Rain, Sunshine, and Llama Alopecia

September 28, 2010

After a couple days of rain. . .

photo of frog

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head. . .

… this morning we woke up to fog which burned off to reveal a sparkling fall day.  The weather is cooler, the sun is shining brightly… it’s my kind of day!

One of the roosters stood on his favorite gate and flapped his wings a bit. . .

picture of rooster

A little warm-up exercise

Then did a little crowing to greet the day. . .

picture of rooster crowing

Good morning to you!

He was not impressed with my presence.

photo of rooster

"What 'cha looking at?"

The sheep were out in the main pasture enjoying the sunshine.

photo of sheep

And our little goat went out to join them.

photo of red doe goat

Our llama, Keira, also went out to join the party and graze in the sunshine.

photo of 2 sheep and 1 llama

Enjoying the sunshine on a cool fall morning.

And how about a closer look at my poor llama girl. . .

photo of llama

A bald spot here, a bald spot there...

Yes, my poor sweet llama is losing her hair.  I’d totally freak out if I hadn’t seen this before.  The sheep in front of her had a rough pregnancy once, and I wasn’t sure she was going to make it.  Lots of TLC and meds, and she pulled through… but she lost all her wool.  She was a pink-toned sheep with a little white fuzz.  Trust me, they look a lot different when they’ve lost their wool as opposed to being sheared.

So here it is, getting cooler and my poor llama is losing her hair.  We may have to get her a blanket so she’ll stay warm this winter!

The Rest of the Story

August 31, 2010

Yesterday I wrote about Sam, our male llama, leaving the farm to go to a petting zoo. I said,

“So this morning a couple of guys came with a trailer, and we got Sam corraled, haltered, and down to the trailer. (That sentence was lot easier and quicker to write than the actual doing of the deed, believe me!)”

That was one of those “understatements.” But I didn’t write about it extensively yesterday being tired and needing to get to other work. However, I DID write about it last night in an email to a friend.

So as Paul Harvey would say, here’s “The Rest of the Story,” being lifted from the email I sent my friend.

“I got the humor email done, fixed eggs for breakfast, and stuff in a lunch box when the guy was calling to say he was almost here and double-checking directions. I guess I wasn’t clear enough, because he still ended up going to xxxx ROAD instead of our house on xxxx LANE.

I told him how to turn in the right direction, and he finally got here.  That’s when the real fun began. (That was sarcasm in case you’re wondering.)

First, he couldn’t get his truck and trailer through the gate and into the back yard and on into the llama pen so it would be close to Sam’s pen. I don’t know if his vehicle really was that much wider than our truck that we CAN get through there, but at any rate, he couldn’t do it.

That meant we had to walk Sam down from the pasture to the trailer in the driveway. This is a llama that just stays in the field, never wears a halter, and is certainly not trained to walk on lead.  And the shortest distance was to take him out of the little lot that is behind the sheep shed, straight down through the main pasture, back yard and into the driveway. Sounds easy enough, right? Ha! And again I say, HA!

To walk him so far, he needed a halter. Who do you suppose had to put the halter on him? Oh, you guessed that did you? Yes, after telling this guy I have a back condition and he needed to bring someone to assist him in loading Sam because I couldn’t help… I helped. A LOT.

Sam went up to the furthest little corner of that pen, close to the orchard.  As in about the furthest point he could get in the field away from where the trailer was in the driveway.  Figures!

Anyway, I got the halter on him and was holding him while the guy brought the lead rope. Sam was stomping his front feet and I told him to stop smacking my legs with his, and the guy said, “He’s not fussing with you, he’s standing in an ant hill.” OH NO!!!

Oh, YES, we were both standing in a fire ant hill. I got several bites on my ankles. they hurt like the dickens earlier today but are okay now. Of course, having been through this before, I know that I’m not necessarily home free on that. Sometimes they come back, so to speak, and swell up even bigger a day or two later. But maybe I’ll get lucky. (today’s note: I didn’t… the bites are red and swollen today… I seem to have a bit of an allergy or sensitivity or whatever to ant bites.)

Well, anyway, we got the lead rope attached to the halter, backed out of the ant hill and started down the pasture with Sam.  He wasn’t happy about it and balking.  Have you ever tried to move a big male llama that has planted his feet and does NOT want to go?

So I got the idea to run down and get a little piece of PVC pipe The Farmer had that he used some times to help herd animals.  While I was doing that, they got Sam further down the pasture, and get this… that guy who will be Sam’s new owner walked back and got my camera and lead ropes I had hung on a fence post, so I wouldn’t have to walk back and get them.

Wow! I told The Farmer this evening that “my own husband wouldn’t have done that.”  He agreed, and said my husband probably would have just reminded me I left them there, and don’t leave that expensive camera behind! Ha!

Which just goes to prove that not all Southern Gentlemen wear a suit and a tie, but some wear jeans and a tee shirt!   From talking to him on the phone, and meeting him today… I feel really good about where Sam is going. I think he is going to be with good people.

At any rate, it took us close to two hours to accomplish all this from the time they got here to the time we finally got the llama loaded in the trailer. He balked at every gate.

We got him as far as the driveway.  I had to stand and hold him quite a while there while the guy turned his truck and trailer around, because he had pulled in and there was such a narrow passage between the storage pod in the driveway and his truck and trailer, we all agreed we’d never get Sam through there the way he was not wanting to go through gates.  But of course this was a 4-horse trailer and the guy had quite a time backing out of our driveway and trying to get it turned around.

But at long last he did, and then we had to get Sam in the trailer. That was fun! (That’s sarcasm again, just so ya know.) The guy holding the lead rope we attached to the halter walked in the trailer ahead of Sam.

I had the rope we tied around Sam’s neck as an extra precaution and stood alongside the trailer with the rope threaded through a window and getting leverage on the metal post to keep him from backing out.

 The second guy was pushing on Sam’s butt, trying to push him up and into the trailer.

And Sam?  He had planted his front feet like a … donkey, and didn’t want to budge!

However, we finally eased him up to the trailer, and he stepped in.  Once he got his front feet in there, we worked fast to push him the rest of the way in and shut the trailer gate.

It took us a while, but we finally made it!”

And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.

Saying Goodbye to Sam

August 30, 2010

Our male llama, Sam, had a chance to go to a petting zoo.  The Farmer and I talked this over, and it seemed like a good choice.  He’ll have all kinds of company, kids can make a fuss over him, and it sounds like a good life for him.

boy llama

Sam, the male llama

We considered having him gelded and keep him here as company for our female llama, Keira.  Only problem with that is she has never liked him.  She ignored him when possible, fussed with him over resting spots, and did not hang out with him if she could help it. 

Actually, she and our female goat and the Maremma sheepdog were more often seen together than for her to choose to be anywhere in the vicinity of the male llama.  Sam, on the other hand, has already been doing his funny hum – whine that indicates he’d like to get in the same pen with Keira.  And there is just NO way we wanted that to happen! 

So this morning a couple of guys came with a trailer, and we got Sam corraled, haltered, and down to the trailer.  (That sentence was lot easier and quicker to write than the actual doing of the deed, believe me!)  He was especially leery about getting into the trailer, but we finally managed to push him in.

head of boy llama

"Where am I going?"

I was sad to see him go, because he is laid-back sweet boy, but I am also relieved.  Now he doesn’t have to stay penned up by himself or be gelded, and we don’t have to worry about him getting loose.

truck and trailer

"Bye Sam!"

Enjoy your new home Sam!

Out of the woods. . .

August 27, 2010

I’m not talking literally here, but referring to the saying of someone “being out of the woods” when they are finally out of trouble.

And that someone I’m referring to is our pet llama.

After she gave birth, I figured she’d be lethargic for a day or two.  The vet gave her an antibiotic at that time.  But it became obvious that she wasn’t gaining strength like she should have, and she didn’t want to get up.  I had to do something drastic – like spray cold water on her back side in an effort to clean off some of the mess – to get her to move.

Her back legs were way wobbly when she got up, and she didn’t go far until she was down again.  She wasn’t eating much.  All bad signs.

So it was call the vet again, get instructions, and carry on.  She’s getting the heavy duty combination penicillin, and yesterday and today a shot of Banamine.  And shots of vitamin B complex, and a shot of Ivermectin and… she got so mad at me yesterday! 

Poor baby.  She wasn’t eating much, so when she’d try to spit at me when I was giving her shots, nothing happened.  She finallly got so exasperated that the she tried to bite at me.  When I’d step outside to check on her, she’d look at me out of the corner of her eye, but try to pretend she didn’t see me.

black llama

"Maybe if I pretend I don't see her she'll go away!"

But as much as I aggravated her, and as much as I can appreciate not liking shots, it’s obvious they are having a positive effect.  By yesterday evening she was ready to MOVE if she saw me come outside. . .

black llama

"I'm getting away from that needle happy woman!"

Today she is up and around grazing and moving without me pestering her.  That doesn’t mean she isn’t leery of my presence however.   Nope, when I went to check on her just a while ago, the look she gave me was priceless. . .

black llama

"Woman, I have had enough of you!"

Oh yeah, she’s feeling better.

Llama Life Moves On

August 24, 2010

Last night The Farmer dug a hole and we buried the little cria.  Little being the operative word here.  I was checking out the average weight of llama babies, and found this chart at Hinterland Llamas:

Weight at birth for llama crias:

  • 18 lbs. or less – suspicious; probably premature; be aware of the ‘failure to thrive syndrome”
  • 18-20 lbs. – guarded
  • 20-22 lbs. – monitor carefully
  • 22-30 lbs. – average, normal birth weight
  • 30-35 lbs. – may be slow
  • 35 & over – monitor carefully, can be slow and dumb, but are not necessarily so.

While it may sound strange, I must admit I found a lot of comfort in that chart.  Notice that the average birth weight of a llama cria is 22-30 pounds.  Even if we dropped down to the next level because our lady llama is on the small side, that would be 20-22 pounds.  And if the cria weighs 18 pounds or less, it’s in danger of the “failure to thrive syndrome” because it’s probably premature. 

Well, I weighed the little guy that was delivered yesterday.  He weighed 12 pounds.  That’s it, 12 pounds.  No wonder the first words out of the vet’s mouth after the baby was delivered were, “Is this baby early?”

I find comfort in that chart because it helps get rid of the guilt trip.  It doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t do.  It doesn’t matter what the vet did or didn’t do, or how fast he got here.  That baby was just too little to survive.

So it’s time for llama life to move on, and I’m concentrating on our getting our girl back to normal.  She didn’t move yesterday, although the midwife in the picture here:

llama kushed, dog beside her

Midwife Neffie in attendance.

… left when the vets did.  Yes, she stuck with Keira through all the labor and delivery, but as soon as the baby was delivered, she went out in the back yard and had a nap.  I guess she figured her work was over; there was nothing more she could do.

And though Keira rested up yesterday and never moved out of the shed, she did move early this morning out into a grassy area.

kushed llama

Resting in the shade.

She’s very weak though, so I’ve been giving her a favorite treat, cracked corn and sunflower seeds.  I squirted some Nutri-drench on part of it to see if I she’d eat that.  I thought a millisecond about trying to squirt the drench in her mouth but had an immediate picture in my mind of how that would turn out… no drench inside the llama because I’d be wearing it!

She’s also got a bucket of sugar water to drink, and she did get up on wobbly legs to graze a little.  I’ll keep a close eye on her until she seems to have regained her energy.  I want to see her healthy and happy again, and no more llama tears.

llama eye

Llama Tears

She’s been my baby since she was 6 months old, and I guess she’ll be the only llama baby we ever have around here.

Yes, it’s time for llama life to move on.