We don’t encourage coupling among animals on our farm. It’s not entirely out of the question, but for now it would require we know a lot more than we do about supporting mothers and babies. Much easier to keep it all G-rated.
The chickens are a notable exception. But the hens seem to look at the roosters’ semi-romantic forées (mostly semi) with reasonably good humor and tolerance.
I think the rest of the crew appreciates the absence of sexual tension. It creates an atmosphere of platonic playfulness and no drama.
Well I recently blew that.
A friend of mine learned of a family near our farm who was very concerned about finding a home for their llama. They were moving far away and couldn’t take the llama with them. Naturally, my friend thought of us since we already had a female llama, and briefly had second who died as a result of a surprise childbirth. (See an earlier post called “Unexpected” for the sad story.)
When I got the call, my first thought was, Awww! A companion for Miss Lady. “Sure. I’ll give her a call and learn some more about this llama. I hope it’s a female!”
A day or two later, I called the owner. She was thrilled to think we might take her llama, of course. She’d heard we were a family of animal lovers who already had a llama. She was so enthusiastic and hopeful on the phone that I began to realize how hard it would be to refuse to relieve her of her worry.
Bad news: the llama was a male.
But the good news, he was old. Twenty. And fixed. Why was this a good thing? I have no idea. Maybe he’d have mellowed. It just seemed to me he would be more….fatherly, perhaps?
In any case, I agreed to go and take a look. Like I knew what I was looking at. Not really.
So over I went.
And sure enough, it was a llama.
He looked reasonably normal. Same color as Miss Lady, actually. A bay, with black head and legs, and a dark brown wooly body. When we pulled the car up to the pasture, he actually approached the car. Cool. Some social confidence.
Not sure what else to look for. Someone has to take this animal. May as well be us. Done.
Two days later, they lovingly delivered Ali Baba to our little farm. Ali Baba. I had to chuckle. Kind of goofy, kind of exotic. Rolls off the tongue. It’ll work.
The dog? Mildly interested. The cats? Indifferent. The goats? Perfectly contented.
The llama? Mortified.
What the Hell! she seemed to be saying. Seriously. What the Hell is this?
She bolted to the other end of the pasture. He casually followed her, and she tore off again. She was clearly intent on keeping the maximum distance between her and our newest guest.
I started to see what she saw.
With the two in the same pasture, the differences between the two were now clear.
Miss Lady is a beautifully proportioned animal with a full, even coat of wool, long and curly on her beautiful legs.
Ali Baba was taller and ganglier with knock knees, fallen ankles, short hair on his skinny legs and bushy hair on his shoulders and neck.
Miss Lady has huge black eyes with long, curled eyelashes and thick,furry ears.
Ali Baba had one white cheek, hairless ears, and one eye that was droopy loose.
In short, he was a rickety-looking little old man.
No wonder Miss Lady was mortified.
I hope you don’t think I am going to welcome this guy. He is lanky. He is knock kneed. And what’s more, he is ancient. If you think for one second I am going to have a relationship with this relic, you are so sadly mistaken. Then she made a proclamation. I need a new pasture. And I’m taking my goats with me.
The second she had the chance, she loped through the gate and her loyal goats followed.
Ali Baba was non-plused. Rejection was not new to him. He accepted it with quiet grace.
I was embarrassed that she thought I thought there was romantic potential. It ruined the entire vibe of the pasture.
I tried all night to coax her back into the pasture. I got the goats to go back first. They are easily bought with grassy hay and ran right back, bells ringing.
Miss Lady seemed a bit put out by their short memory of her proclamation. What can you expect from young goats, though. They are fickle and easily swayed.
I must have crossed the bottom of the property 20 times trying to herd her home before the sun finally set and I gave up.
The next day, same thing.
So I finally locked Ali Baba into the catch pen in the corner of the pasture. She approached cautiously for breakfast, and upon seeing his closed into the catch pen, she eventually floated into the pasture, holding her head high, and specifically looking away from Ali Baba…
He kept his distance. Poor guy.
Ali Baba’s family has moved away. He’s ours. Mine. Not hers.
We’ll see him though his final years. We’ll not tease him. To his face, anyway.
We have room on our little farm for a little old man.