Saturday, 23 June 2012

Managing Unruly Alpacas

Cast - Me (Mum), Husband, 18 Y.O daughter, 14 Y.O son, 20 month old son, and the Alpaca lady.  
Starring - Vodka (Voddy - five y.o pregnant female), Malibu (Boo - three year old pregnant female), Hamish and Sherman 6 mth old male cria (baby alpaca).
The 'Alpaca Lady' came to visit today, and we eagerly awaited her visit, hoping that she would consolidate what we had been taught at Alpaca school last Sunday.  In preparation for her visit, daughter and I has previously spent an hour (precious - as 20mth was asleep) raking 'Paka poo into a neat pile, to pretend that our four knew they were supposed to poo in a pile.  After luring the four Pakas into the next paddock by feigning intense interest in a bucket of chaff, we noticed how far and away our four had pooed, in lines, haphazardly and in random almost circular patterns. 
Of course with the previous nights torrential rainfall, it was extremely difficult to pick up (try to scrape up wet marbles with a shovel on tufty grass).  Tired of following balls down the paddock, and thought I had perfected the process of rolling the poo up the slope and using the next grass tuft to lift them onto the shovel.  About to share my triumph with daughter, I see that she is merely flicking balls onto her shovel with the side of her boot.  We both traipsed with our sodden loads to a centre point, and began the poo pile.  An hour later, my back aching and listening to the increasing complaints of unruly and undisciplined  poo drops from daughter, we had two impressive poo piles.

Alpaca Lady arrived, and after a cursory discussion about our four, intense discussion regarding fleece and where I would like to take the business (once up and running), we ventured out into the paddock.  Of course, the two girls looked up from the bottom of the paddock to see what this rude interruption to their grazing could possibly mean - and sighted me coolly waving the bucket above my head.  Voddy set off with a gallop, which inspired Boo to follow, whilst the boys ran in the same general direction and in everyone's way.  Luckily, we were standing up-hill, as Voddy is quite large and I have no idea if 80 kilos of Paka, running on wet grass, is going to stop in time or take me out into the fence.  With the bucket shoved firmly in front of me and arm braced, Voddy simply runs into the bucket head-first.  I look sideways at the Alpaca women, to see her reaction to such a fervent display of cupboard love, and she is instead looking disdainfully at Voddy's fleece.

After much enticement, and everyone trying their best with undisciplined Pakas, we eventually have the four in the pen.  Paka lady wants to see them up front, and knows that daughter and I have only just progressed to stroking their necks whilst baby-talking to them (well, it has only been four weeks since we bought them), so she warns us that she wont be hurting them when she grabs them.  Herding Hamish into a corner, she professionally grabs him around the neck and body and straddles him.  Hamish is astonished! He has a large stranger sitting over him, and he screams for help.  Voddy, in a display of rare affection for Hamish, starts after the Paca lady to receive a swift slap on the nose! She tries it again with bottom teeth bared (a very unattractive look), to receive another slap on the nose.  It is Voddy's turn to look astonished, but she recovers quickly and decides that her tactic is to glower at the stranger from beneath half lidded eyes, with just the tops of those teeth showing (even more unattractive).

Meanwhile, Sherman is not comprehending what is going on and is skipping around in circles at the sound of Hamish' pathetic cries of help, Boo is behind Voddy, urging her to have another go at the stranger.  Paka lady continues her conversation and her examination of Hamish, looking at his teeth, checking his fleece and then reaching behind her and under his tail to feel his male development!  Hamish is sobbing by this stage, and Voddy is circling for another go, when the Packa lady slaps a huge kiss on Hamish' lips for being 'a good boy' and invites 'Mum' (me?????) to give him a kiss!  I love Hamish, he is so cute, but a kiss on the lips so early in our relationship seems too intrusive.  Instead, I pretend to peck his nose, but do take the opportunity for a good cuddle (I have waited so long!).  Hamish is then released, and we eye up Sherman.

Sherman, being smaller and more timid than Hamish (if that is possible), senses the change in attention and quickly hides behind Hamish.  The Paka lady instructs me to 'get him' and I do try.  Three laps around the pen, the two girls have to be banished as they deliberately block and hide Sherman, Hamish and Sherman are simultaneously running and eliciting high kicks into the air. Finally we garner him into the corner, and while he is looking confused, I lunge at him to grasp only the tips of his fleece.  He takes off, and at once the wind is whipping through my hair as I hear the lady shout 'don't let go!', and I am dragged around the pen in circles.  Sherman tires quickly, and I am able to shove him against the gate with my knee under his shoulder and my arm around his neck.

Different in temperament to Hamish, Sherman immediately is limp!  I worry that I have strangled him, but he is breathing.  He looks dejected and resigned to the fate that this woman will probably sit on him too.  Although Voddy is breathing heavily over the fence, and Boo paces up and down outside, both girls are ignored as the Paka lady inspects Sherman.  He too has good teeth and quite good fleece, but this compliment does nothing to cheer up Sherman.  Adding insult to injury, she checks his manhood and then slaps a kiss on him too.  Daughter is allowed a cuddle of her Alpaca, and Sherman cheers a bit when she quitely talks to him.  Sherman is then released, and to my horror I turn to find the lady preparing vitamin shots for the boys, and at this point I step out to let my (nurse) husband have a go.

Later, when the boys are sorted and the verdict given...'good cria fleece but not stud quality males - they will make good wethers' - (poor little men), they are released to the paddock and the girls are bought back in.  The Paka lady says that Voddy is obnoxious (really?), and needs to learn that I am boss.  She then corners Voddy with Husband, and both lunge at her.  The fun begins.  Voddy is having none of this, but realises that she cannot easily escape the large stranger and Husband.  She defies all that I have researched for the past month in Alpaca behaviour, and starts to spit on both of them.  The stench is overwhelming and I am secretly glad that I am not the recipient until the lady shouts 'get me a sock' and I run back into the house for one.

When I return I am suprised that Voddy is now screaming on her side, but not suprised that both of them are covered in bright, green spittle.  Voddy's lips are stained green and I wonder if she is going to get a kiss at the end.  I approach warily with the sock and am told to just 'get it on her'.  I quickly pull the sock up over Voddy's mouth and nose and realise, by the by, that it is one of my good socks!  Anyway, I am told to holding the still-spitting Voddy, whilst Husband maintains his pressure and the lady clips Voddy's toes.  With my arm wrapped around Voddys neck and my knee on top of her shoulder, Voddy continues to spit into my sock, her fleece stinks and I am only a foot away from watching her toenail clipping - it is disgusting.  The stench from the sock burns my eyes, and I wish that this pedicure from hell would be over, when the last foot is finally completed.  I then become aware that Daughter has been 'shooing' Boo away from us, and Boo is circling.  Looking up, Boo has her bottom teeth protruding and is working up the courage to bite one of us!

We release Voddy, pull of the sock and she stalks off whilst giving us filthy looks - she didn't get a kiss.  Voddy is banished from the pen and Husband and I are instructed to 'get' Boo.  After Voddy, Boo is much easier and she submits to her pedicure and examination without any spitting or fuss.  What a good girl.  I notice though, that she isn't kissed either.  The verdict with the girls is that they are probably due in December, they are in great condition, their fleece is crap and Voddy has behaviour issues.

That night, we all discuss the day as Husband and I compare bruises and I comment that no mention of the neat poo piles was entered into.  Husband reflects that he too is a wether, and thus ends dinner conversation with a bang.  The Alpaca's have stayed well away from the house, and were seen in the twilight discussing escape options over the fence with the neighbouring cattle.

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