Saturday, November 6, 2010

Running with the llamas

Today I had a nice visit with two of my Aunts and two of my cousins, who came to see the farm and my little ones. It was great fun. I was telling them the story of our morning farm activities...

I was cleaning the house, preparing for the family visit, when my eyes were drawn to the window as Richard went running by. What on Earth?, I wondered and ambled back to my bedroom to get a look out the back windows. And there he was, and it looked like he was messing with two large animals, cows? I thought, was he trying to shoo them away? It wouldn't be the first time there were cows wandering in the yard. But no, those weren't cows...they were my llamas! How did they get out?, I asked myself over and over, as I leaped over a million toys and dodged two small children who were very loudly and adamantly telling me that the cat had just thrown up on the living room floor. Oh boy!

"No time, no time," I yelled. "The llamas are out!" My brain was working hard and fast now. How would we catch two llamas, who were now free on the range, when we couldn't catch them in their pen? Think! Food? Llama candy? They loved the guinea food and would eat it out of my hand, and even come running if I had the guinea bucket out. Giving them llama candy I actually got to touch and pet them. Okay, guinea food and some halters. And the car. And the two little kids. "Kids, get your shoes on!" I yelled.

I got the little ones in the car and ran to get the halters and leads, all the time watching my two prized llama babies running across the field and Richard running after them, like a bad movie. Now he had a bucket, which he held out in front of him as he ran, offering it to what, llama butts? He who runs with llamas.

What did I think I was going to do? How could I possible make this situation better? I quickly dismissed the fear of my llamas running off into the woods, farther and further away. Would we actually be able to get them back? We needed help, I thought. Who could I call? No one. All of my neighbors were on the verge of elderly. Would any of them be able to chase down two teenage llama boys? Nah. It was Richard and me, and so far, he was doing a bang up job.

As an after thought, I let my two chihuahuas out of the house and told them to get in the car. Then I grabbed their harnesses and leashes, wondering where any of this would lead? I sped down the road as the llamas crossed to the other side and headed for some trees, doing everything they could to avoid Richard who was huffing and puffing by now.

I pulled into a driveway, thankful this house was for sale, and jumped out of the car, my heart pounding wildly. I grabbed my little cup of llama candy (guinea food) the leads and halters, and headed slowly towards the rebellious camelids, speaking softly and shaking the seed. I threw the halters to Richard. They looked at us with suspicion and ran back across the road. Now what, I wondered, and then remembered the two little dogs in the car who were barking furiously. Maybe they would scare the big animals back home or at least towards our farm, which was up the hill some distance.

I let out my little female chihuahua, the barker, Kierra, and let her run. Richard followed with the llama halters and leads. "Get the llamas," I told the tiny dog who charged the nearest llama, Vador, the black one. Now Vador is always interested in tiny creatures, like small children and guineas, and he turned and looked with amusement at the little dog who was sniffing at his feet. He stretched his long neck down to get a good sniff at her too, and then he began to dance, and I thought, oh dear God, now he's going to stomp on my little dog.

"Kierra," I yelled, hoping she would back off. I ran over and offered the llama candy to Vador, who fell for it and stuck his nose deep into the cup to reach the seed. I threw my arm around his neck and Richard put his halter on and snapped on the lead. "Tie him up." I yelled and turned to the other llama. "Turbo, come here boy," I said and shook the cup at him.

Richard had tied Vador to... the neighbors' gas meter? Really? "I don't know if that's a good idea," I said, but Richard was gone. He had grabbed Kierra, who had been running off into the neighbors' yard, and was now taking her back to the car. Turbo, meanwhile, was headed up the road with no interest in me, the llama candy or his buddy Vador. He, in fact, was so proud of himself and his new found freedom he would occasionally kick his feet into the air like some happy little bucking bronco llama.

I quickly untied Vador and decided to follow Turbo up the road. At least he was headed in the right direction. Richard followed in the car with the kids and dogs. So we walked, my llamas and me, all the way home, and when we reached our driveway, Turbo looked at it and began to walk on by. I called to him and led Vador into the yard, hoping, and praying that Turbo would worry and follow. (Normally, Turbo is the protector, and when Vador goes anywhere, Turbo follows, or tries to.) Sure enough, he was following us. Around the truck and up the path...and then he wasn't.

Turbo had detoured off into the upper garden, toward the guinea house, so I pulled Vador back around that way too, and used his lead and his big old llama body to trap Turbo, until Richard came to the rescue with the other halter and lead. After that, it was easy. We lead them back into their pen and I gave them each a little llama candy and thanked them profusely for coming home.

Then I headed inside to scrub cat puke out of the living room carpet.

And here I was wondering what I was going to write about. Later I thanked Richard for giving me some good blogging material.

Always make sure the gates are closed. And make sure again, just to be safe.

Kierra: llama herding, working dog

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