Friday, October 29, 2010

So how many injuries does it take?

The boys have been here for almost a week and are settling in brilliantly! They are not even bothered by the constant handling of their fleece and hearing "ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh you're soooooooo soft!" then a squeal of sheer delight! I think with so many of them they take turns deciding who'll be next, but they really are good sports about it. My mother told me last night that I never blogged about the "experience" of getting them here. Oh yeah, right I forgot to do that... it's a story I thinkg you'll find.... well interesting at least. Here it goes.

Last Saturday we had a 'get together' at my parents home and it usually involves too much food and too much fun, but like my father-in-law says, "too much is just right!" You know the kind of gathering that involves food, family, fun, cousins, crazy aunt Twistie, etc, well that makes for an all day event type thing (especially when you have to work around two families farm chores, milking schedules and 4-H meetings), but I was also supposed to pick up the alpacas...

The afternoon was winding down and it was getting late in the afternoon, as you know the sun is setting earlier and earlier... Well, I decided it was time to go get them and head home. My dad was graciously allowed me to use his truck (which has a cap) to transport my farm animals. I really need a trailer... I've got a tonneau cover for the bed of my truck, but that wouldn't work, hog panels, tarps and ratchet straps, mmmm nope! Not a chance! I got ready to go and asked who was going to tag along on this adventure, my sister who's always ready for a gathering of people and/or party jumped at the chance - mind you this is the sister that IS NOT a farmer or animal person really unless it's a petting zoo... My other sister had gone home or I think she'd have come if just to laugh at the whole crazy situation; my dad scoffed, hmm, maybe he had an idea as to the calamity this would become.... So I asked mom, saying to her well you went with me when I was getting Strawberry bred, and helped me wrangle the pigs back onto the truck at the fair, so you have to come! What do you know, she did! She changed her shoes, flip flops are not proper farm footwear, are they mom? and got in the truck. He he he! Off we went. Ok so I had Jen, my sister, call for directions, I felt like I could get back there no problem, but cell reception is sporadic at best out there and did I mention it was getting dark? I'd only been there one other time and came in from an entirely different direction, I was not interested in being lost.

So we arrive at the house and the owners are out in the pasture with the alpacas, mom drives the truck over to where the gates opens and the boys (alpacas) are... shall we say ....energetically bouncing around the pasture, they smelled a rat! It was most likely me and the multi species oders from my farm off my barn shoes, I don't think our farm smells bad at all, but occasionally I've gotten a whiff of my barn shoes and whew! but I digress. Seeing as one owner has seriously messed up her back to the point of needing surgery she would not be able to wrangle any of the freaked out boys. Her husband, my sister, mother, children, and children of the guests they had were all in the pasture, just past dusk trying to catch the alpacas. Now would be a good time to mention that they live WAY out off the beaten path and there are NO streetlights or many lights at all really. The pasture area was, well, large enough for all 5 alpacas so it was not easy convincing them to stand still and let us strange people walk up to them and put a halter on and be led out, they just were not comfortable with that. So we made a wall of people and cornered them, all together and eased the pressure off them and they settled down a bit. We went in for one of them and managed to get one, but the others scattered, so we had to repeat the process several times.

We get one caught and haltered and start to lead him out to the where the woman owner was so we could do shots before bringing them here. I was helping, or at lest making an attempt at it and the plunger wouldn't depress, so I asked her to check it out for me. Well she took the syringe and pulled it back slightly and redirected it, right into the tip of my finger! It was totally an accident and all it really did was scratch my finger as I jerked it away. It bled a little but I've been vaccinated and wormed now! LOL! So we start loading them up, one at a time, alpacas are herd animals and they were being loaded into the back of a strange vehicle by strange people in the dark alone, they were a little freaked out. I expected that no matter how we did it that would be the case to some degree.

If you're keeping a tally as to the injuries, sharpen your pencil! So far it's just the current owner's back and my finger, but as we load one on the truck it's leg slips and kicks my mother in the leg, leaving an oblong plum shaped (and colored) bruise on her thigh. The husband was hit in the 'family jewels' area and doubled over in pain and in doing so wrenched his back. I found out later that it cost him a trip to the ER because of the pain. While in the pasture chasing another one down my mother's foot got stepped on, (I'm betting she's glad that she didn't have her flip flops on and was likely thinking "And I'm doing this, again, why???" I was able to get one against the fence and once they are caught they stopped fighting, but the others had just run by us and he thought he'd give it a go to be with his herdmates and I'd just stepped on a rock or in a divot or something and turned my ankle a bit so I let him go to prevent further injuries. My foot was also stepped on at some point, but was wearing boots, so it didn't' really even hurt, but a tally mark is a tally mark, right? Andrew managed to get kicked in the thigh somewhere along the way. I don't know how many of you know this, but alpacas and llamas do not have hooves, they have a soft pad and two toenails on their feet. It's not a hoof like a goat or horse, so it you get stepped on or kicked it's not say, pleasant, but it's not as painful as say a horse. I remember walking back into the pasture to halter another on and seeing my sister who I mentioned is NOT an animal person with her arms around an alpaca saying "I'm not the weakest link, I am not the weakest link!" I guess she'd let a few slip through her hands and was determined not to let it happen again! Hey, I'll give her an A for effort!

Ok, so we're getting them loaded and it's getting a tad crowded in the truck and as I'm in there with them unhaltering and handing out halters and leads and holding them back I got knocked around a bit, again it's nothing bad, just stressed animals. BUT on a good note, after we got a couple in there the rest were more willing to hop in to be with their buddies. Ahhh! They are finally all loaded and the tailgate is up and the cap is shut, latch is secured, or so we think.

So we get them all loaded and head back over to the house to warm up and chat for just a few minutes. Did I mention it was dark and cold that night? So we thaw inside, and decide that it's time to start home, head back out, this time I'm to drive my dads truck, after all it is my livestock now, I took a peek at the back of the truck and it looks a bit odd, I step closer and see one alpaca standing up. The others have relaxed and laid down, yea, I thought. I get closer and peek in and there is only one alpaca! The other four somehow manages to not only unlatch the gate but hop out of the truck and are now roaming around the neighborhood! Yup, dad must have known something like that would happen and that's why he stayed home...

Fortunately one of the boys is all white and one has a white face or we'd never have found them that night and fortunately the guest who was visiting had a HUGE Great Dane dog and these alpacas love big dogs and went right to him, she walked him into the pasture and they all followed! So I backed the truck over to the gate, again and we reload all the boys, only this time there was no stop at the gate for shots and the full moon was out which lit up the pasture better than before. This time they all loaded much faster. One was so eager to get back into the truck he literally leaped in so fast he bumped his head on the roof and ricocheted into my head which smacked the side of the truck, as I had no time to react or guard against it. Ouch! Needless to say we were extra diligent about the latch and tied it down, I did not need to be heading down the highway with alpacas leaping out of the back of my truck!

Finally we arrive home to the farm and mind you it's nearly 11 pm! I'm blessed (and I mean that honestly) with a barn that has lights, lots of lights! I was able to back the truck right up to the front of the barn and stood just to the side of the tailgate so they couldn't pull a Houdini and escape! We opened the back of the truck and let them listen, look, smell, hear and talk for a little while. Our llama Dakota was in the stall closest to the action and was very interested in all the goings on. His ears pricked forward and he started talking to them right away. Garlic, thought it was time to be fed again so he started stomping and nickering to me, the chickens who heard but could not see all the commotion started clucking and squawking and the goats woke up, yawned, stretched and jumped up on the door to see what was going on. After a bit of coaxing the boy that was last in and therefore closest to me was the first out. It just so happens he's also the one with neurological issues and when he jumped out he landed wrong and slipped in the isle and landed with a "kathud!" Realizing they could now get out the others started springing out of the back of the truck like fleas off a dog! One landed on top of the alpaca on the floor who was in the process of getting up and shook himself off like a person coming out of hypnosis, wondering what the heck just happened! It all happened in the matter of just a few seconds, but when I could I went over to him to see if he was ok and it seemed he was, but how can I tell really, he's got neurological issues.... I'm not sure what the tally for injuries is, but I know it was a lot and I'm so thankful they were not serious.

After we got them all settled in, grained, hayed, watered and placed the handful of poop where I wanted them to go to the bathroom, yes, I really had to do that. It works too, it's a communal dung pile and makes for some pretty easy clean up! We left them alone for the night and headed into the house to tell Ron all about it and the crazy time we'd had that evening. He did like he usually does, listened, smiled and shook his head. Thinking all the while I'm as crazy as a loon and he's glad he's the banker. Computers don't kick or spit!


  1. Knowing many of the players in this little scenario made for some serious laughter here. "I am NOT the weakness link!" LOVE IT! ;-)

  2. Now that is what I call a fun time. Wish I'd been there.

  3. I laughed at this post! It was well written and I could picture all the mayham that took place, sounds typical, and wish I could have been there, but you now farm chores come first. Gotta milk that cow, and feed the animals!!

  4. We did have a good time!!!!!!!!!! Wounds are healing nicely,,,,,,,,mental note to self, (or any other future "Helpers of Twistie" ).......when going ANYWHERE with Twistie<.... ALWAYS carry BIG bandages, and lots of flash lights/head lamps...., and, be sure you have at least sneakers on!.....yup, gonna be a great day Tater!

  5. Wow what an adventure! I love your sister out there crying "I'm not the weakest link!" just classic! Glad everyone came out of it ok!

  6. I love the 'like fleas off a dog' metaphor. Our sheep are the same leaving a trailer.

    It's also heartening to know that it's not just me who is unprepared and just wings it, OR that I'm not the only one who's had an accidental dose of vaccine, OR had to round up loose animals in the dark, OR shrugs off smelly shoes and clothes as no big deal. Your post has made me feel normal (or at least not alone!)

    I no nothing about alpacas (are they livestock guardians for you or fleece producers?) so I'm looking forward to learning more about them from your posts. I now know about their toileting habits, which is a great factoid.

  7. WOW! One family over, ~the nest that never fails to amaze!~ Now I wished I had had a video of THAT!
    Alpaca rodeo!


So what's the view from your world about that? I'd enjoy hearing it.