Posts Tagged ‘llama’

There is no better way to herald in the Christmas Season than to go to the local Christmas Parade. Oh, except for, maybe, walking in the parade.

I love a small town parade. We have talked for years about walking in our town’s parade, but with our weekends being occupied with our llama trekking business, we were never available. But this year we made the time and we did it. What a great time.

Parade Lineup

Parade Lineup

We gathered up 6 friends to walk 6 of our llamas. We hung sleigh bells around their necks and put antlers on their heads. (The llamas , that is).

Reindeer antlers

Reindeer antlers

The crowd loved seeing the llamas, especially the kids. They would bunch up right in the middle of the street to pet the llamas. Our llama, Silver, seemed to be the most approachable target.

Hi Ho Silver

Hi Ho Silver

Even the adults were Ga Ga.

At one point, our littlest llama, Pete, was mobbed by the children for a couple of minutes, holding up the parade behind him.

Pete Greets

Pete Greets

Of course the rest of the herd disappeared down the street. When Pete tired of the adulation and realized he had been left behind, he dashed down the street to catch up, dragging his handler behind.

The crowd loved seeing the llamas, but it was evident that many didn’t know what the heck they were. We heard several “Look, it’s camels”; and from one sweet child, “it’s fuzzy reindeer”. Of course there was a lot of the usual mistaken identity, “Look, they’re alcapas.”

But oddly enough, these wooly, four legged mammals, are sometimes mistaken for emu; even by the nurses’ assistant that stopped by to enquire at the end of the parade route.

But the most important member of the group was the elf that brought up the rear.

Pooper Scooper Elf

Pooper Scooper Elf

Luckily I didn’t need to scoop any poop along the way, but I did hear my share of sideline remarks, to include, “She’s sure got a shi**y job”.

But back at the trailer, a job well done, Pete said, “Thank goodness that’s over, can I go home now”.

Home again, Home again, Please?

Home again, Home again, Please?

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Autumn Days
by Will Carleton

William McKendree Carleton (21 October 1845 – 18 December 1912) was an American poet born in Michigan. Most of his poems were about rural life. I recently found this poignant poem and thought I’d share it since it is expresses the season so beautifully.

Yellow, mellow, ripened days,
Sheltered in a golden coating;
O’er the dreamy, listless haze,
White and dainty cloudlets floating;
Winking at the blushing trees,
And the sombre, furrowed fallow;
Smiling at the airy ease
Of the southward-flying swallow.
Sweet and smiling are thy ways,
Beauteous, golden, Autumn days!

Shivering, quivering, tearful days,
Fretfully and sadly weeping;
Dreading still, with anxious gaze,
Icy fetters round thee creeping;
O’er the cheerless, withered plain,
Woefully and hoarsely calling;
Pelting hail and drenching rain
On thy scanty vestments falling.
Sad and mournful are thy ways,
Grieving, wailing, Autumn days!

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Llamas at Attention

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?

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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.

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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.

No photo of the snake, but here’s what the steps look like

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?

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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.

Bayley's Brain

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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.

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