Posts Tagged ‘llama’
Passing the kitchen window yesterday afternoon, I caught a glimpse of two llamas standing at attention peering over the fence line. They looked particularly alert, so I started scanning the field for a bear, not unusual for this time of year. I didn’t see a thing, but I thought Pete, the black llama, and the smallest in our herd, looked really cute standing all tall and proud, so I grabbed the camera for some happy snaps.
I never saw what they were looking at until I downloaded the photos. To my surprise, there was a small animal in the adjacent field. Unfortunately, I’m looking down from about 200 yards, and my lens isn’t strong enough to get a good resolution on the critter.
My first thought was that it was a grey fox. We do have foxes around, and we have seen them crossing the fields near the llamas before. But the shape of the animal is wrong for a fox. A fox would have a straight topline from head to tail, and this animal has a humpy rear.
And a bushy tail—wrong for a ground hog or a possum. So my best guess is a raccoon. But it seems odd that a raccoon would be crossing an open field in the middle of the afternoon. I thought they were more nocturnal.
Any guesses out there?
Posted in Around the Farm, Llama Stories, Photography, tagged animal, animals, country life, farm, farm life, hiking, humor, llama, nature, Photography, Shenandoah Valley, snapping turtle, turtle on May 14, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Where did that rock come from? It wasn’t there when I mowed the barnyard three days ago.
Coming down the loft stairs with an armload of hay for the llamas, I walked over to check out the new bump in the grass. Yikes! A female snapping turtle had dug a nest and was laying eggs. I wasn’t successful in getting a photo of the blacksnake under the steps last week, but I was able to get back to the house for my camera before this ugly beast lumbered off.
With our farm nestled between two creeks, we are accustomed to seeing these repugnant reptiles on a frequent basis. They’ve taken up residence in our pond, and occasionally we’re lucky enough to witness a pair doing the turtle tango.
The snappers around here are known as the Common Snapping Turtle, as opposed to the Alligator Snapping Turtle found further south. They rarely come on dry land, spending all their time in the water. If you see a turtle walking about, it most likely is a female looking for a place to lay her eggs. They generally lay from 10 to 50 eggs which will hatch in 3 to 4 months. The female will dig a hole with her back legs, deposit the ping pong size eggs, then cover them back up with dirt and smooth it over with her tail.
Not only are they ugly, but they are mean. That neck can dart out in an instant and stretches to nearly the length of their body. I always hate to see them in the pasture, because I’m afraid that a curious llama might bend down to sniff a snapper and get his nose bit. Once I used a shovel and a wheel barrow to load a turtle and wheel her 100 yards to the creek, but today I decided to just let her be and keep the llamas in their paddock for the day.
Last year about this time, we encountered a large snapper while on one of our llama treks. We were hiking a trail along the Shenandoah River, and came upon this turtle laying smack in the middle of the trail. The first five llamas and their handlers passed her to her rear side, but with each passing llama, she got more and more agitated, and when the fifth llama walked by, the turtle spun around and thrust out that neck and hissed. Jesse, the sixth and last llama in the string, was not going anywhere near that turtle, so I called up to Tim to come get it out of the path.
He found a 4 foot long stick and starting nudging at the turtle to encourage it to move out of the way. This really ticked the turtle off and she started biting at the stick. The stick kept getting shorter and shorter, till it was only about a foot long. Finally she moved enough that we could scurry past.
I’m told that the force of their bite is greatly exaggerated. Apparently they can’t snap off fingers and toes, and they will let go before it thunders, but I, personally, am not taking any chances. They haven’t survived for 40 million years by being shrinking violets.
Posted in Around the Farm, Goldendoodles, Our Dogs, Photography, tagged animal, animals, country life, dog, dogs, Doodle, farm, farm life, goldendoodle, humor, llama, nature, pet, Photography, puppy, Shenandoah Valley on May 10, 2012 | 4 Comments »
At the barn this morning feeding the llamas, I climbed down the loft steps with an armload of hay and spied 6 inches of shiny black tail sticking out from under the bottom step. Peeking under the steps, I saw the owner of said tail, another 4 feet of glossy, scaly black snake. I don’t have a fear of black snakes; rather they are good to have around for the most part. They do steal bird eggs from the nests of eager avian parents, but they also catch mice, moles, and voles that cause a lot of damage around the house and barn.
It’s unusual to see a still black snake. Usually, I’m startled by them as they are darting in their slithery “S” fashion trying to get away from me. But this snake was completely motionless. My first thought was that it had been mauled by the barn cat, but closer inspection showed he had no external injuries. He was laying stretched out to his full length, with his head elevated a couple of inches off the ground. I guess the early morning coolness had slowed down his metabolism. I just left him be as I continued my chores.
Returning to the steps to close up the loft, I looked for the snake, but he was gone. I scanned around the foundation of the barn, and in the surrounding grass, but he was not to be seen. Too bad, I was hoping to go back to the house and get the camera to get a shot of him. I climbed the 10 steps to the loft, my mind chewing on the missed opportunity to get a close up photo of the snake, when I put my foot on the top step and saw 6 inches of shiny black tail dangling out the door.
That startled me. I had no idea he could negotiate those open steps, but here he was stretched out on the floor of the loft and hanging out the door. Now, I’m not averse to non poisonous snakes, but not to the point that I’m going to pick that thing up by the tail and fling it out of the barn just so I can close the door.
So, what the heck, the door can stay open for the day. And I still have the opportunity to get a photo. But not to be. Upon returning with the camera, the snake was not to be found. I’ll have to be on my guard whenever I move a bale of hay, just in case he’s decided to bunk with the cat.
On to the Puppy Dog Tails. Bayley got spayed 2 days ago and to keep her from licking at her stitches, we fashioned a shirt for her.
This is a tank top of mine that is on her upside down. Her tail is through the neck hole, and her back legs are through the arms holes. Then we tied a knot at the waist to cinch it up.
So far it’s doing the trick. But how in heaven’s name do you keep a rambunctious puppy quiet for a week. Without her being able to do her crazy dog dash around the property twice a day, she’s taking out her pent up energy by: chewing holes in the bedspread, ripping the edges of our hand loomed woven llama rug, gutting all of her stuffed toys, fraying her leash, gnawing on chair legs, nipping our ears in bed…. Yikes! Will she survive the week?
And as for the snail part, I haven’t actually seen any, but I did see a turtle. Does that count?
Posted in Around the Farm, Bearded Collie Dogs, Goldendoodles, Our Dogs, Photography, tagged animal, animals, bearded collie, country life, dog, dogs, Doodle, farm life, farm scene, goldendoodle, humor, llama, llama care, pet, Photography, puppy, Shenandoah Valley on May 2, 2012 | 6 Comments »
What can be more tedious than the parent or grandparent that constantly boasts about the achievements and genius of their progeny? Perhaps someone that talks incessantly about the brilliance and accomplishments of their dog. However, I DO have the cutest and most intelligent puppy on earth, so I am completely vindicated.
Bayley turns 6 months old today. I won’t go into all of her amazing accomplishments here. Just suffice it to say, that after completing basic Puppy obedience Levels 1 and 2, her instructor exempted her from Adult Level 1 and promoted her directly to Adult Level 2. Bayley is always selected to be the demo dog when the teacher wants to demonstrate a behavior.
At 6 months, she’s entering puppy adolescence, the equivalent of the human teen years. I’ve been warned that she may start to get hard headed: not coming when called, not doing what she is told. She may not want to be seen walking next to us and will probably start playing virtual Frisbee on the Xbox.
She’s already changed the spelling of her name. We thought we had chosen a rather unique name for her and originally spelled it Baylie. It must be the season for the name regardless of the spelling: Bailey, Bailie, Bailee, Balie, Bayleigh…. There are several dogs we have met with that name. In fact, a male lab puppy in her obedience class was named Bailey. She wanted to be distinctive, so she decided to spell her name Bayley. So typical of young girls at that age.
It’s amazing what dogs learn from one another, both good and bad. Bayley has a 7 year old Bearded Collie sister who is remarkably calm and well behaved.
Bayley thinks that Mayzie hung the moon. From her, Bayley has learned much more about what is expected of a good dog in this household than I could have ever taught her. On the other hand, Mayzie has also taught Bayley that the vacuum cleaner is a fearsome fire breathing dragon, and to hide in a corner whenever it starts to roar.
In the four months that Bayley has lived with us, our daily barn ritual is a constant. Twice a day, I walk down the road with both dogs to the barn to take care of the llamas.
Mayzie will come inside the pasture fence and lie down by the gate and wait for me to do my chores. Bayley, my little shadow, will follow me around as I put out the hay, fill water buckets, and rake up poop, which takes me about a half hour. All the while, Mayzie waits patiently by the gate.
Last week, after obedience class, I returned home with Bayley in the car at llama feeding time. We drove straight down to the barn, leaving Mayzie in the house. Bayley initially didn’t want to get out of the car because Mayzie wasn’t along, and this is a team effort. I left the car door open and went about my work. A few minutes later I looked around to see if Bayley had gotten out of the car. Scanning around, I spied her lying by the gate right in Mayzie’s spot. I imagine she was thinking that guarding that gate was an important job, and since Mayzie wasn’t there to do it, she would have to step up to the task. Oh, to spend a day in my dog’s head.
After writing my post entitled “Hair Apparent” a couple of weeks back, I decided to embrace my passion for long haired animals. I will always have hair blowing around my house, clinging to my clothes, and hiding in my food, so I ordered up a personalized license plate to proudly display my affliction to the world. It arrived yesterday and I just love it.
Posted in Around the Farm, Goldendoodles, Llama Stories, Our Dogs, Photography, tagged animal, animals, country life, dog, dogs, Doodle, farm, farm life, goldendoodle, humor, llama, llama care, pet, Photography, puppy, shearing, Shenandoah Valley on April 16, 2012 | 105 Comments »
We got the llamas sheared, finally. It is always a daunting task cause it’s dirty and tiring work. It takes up about 1 ½ hours per llama to blow, brush and style and we have 8 llamas. It has been a strange spring. Early March we had 80 degree days, so we scheduled our first shearing day for the first weekend in April. That week the temps plummeted to below freezing at night, and we were afraid some of the lighter coated boys would get chilly. So we did four of the heavy wool guys first, and yesterday, finished up with the other four. Here are a couple of before and after shots of the llamas.
I think they look pretty good, if I do say so myself.
We counted up the years, and were astounded that we have now sheared the llamas for the 10th year. Hard to believe how the years zoom by. The llamas get an annual body cut to cool them down in the summer. I cut them with Fiskers spring loaded scissors. I’ve never used an electric clipper as I don’t like the close cut and the furrowed look. The scissors take longer, but give me more control and finesse.
You’d think that with all the hours I have under my belt shearing llamas, I would have more confidence to jump in and start shearing my new goldendoodle puppy, Bayley. Bayley has just turned 5 months. I’m not sure when to start the clipping. So far, she is brushing out with no mats, and her hair is about 3 inches. I’m thinking I’ll wait until she becomes too difficult to brush and just let it grow in the meantime. It’s gotten cooler here in the last couple of weeks, back to more normal temps in the 50s and 60s. If she looks like she’s too hot, I’ll have to jump on in.
I’d like to do the clipping myself, rather than risk being totally dissatisfied with what the groomer may do. But I know nothing of electric shears, and I’m planning to do her with scissors. I just start to hyperventilate whenever I think about putting scissors to her hair. But, I’ve always heard that the difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is about 2 weeks.
Posted in Around the Farm, Goldendoodles, Our Dogs, tagged animal, animals, bearded collie, beardie, dog, dogs, Doodle, goldendoodle, humor, llama, pet, Photography, puppy, Shenandoah Valley on April 9, 2012 | 4 Comments »
Bayley, our 5 month old Goldendoodle, has overheard us discussing the fact that she is going to be much larger than her 50 pound parents, and has gotten the mistaken idea that we won’t love her as much if she gets too big. I caught her on the computer last night writing this song:
Posted in Around the Farm, Bearded Collie Dogs, Our Dogs, Photography, tagged animal, animals, bearded collie, beardie, dog, dogs, humor, llama, pet, Photography, puppy, Shenandoah Valley on April 2, 2012 | 6 Comments »
Anyone who knows us, knows it is apparent that we prefer animals with a lot of hair. We have Bearded Collie dogs with 12 inch long hair and we have llamas with loads of wooly fur. Our recently departed cat was a main coon cross, and had at least 4 inch long hair. She deposited hair on every horizontal surface in the house. As I’m thinking about it, there was cat hair on most vertical surfaces as well. Tim even succumbed to the pressure and decided to grow a beard several years ago. We burn out vacuum cleaners on an annual basis.
The odd thing is this. With all this hair blowing around, it is inevitable that occasionally a hair will appear in our food. We joke that dog hair is a condiment in our house. And when I find a hair on my plate, I will pull it out of the food and identify it. “Oh, that’s Mayzie’s hair” or “that must be a llama hair”, and I think nothing of it and continue my meal. But if I see a human hair, even if I’m positive that it is my own, I suddenly lose my appetite and dinner is a done deal. Go figure.