Monday, February 28, 2011

They are . . . outta here!

The Montana rescue llamas that spent a month here at Wier World have all gone on to new homes.

During the month they were here a lot of "stuff" happened:
1. It was the worst winter in the St. Louis area for decades. We normally get 11 inches of snow in a winter. We're at 30-plus inches of snow and not done yet.
2. Of the 23 llamas scheduled to come here -- one died on the trip from Montana, and one died before she could ever see her new home. One of the Montana girls had a stillborn cria. A tiny little female baby that never had a chance at all.
3. The llamas ate more than any llamas I've ever seen. For the first few weeks there was never "leftover" hay in the feeders when I'd come to the barn to feed again. It was down to the crumbs/sift. At day 19 or so -- I was shocked to come into the barn to see some hay left! They were FULL!
4. They were very defeated when they arrived. There was a sense of hopelessness in their walk, in their demeanor, in their eyes. By the time they left it was darn hard to catch them, even harder to "contain" them -- and forget that walking on lead thing. It just wasn't happening.
5. The reaction of people in and around the llama and alpaca communities was a study in opposites. I got praise and damnation. I was "doing something wonderful" and "what were you thinking?" I got lots of "you should do this" or "you should do that." "Geesh. I've owned llamas for nearly 30 years," I would mutter under my breath after these encounters.
6. Some how -- for some unknown reason -- some people within the industry thought I was getting something for doing this. "Yeah, right. This is my plan for getting rich. I'll take in rescue llamas -- feed and house them and care for them and worry over them -- in the worst winter weather ever. I'll "bury the dead" in the ice and snow -- and then I'll find new homes for them and they will leave -- because I'm going to get rich this way. Yeah. That's my plan." What? Who believes that?
7. Rescue is the most difficult thing I've ever done. No one pays you to do it. In fact, there's not enough money in the world to do it. It has to be done for other reasons.

Because you're crazy about llamas.
Because "what goes around comes around."
Because you like to be challenged.
Because you can't stand around and do nothing.
Because you listen to what the llamas are telling you -- and you "get it."
And even because you're a glutton for punishment.

The one thing I know for sure -- you're never a prophet in your own land.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My opinion, my experience

What exactly is a blog? I can't answer that in general, but THIS blog is filled with my experiences and my opinions. That's why it's MY blog.

Things that have happened on the farm - and continue to happen -- will be reported honestly and truthfully. No "sugar coating" please.

I will talk about what I observe -- based on nearly 30 years of owning llamas and alpacas. The things I've noticed, done and enjoyed -- and the "ugly" part of it too.

If you can't stand the heat -- don't read the blog.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Montana llamas head to forever homes

They're starting to trickle out in dribs and drabs. The 22 Montana Large Animal Sanctuary Rescue llamas that arrived at my farm are ready to head to their new homes.
They began as a sad, raggedy crew of llamas -- a SILENT, sad, raggedy crew. They didn't protest being unloaded in IL when they started out in Montana. They didn't resist when they were herded into their new pasture area. They didn't turn up their noses at any hay or grain that was offered. No complaints about their new environment.
But gosh, did they eat. And eat. And eat some more.
It's been a month now -- and have they ever changed. Not just the physical changes that are so obvious -- the weight gain -- the spring in their steps -- the interest in what I'm doing each day -- the reaction to being touched/caught. They are so much more like regular llamas. And yet, not. They are "wild," unhandled llamas. Frightened llamas.
Yesterday a milestone was reached. I came into their area and the 33 gallon trash can with the bungeed lid was knocked over -- and ALL the grain was gone. Apparently it was eaten by the Montana llamas that remain. Yep. That's what MY llamas would have done with a container filled with grain right smack in the corner of their living quarters. For the past month they have largely ignored that ready source of protein.
Loading untrained llamas is not for sissies. Most had to be coaxed, pushed and cajoled into the trailers. One resisted by jumping a fence and taking my son, Ben, for a rodeo ride in the barn -- then whacking him into the metal water tank. Ouch!
Eleven llamas were scheduled to head to MO -- to 4 different homes. One never made the trip to her own home, as our Sara Beth passed away before she could meet her new family.
The rest went on to new owners. Then the second wave left. Six headed to northern IL -- four near Champaign -- and two more farther north. Lives ahead as guardians for alpacas and sheep. Lives of luxury with full hay bunkers and grain.
This weekend the last 5 will go to PA. They will find new families and new lives.
It's been tough helping them on their journey. The joy comes in seeing them go on to new lives. My part is just a blink of the eye.
The photos show the animals being loaded for their trips, and there are some of their new owners. Congratulations to all.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Winter's wonders

I'm personally wondering what the heck went crazy this winter? We normally (in the Lou) have around a dozen inches of snow. Hmmmmm? We're at around 30 inches -- and still piling on.
With the addition of the Montana llamas -- and extra mouths to feed -- it has been especially difficult to drag hay bales through the snow -- keep water from freezing in their tank -- and feed grain and supplements.
My own herd is tucked in snug in the big barn - with automatic waterers, hay next to the feeders and grain a step away. Alas, the quarantine necessary with the Montana rescue herd has established them in the far nether reaches of my shelters.
Yesterday I slipped and fell in the snow in front of the big barn. Instant, frozen-on-contact tears streamed down my face -- and gathered the small bits of hay dust that were attached there. Nothing broken but my pride.
I put coats on two in my own herd yesterday. Christie Black, a rather unpleasant girl with brilliant copper eyes, gave me quite a kick -- as she hated the coat. Big bruise, bit of swelling and a screech from me. Sheesh. You're welcome, Christie.
It is tough, tough. Llama and alpaca wrangling isn't for sissies at this time of the year.
Adding some photos -- one of my barn cat, Angel, and her cohorts, the three chickens, basking in the sunlight from the barn window. My son, Ben, hauling hay to the Montana herd. The gang lined up at the trough eating grain. And my truck. Wow. Winter of 2011 can end any time now.