Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Llama Wrestling

A couple of weeks ago the woman and I were in the feed store. Nothing interesting about that, it usually happens at least once a week, sometimes more depending on the flow of estrogen around the ranch. I can't even remember what we were shopping for, doesn't matter really. What matters is that my wife is a complete push over when it comes to animals. A couple of years ago we wanted to start a large animal rescue, it didn't work out but by the looks of the ranch one would never know. Some months ago we came home to find a new goat in one of the runs. Some lady, who knows some lady, who knows the Cripple Creek Medical Chief who knows the 4 Mile Medical Chief, said to some other person that we would be happy to adopt it. We got the HOUND DOG in the same way. Hound climbed into the Professor JoDee's truck, JoDee told Shelly to see if she could find the owner and here we are a year later happily adjusting to Bloodhound farts at 2 a.m. Life is good! At any rate, as I said we were in the feed store. Turns out that DC needed to find homes for two of his llamas as he was selling his house and moving. Llamas don't rank in my top ten favorite animals. I don't completely dislike them, they are just "there." We already had four llamas that do an outstanding job of guarding goats and sheep. They are low maintenance, poop in "llama bathrooms", and don't spit very often. Three of them are girls and one is an intact male that was born here at the ranch. The male, named Q-Tip is a huge ball of fiber that lives across the street at the in-laws and roams 70 acres with Buster the Donkey. Shelly has been mentioning for too long that she would like to get Q-Tip a girlfriend. I just don't see the point. We don't need more llamas and just because we have a boy with jewels doesn't mean that we need wee ones. So, when she would mention something, I would do my best to ignore it. If Q-Tip really needed a woman we have a couple, we would just need to bring them together. Handling our llamas is not exactly easy. They are halter broke, and will eat out of your hand and once in awhile they will let you touch them. Like I said, they are just there. Last fall we decided that we had better get them vaccinated and dewormed. We managed to get two out of four stuck! Spot was easy and I had hoped that Oreo and Mama Llama would be the same but I was mistaken. Oreo has personality, she hums at me when I pass her pasture, she chews on my shirt sleeves and has bushy old man eyebrows. When it comes to leading her to the vet, she turns into a seizure on the end of a lead line. I managed to get her head tied to a post thinking that if I immobilize her she will be easier to handle. Instead of throwing her head around, she kicked me in the thighs. The vet lovingly refers to it as a "little rodeo." So, I really didn't want new llamas. DC however saw Shelly walking in and knew that he had a new home for his girls. Despite my protests Shelly made arrangements to bring them home. DC offered to transport them from his house to ours but said he might need help getting them in the trailer. I have learned that if someone needs help loading their own animals it is best to just stay home. No good will come of it. Then again we aren't really talking about me. Shelly jubilantly says that "we" will be over after chores one morning. So after chores one morning we take a very scenic route to DC's house. His llamas, Cinnamon and Tierra are in a small pasture with a catch pen in one corner. Shelly is quick to point out that there is a catch pen so it shouldn't be too bad. We drive up and retrieve DC from his workshop. DC says that he hasn't really worked with them since he got them THREE YEARS AGO! BUT....he thinks that we will be able to halter them with no problems. DC kills the zap on the fence and darts in the catch pen with a handful of grain. Both llamas follow him in and he quickly secures the gate. When Tierra heard the click of the gate she spazzes out. She's darting from corner to corner, kicking grain, and trying to climb the fence. Llamas don't normally climb the fence but her funky black toes were three squares from the top hot wire and she was towering over Shelly. DC finds some halters and leads and when Tierra sees them the spazzing is upgraded to a full on psychotic fit, complete with foaming. DC calmly says not to worry about her if we can get Cinnamon out, Tierra will give up and calm down. Hmmm, problem. Cinnamon is getting irritated because Tierra is kicking around all of the grain. Shelly instructs me to stand gate guard in case they opt to jump over it. Whohoo, I'm thrilled. I'm not overjoyed about new mouths to feed and I certainly don't want to be on the end of a vile, bile filled spit bomb either. DC works out a plan with Shelly. DC is going to wrap the lead around Cinnamon and trap her in a corner, Shelly is to then simply slide the halter on and clip it. Simple and effective? Nope! DC gets the lead around the neck of the gangly beast. Cinnamon starts whipping her head from side to side, whipping DC around with her. DC instructs Shelly to help in get her in a corner. As the two of them are being shaken about, Cinnamon decides to abruptly sit down and folds her legs underneath of her. DC gets thrown over the back of the llama and is now wedged between Shelly and a mass of fiber. He looks puzzled but shakes it off and attempts to right himself on the opposite side again. Cinnamon then bounds up from her down position and again whips her head from side to side. DC is still pinned between the llama and Shelly. The entire time DC and Shelly are contending with Cinnamon, Tierra continues to pace between the corners of the pen, climbing up the fence each time. A couple of times the two llamas collide and ears are thrown back in the familiar, "get the heck out of my space or I'll spit" stance. Dust is flying, grain is tossed and DC and Shelly have been molded into one. Somehow they get Cinnamon smushed into a corner and Shelly attempts to slide the halter on. DC is still wedged in between her and the llama. Each time Shelly gets the halter near Cinnamon's nose she flips her head to the other side. Shelly attempts to hold the llama's head but DC's girth prevents her from getting a grip. I offer, not very loudly but still I offer, to help out. My offer is declined. At this point I'm trying very hard not to laugh out loud. My abs are hurting from holding it in. I motion to Jolene and tell her to get the camera from the truck. I can't believe I have been muffling my giggles for this long and haven't even thought of getting pictures. Cinnamon continues the bob and weave for several more minutes until Shelly has decided that she has had enough. Shelly grabs the llamas head, pulls the neck down toward her pinning the head between her forearm and bicep. Like a wrestler executing a headlock. DC's cries became muffled for a second or two and the halter was placed on the llama. One down. DC instructs Shelly to clip the lead on and then let Cinnamon go until we can get Tierra. Shelly gives him a look, Gary Coleman style-->"Whatcha you talking about?" and reluctantly lets the lead go. Cinnamon drags the line over to a couple of kernels of corn that have somehow remained untouched during the match. Tierra is still darting back and forth across the small pen. I ask again if I can help and Shelly enthusiastically accepts this time. Jolene has returned from the truck with camera in hand and offers to gate guard in my place. I climb over the gate and ready myself for round two. DC picks up his lead line and hands me the halter. He says again that Tierra will eventually give up. Eventually? I'm not a stickler for specifics but "Eventually" is just a bit too broad for me. DC instructs Shelly and I to use the same tactic on Tierra that was used on Cinnamon. Hmmm.....? Exactly what that was I am unsure. DC does get Tierra to calm down and quit darting around by humming and talking to her. For a second I think that this might not be so bad. I was wrong. I've been wrong a lot lately. As soon as he flops the lead on her back, Tierra returns to her diagonal laps across the pen. She again collides with Cinnamon and ears are thrown again. DC chases her back and forth and halfway up the fence with the lead but manages to get it round her neck. He gasps instructions to get her in a corner and Shelly and I commence to smushing the llama against the corner post. Instead of sticking in the corner Tierra kind of oozes along the fence line, and soon we are in another corner. She continues oozing along, dragging us with her as she goes. DC is telling me to slip the halter on her, and I'm trying. Tierra does a bit of a bob and weave like Cinnamon, except instead of side to side it is more of an up and down motion. We have now oozed around the entire pen and are back in the initial corner. Jolene is giggling, taking pictures and cheering. Between chuckles she yells at me to pretend that the llama is an ostrich. What a smart kiddo I have. I'm thankful that Jolene and I like to watch Dirty Jobs, as recently we saw an episode on an Ostrich ranch in which the birds were blinded with a sock of sorts in order to get them on a trailer. I'm not gonna blind the bouncing llama but I decide to take Jolene's suggestion. I slip the halter over my left hand, letting it dangle in the crook of my elbow. I then grab the nose of the llama with my left hand and use my right hand to pull the halter over the face of the oozing mass of fiber. I managed to get the halter on, and after a few bounces get it hooked to the lead. I throw up my hands as if I'm a champion goat tying rodeo queen and collapse into the dust. DC lets go of his end of the lead and bends over hands on knees and sucks up some dirty air. Shelly slides down the corner post and sighs with exhaustion. Jolene is sitting a top the gate, congratulating us. Both llamas are haltered with leads but Tierra continues to do her diagonal laps. After a few seconds of recovery we decided to "Git er Done" and grab for lead lines. Amazingly once the leads were in hand the girls settled down. DC reminds us again that Tierra gives up. Gives up after it's all in place! Jolene opens the gate and we lead the llamas around to the trailer, slap them in and head down the road. The rest was pretty uneventful. The girls were offloaded in Q-Tips pasture and introductions were made. I check on them every day from my front porch. Shelly asks each day if I have seen any love connections, to which I reply, "I don't give a Poo!" I can't remember what the gestation period of a llama is but I will find out and I will be away from the ranch around then. It ended okay, I didn't get a face full of llama spit, Jolene got a good laugh, and Shelly got two more animals. I think I'm gonna design a neato "Champion Llama Wrestler" belt for her to wear with her Wranglers.

*****On August 5, 2009 DC (David Carr) died of a heart attack. Dave owned Divide Feed with his wife Marina. Shelly and I spent a few dollars there from time to time. I dedicate my "Champion Llama Wrestling" title to Dave...where ever he may be.******