Courting Llamas

October 13, 2009

Our llamas have been flirting with each other from a distance for weeks now.  It’s been obvious for some time that they’d like to be back together in the same pen, but we were keeping them apart to give Keira plenty of time to recover from losing her cria.  I also wanted to give them their yearly vaccinations before letting them back together.

Well, it’s been 5 months now since Keira lost her cria, so she ought to be in as good as physical shape as she’s going to get!  They’ve had their vaccinations, and since it’s supposed to be better for crias to be born in the fall and there’s an 11 – 11 1/2 month gestation – – – it’s time!

Accordingly, this weekend we let Samson out of solitary confinement.  He went out through a pasture Keira had been in and left some droppings, so naturally, had to stop and check them out.

Step 1 of the Llama Courtship Ritual:

Llama Samson doing his crazy courtship stance called a Flehmen response.

Don’t ask me why he feels it necessary to sniff then bare his teeth and arch his head and neck towards his back.  I guess if you’re a male llama, it’s just the thing to do.

But things really heated up when he got to where he could communicate with Keira directly across the fence.

Step 2 of the Llama Courtship Ritual:

In case you can’t tell, the male llama, Samson, is the one on the left with his motor running.

Our Maremma LGD (Livestock Guardian Dog) went crazy over the whole situation.  She sticks close to Keira and Cinnamon (our little doe goat), and she wasn’t happy about Samson making such a racket over Keira.  I think she was wondering if he had honorable intentions, ha, ha!

At first Samson didn’t realize that the gate was open to the pen Keira was in.  When he did. . . well, things got really serious!  Keira was receptive and Samson was raring to go!

Step 3 of the Llama Courtship Ritual:

Neffie, our Maremma Livestock Guardian Dog, barking a warning.

The llamas are in the shadows… hey!  Let’s give them some privacy, okay?  We’ll just say that if we don’t get a cria in 11 or so months, it won’t be because Samson didn’t do his part.

As for Neffie, she remained decidedly unhappy about the whole situation.  She kept looking at the llamas, then looking at me and barking, as if she were saying, “Are you going to let him get away with that???”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.

Sorry Neffie, but it’s the only way to get a cute little cria.   Besides, Samson is quite honorable.  He stays close to his woman, even after she gets pregnant and cranky.

Now if Keira will just deliver a healthy little cria next fall. . .

Giving our Maremma, Neffie, A Hair Cut

July 10, 2009

Once a year I have to give our livestock guardian dog, Neffie, a haircut.  This is not a fun event for either of us.  Neffie, for her part, is not a “people dog”.  Maremmas and other LGD breeds have been bred for centuries to be independent.  They are often aloof, and bonded tightly to their charges.  People are not needed for them to do their job.

Neffie carries this to the max.  She does not like to be handled by humans.  In fact, I would say the only real reason she can probably think of to have a human around is to put food in her bowl every night.

Nonetheless, she will tolerate me (and only me!) catching her and handling her.  She really doesn’t want to be petted, so for the most part I let her keep her distance.

When I need to catch her though, sometimes that presents a problem. If she doesn’t want to be caught, it’s just about impossible to corner her.  Fortunately, once she figures out I really want to get hold of her, she usually just sits tight and lets me come on.

Catching Neffie, our Maremma.

Is this really, REALLY, necessary?
As you can see, she could have taken off in the 3-acre field behind her, and there is no way I could have kept up with her.

Once I get a leash on her, I tie the lead to something with a good sturdy knot so she can’t bolt.

Maremma Neffie says, "Is this really neccessary?"

I repeat, is this really necessary?
Of course, you can’t do anything without our nosy goat, Cinnamon, poking around to see what she can get into.

Cinnamon, the goat, being nosy as usual!

So what’s this stuff?
Neffie’s coat doesn’t shed out well, and the chore of cutting it got put off much later than usual, so it was a matted mess.

Starting on Neffie the Maremma's haircut.

For my part, all that squatting and clipping is a killer.
I tried using the clippers, but they wouldn’t cut through the tangle, and no way was I going to try the shearers on her!  As it was, what happened first thing?  I was trying to get a mat and pulled it up to slip the scissors under it, but her skin pulled up too, so I cut her.

Talk about feeling lower than the proverbial snake’s belly!

Here’s this dog that trusts only me, and what do I do when she lets me catch her?  Right off, I cut her.  Oh man…. and she never flinched, growled, or nipped at me.  The only reason I even knew it is because even the tiniest amount of blood shows up real quick against all that white.  You can bet after that I was VERY careful to be sure my fingers were between her and the scissors.  I’d rather cut me than her.

Fortunately, she didn’t seem to be upset, and we kept to the job at hand.  Not that she liked the procedure, mind you, as you can see from this picture.

Neffie, the Maremma's, haircut.

Sitting on a bucket helped me a little, but Neffie still wasn’t thrilled.
I’ll admit I’m not too fond of the procedure myself, as it involves a lot of squatting, kneeling, and bending over.

Bending over to give Maremma Neffie her haircut.

The Cave Geek (a.k.a. Youngest Son) was official photographer for the event.  Of course, rather to my dismay, he also has the unfortunate tendency to like videos.  I was hoping he wouldn’t figure out how to take them with my new camera, but no such luck.


I had trouble getting the mats under Neffie’s ears.  There wasn’t a lot of space between the mat and her skin, and her ear kept flopping down in the way.

Cutting a mat out from under Neffie's ear.

No Van Gogh effects please!
It took over an hour, but I finally got the mats and old coat trimmed off, then gave her a bath with flea and tick shampoo.  She has a flea collar on, but I figured the bath would help tease out any mats left over.

One dripping wet Maremma.

One really, really ragged looking dog.
She was quite happy when I was finally down clipping, shampooing and combing and let her go.

You can see by the aftermath we took a lot of hair off her.

Hair, hair, everywhere!

Hair here, hair there, hair everywhere!
My aftermath was being laid up for a couple of days.  Paybacks are. . . not fun.  But at least positively all the shearing and critter haircuts are done for the year!

. . . Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Neffie is short for “Queen Nephele”.  If you’re not up on your Greek mythology, she was shepherdess for the ram with the Golden Fleece.  It just seemed to fit.

Flooded Creek

March 27, 2009

Rain Gauge

There seems to be a lot of rain falling all over the country.  We’ve had a bunch here lately, but at least we don’t have to worry about the record level flooding of the Red River like the folks in Fargo, North Dakota, and on into the Manitoba, Canada, area do.

Nevertheless, we still got a lot of rain a little too fast, and by yesterday morning the creek that runs along one side of our property was flooded. 

It backs up a lot when it gets to the culvert/bridge just down the road from us.  There’s just too much water and not enough space for it to run through!  The culvert also gets clogged with debris, and that constricts the water flow even more, and it has to go somewhere.

Flooded creek and pond.

The Farmer decided to check out the flood waters before he left for work and walked down as close as he could get to the bridge, then headed back.

Flood waters over the bridge.

Thankfully, since the bridge is past our driveway, we don’t have to worry about flood waters over the road when we want to drive somewhere.

However, The Farmer was worried about the flood waters getting into his pond.  When it was built, they made a high bank on the side closest to the road, hoping to prevent that.  So far it had worked, but he decided to check it out.

The Farmer looking at the flood waters near the pond.

It almost worked this time, but in a couple of spots there were trickles of water flowing into the pond.

Water flowing into pond.

There wasn’t enough water to worry about, but we’ll just have to see what happens next time we get a lot of heavy rains.

When the creek floods, the water also backs up into our bottom pasture and flows through the adjacent woods.

Flooded field.

As you can see, the water runs over the fence line, which is why we have an electric fence there.  It’s easier to fix when the fast waters tear the wire away from the posts, or the debris just flat out breaks the wires.

The ground was so saturated with water, the earthworms were bailing out everywhere.  The grass was polluted with them, and I could barely walk down the driveway without stepping on one.

Earthworms on driveway.

The guineas chose to stay high in the treetops, even though it rained on them all night. 

Guineas in treetops.

Of course, I wouldn’t accuse guineas of having an excess of intelligence.  They obviously don’t even know enough to come in out of the rain!

All this wet weather makes our Maremma LGD (livestock guardian dog) look pretty ragged since she’s all white.

Muddy Maremma/

She probably looks like a lot of folks in dangerously flooded areas feel – a little rough around the edges.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’re done with the rainy weather, so time to hunker down and wait it out!  I’m just thankful we got the basement water-proofed a couple of years ago, so I no longer have to spend hours and hours with a shop vac trying to drain the rising pool of water in the basement!

I guess there’s a silver lining in every cloud after all.

Maremma Dogs For Sale

February 5, 2002

A Maremma Livestock Guardian Dog is a great help with sheep.  They stand duty 24/7, staying with their flock and watching over them.  They will also guard goats or other animals.  They bond closest to whatever animals they were kept with as pups, but that doesn’t mean they won’t look after other animals as well.

They are not as common as Great Pyrenees dogs, so are a little hard to find.  You may have to travel to obtain one.

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