It finally happened. We had to call in the professionals when it came to shearing Tassie (It’s official! I received my first kick!) and Bree. Jeff Goodwin (and his incredibly helpful family), our new farm heroes, came to our rescue.
The ladies are looking great and the process went smoothly save for one small bump at the end.
Ironically, as Jeff and his family were about to head out, I mentioned that the farm had a personality all its own. I explained that just when I feel like I’ve got it figured out, it throws a dramatic curve and sweeps me off my feet again. It shouldn’t be called a farm; it should be called a humblerer.
As little ‘Topher and I watched the trucks pull out of the drive, I was feeling pretty great. The Goodwins had successfully sheared, vaccinated, clipped nails, and done teeth, and the alpacas did great. Loads of gorgeous Suri fiber lay piled high on a blanket beneath the old white pine. The sun was looming lovely and bright over the horizon. Chris would be home soon for dinner. It was time to relax and enjoy this thing we call farming.
However, the humblerer had other ideas.
Before we headed up to start the fire, I checked in on the ‘pacas and noticed Pecan, Tassie’s mother, was down. Not down in the way I expect to find them while resting, but a death’s door kind of down.
I ran out to check her breathing and found she was breathing normally, but her behavior was way off. She snuggled into me (totally abnormal for an alpaca, no matter how adorably snugly they appear). I ran for my phone only to realize the battery had died.
I had two options – one to flag down someone on the trail for their phone, or two to try to get her to her feet and better assess the situation. Chris would be at the farm shortly, so I opted for a better assessment.
I got her to her feet and she stumbled into me. She walked zombie-like and it appeared she was either blind or suffering from some kind of neurological reaction to the vaccines. Chris arrived with his phone and we called Jeff to first find out whether he had ever seen this reaction. He had not and quickly walked us through a process of evaluation to determine the urgency of the situation. In this time, we saw signs Pecan was improving, but it felt painfully slow.
As it turns out, she had a quickly-resolved reaction to (we think) the vaccine. Before long, was walking normally. By morning, she was eating and behaving as though nothing had happened. We, on the other hand, were again keenly aware of how precious and precarious our walk with livestock can be. Not one, but two large-animal vets now programmed into our phones, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for each twist and turn life takes. And also how wholly in love we are with these magnificent animals, no matter the spit, kicks (Tassie!), and dung piles…
With special gratitude to the Goodwins for their gentle handling of our animals and for their support following.