Wrangling the leaping llamaPosted: 2012/07/29
Last night Amy returned from Beaver Utah, after she and her friend spent an entire day shearing llamas. It sounds like it was more of a project than anyone dreamed, as the poor animals had not been sheared in four years. She came home with an alarmed boy in the back of the van. I can’t call it payment for her work, as we both suspect that this animal is a bit of a problem child, and it appears the fellow had his hands full. All the same, Amy is hoping that the llama will mature into being an effective flock guardian for our sheep.
Milton (the llama) was clearly disoriented, and while he was in the pasture first thing this morning, his absence an hour later was obvious. GASP! The popovers would have to wait. After a while of walking about in the deserted developments and arroyos that surround the farm, we split up in the cars, binoculars in hand. I found him a few miles up the road: hot and alarmed, and clearly not wanting to be caught, hiding in some bushes just off the road. I walked along side him for a bit under a mile–sometimes jogging, but trying to calm him and keep close–ten feet or so. I got close to snagging him more than once, but with each attempt Milton trusted me less, and tried to put more distance between us. I encouraged him in the direction of the farm until he decided to do a 180 on me. A National Park ranger who happened by graciously blocked the road from oncoming traffic while I ran Milton off the side of the road–and there was my chance. There was a fence that formed a corner that I gently drove him toward. I managed to walk him into the corner–and he got ready to make his break. As he bolted past me to escape, I held the crook out and caught his neck. . .and held on for dear life as he kicked me and ran forward: the crook attached to his neck, and me holding the crook as if my life depended on it, being momentarily dragged over a thicket. I caught my balance, and got a hold of his halter. Then began the battle of the wills. He stood, spread eagle, determined not to move, and I tried, for twenty minutes to get him to budge before he finally yielded. When I realized he was afraid of the barbed wire, I walked him half a mile in the wrong direction to avoid the fence, and get him back on the road. There began the laborious, strenuous journey home–mostly consisting of me dragging Milton in one degree or another.
I found him a little before 10:00, and it was 11:47 before I had him home. Exhausting to say the least. So, our breakfast was cold popovers, and I am still suffering from a lack of caffeine. At least I got a work out. Amy is still shocked that I caught him single handed. I’d like to think that we have learned a thing or two about handling animals–even ones that don’t want to be caught. Amy came home a few minutes later–she had found his footprints in the mud, but lost the trail half a mile from home.
Milton is getting settled in, and I will be off to buy horse panels in the morning. If anyone tells you that llamas can’t jump fences, you have my permission to tell them otherwise. Llamas can jump. Amy witnessed his most recent journey from the ersatz Llama pen into the goat pen. And the stuborn boy would not move back until I came to get him: I guess we “bonded” during our drag. We are relieved to say the least. Milt is safely in the barn, fed, watered, and being misted, and the sky has opened up with a cooling rain.