didn’t come out to eat in the morning for two days straight. That was uncommon.

I started to get concerned because Pulani is due to have her baby in one month. I wondered if it was possible she gave birth early and the llamas were in the woods with a newborn. Sometimes, llamas need help with the birthing process, and Pulani turned away her last baby, so I am on standby to do what I can to make this season’s birth go on sucessfully. I also couldn’t help but notice the llamas had been missing since “the bear event”. Hummm……… gave me a nagging sense of unease.

So, in the early morning, I decided to take a walk in the pasture to hunt them out. Pulani was lying in the trees, nonchalant. Still pregnant. But Dali was no where around. They usually stick close to each other, so I considered this odd. I walked the entire circumference of the pasture. No Dali. I figured I must have missed him, so I walked along the fence again, checking to see if any portion of it was knocked down to allow escape. The fence was intact, but there was no Dali. I took a third spin around the huge pasture, now looking for signs of a dead llama, not that I expected to find such a thing, but since I was unable to explain his absence I had to check. Nothing.

I’ve left this pasture dormant so the grass will grow and repair itself. So far, I’m growing daisies, not the coveted grass I seeded. Ah well.  Llama’s tread lightly and eat little, so they’ve had the run of the place to themselves while the horses are maintained in the front, beat to hell, all dirt and weeds, pasture. This means the gate to the lush pasture has not been opened for weeks. Llamas don’t jump fences and they don’t try to escape. If they do get out, they hang around because they are territorial, especially when their mate is nearby – herd creatures stick together. Llamas are mellow and standoffish, like cats, but they do attach to home and I have some very content llamas, which curbs wanderlust.

So, how is it my male llama has simply disappeared? I can’t figure it out.

I’ve been baffled and bothered, which soon escalated to “worried.” Yesterday, I put a “lost llama” add in the paper and made flyers to put up at the feed store and post office. I’m slapping them on signs and putting them in neighbor’s mailboxes. A few people have suggested that my llama might have been stolen, but who would venture all the way into our land, unnoticed, to steal a llama, which is damn hard to catch, by the way? And yet, if he was attacked by something, and I can’t imagine anything around here that could kill a llama, other than a cockeyed hunter, I’d certainly see llama remains. Not like even a bear can haul a 600 pound animal over a fence.  If Dali got out of the pasture on his own, he wouldn’t have wandered far. It’s as if he just sunk into the daisies and vanished forevermore.

I’m devastated; waiting by the phone hoping someone will call and say he wandered into their yard and I should come get him. Because deep down, I can’t stop thinking it might be connected in some way to the bear incident.

Early one morning this week, I heard my dogs going crazy outside. They often bark at daybreak, chasing raccoons or possums and/or greeting the new day with a boisterous racket. But this day, their barking was furious and wild – coming from the barn. I wondered if they were wrestling with coyotes or stray dogs so I hopped into my mule to go check. When I got there, the dogs had run off, chasing something. There was one dead chicken on the ground. Considering I now have 70 chickens (too many) I was not exactly devastated. Dead chickens happen. I checked on my duck, who’s still sitting on eggs in the barn (which have long passed their due date, so they aren’t going to hatch, but I don’t have the heart to take them away from her. She’s been such a diligent mother – but alas, if you don’t nookie with the boys, your eggs will never be more than just eggs.) She was fine – though she hissed at me to leave her alone. The ingrate.

I decided to feed the rabbits as long as I was down at the barn and that’s when I noticed that the cage erected high on the wall of the chicken house holding my young bunnies had been tampered with again. This time, the stiff wire side had been pried away from the top, breaking all the metal fasteners and a strong metal support had been bent at a  90 degree angle. Heck, it’s such a thick piece of metal that I couldn’t even bend it back into place. This clearly has to be a bear – nothing else can reach that high or do that kind of damage. My bunnies were huddled in their nesting box, sitting in their own urine – obviously traumatized, but safe at least.

I was pissed. Damn bear. Poor bunnies.

So, I decided to drive back to the house to get my car and go to Home Depot to get what I needed to repair the damage and further secure my cages. But as I turned the corner, I see the back end of a black bear wandering into the woods. The roar of the mule made him run off. He was larger than my dogs (which are big) and his butt was two feet wide. Big bear. I stopped the mule, wishing I had a gun. I’m a gentle, animal lover, but I was seeing red and well – at least a be-be gun or a powerful paint gun would have been nice. A glue gun, perhaps?

I get off the mule and head into the woods to follow the bear. I wanted to see him up close. Don’t’ ask me what I would have done if I found him – tell him off or something. (When I told this to my mother later, she told ME off for tracking a bear. I had to hear all about every bear attack that ever happened in North Georgia. Sigh.)  But somehow, that sneaky bear just disappeared the moment he entered the woods. At least I had my proof now about who’s been messing with my rabbits. Damn bear.

I called Mark at the office and said, “Honey, something was messing with my angoras again, and it IS a bear because I just saw him running through the woods towards your workshop.”
Mark said (I kid you not), “Don’t worry Babe; a bear won’t hurt any of my tools.”

Like I was worried about his tools. Did he think I imagined the bear would crank up the chain saw and come after the rabbits with a weapon, like Rambo-bear? I was like, ‘Um… there’s no food in your workshop, I know he won’t bother anything there. I just wanted you to know he’s in the area and there’s no longer a question of what’s doing the damage at the barn.” 

“I can’t come home now to shoot a bear for you,” he said. “I’m on call.”

Clearly, the man wasn’t getting my drift. I didn’t expect him to do anything about the bear – I just wanted to vent. The bear was already gone –and even if Mark did drive the 35 minutes home with a rifle on his shoulder like the cavalry, the bear would even goner. 

Last night, the big wooden plank I keep on top of my rabbit cage for extra security was thrown eight feet again and another tarp was demolished. Something is gonna have to be done about the bear. It’s against the law to kill a bear, but a friend of ours says he wouldn’t mind relieving me of the burden, and he’d even give me a nice bear rug for Christmas. Um… no thanks. I’m alergic to dead things that leave me racked with guilt.

Mark explained that his gun won’t penetrate a big bear’s hide so if he shot at it, he’d only hurt the beast at best, which might just make the animal mad as hell and it would attack. He found out we can call the Park commission and they will set a bear trap and cart it away to the state park. That is probably what we’ll do.

Meanwhile, I’m now worried about my bees. In two minutes flat, Bears will destroy a hive that took a full year to build up.  I’m pretty convinced my rabbits are secure, but that doesn’t mean they are comfortable with a hungry bear working on the cage every night like it was rubics cube he’s trying to solve– and hey, he still might get lucky one night if he keeps at it.

And where the hell is my llama? Sort of spooky, the fact that he disappeared the same day the bear visited. Now, if the bear would just go eat those rotten duck eggs and save me from having to be the one to disappoint my dear little duck, I wouldn’t be half as mad at him.

These are the kind of troubles I deal with now a days in my “Little House on the Prairie” stage of life. I figure if these are my complaints about life, I should have no complaints – for even in Eden there’s bound to be a few bad apples. This month, these just happen to be mine.



About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

One response »

  1. Its “BB gun”; not “be be gun”. You seem happier now than in the past. Congrats! Not much new here; e-mail me sometime and I’ll fill you in.



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