Great! Now, ALL the animals are mad at me! The vet came over today with the intent to give the Addie Acres hoard their shots. Dr. Larry, our adult son Kyle and I chased, cornered, tricked, tackled and yelled at running horses, llamas and goats. It took over an hour to get the job done. It felt like a long weekend moving a household! Sparky ran like the wind. She ran and ran and ran and ran, and, oh, did I mention that she ran? She was NOT going to let Doc stick her with anything. Finally, after a loooonnnng run and chase ... she stopped and stood there defiantly, but in defeat! HA! We win ... she got her meds!
The llamas and alpaca were another story. When we were trying to corner Sammy & Lincoln in the open field, they kept running towards the fence where rogue llama Stormy was pacing. Since he is not overly fond of any other male in the pasture, he was very upset! Stormy pushed against the fence spitting in our direction while yelling out his clacking war cry toward the boys. He then tried to jump, push through, and topple the fence all in one motion which unnerved smaller alpaca Lincoln since he is usually the target of Stormy's rampaging aggression.
So ... three humans, two llamas and one scared Alpaca began to run in circles yelling, clacking and spitting with a few choice sailor words blurted from the guys! We finally got them cornered and did a free-for-all grab with Lincoln getting caught as Sammie slipped through six arms and galloped to the farthest corner of the pasture that he could possibly get with Kyle undeterred running after him.
“My camera ... I need my camera!!” I thought. Youth.
Kyle chased that llama in a wide circle as Stormy uncharacteristically spit back towards The Doc while I hung onto a squirmy Lincoln. Sammie ran for the gate and was cut off by our salty old vet who has learned all the sneak, grab and hold tricks from the past 40 years. With syringes and medicine in hand and a few quick pokes, we claimed victory with “job somewhat well done”! Ten upset animals, now in stunned silence, watched as three humans high fived and gave cowboy style whoops of YIPPEE!!!
I didn't mention how we corned the goats. Sierra and Dillon put on a performance deserving an account all their own. To be continued.
Defying the laws of physics, Dunkay managed to fit his plump, furry body through a tiny opening in the back gate and into the forbidden pasture with rogue llama Stormy. Mini-horse Lacy, aka The Tank, tried to follow him, but is a bit chunkier than he is and looked like the oft-fought battle many fight with skinny jeans a size too small. She twisted, snorted and tried to jump. She gave up and backed out while Dunkay stood there mockingly with a mouthful of grass. Sparky, not to be deterred or outdone by a mere donkey, thought she could get through to the field of plenty and squeezed, whinnied, stomped her hooves and got stuck like a cork.
I stood there watching the performance as my eyes rolled with the words, "oh, brother" coming out of my mouth along with "c'mon!" With indifference at this point, I went to the other side with Dunkay and I pushed Sparky's head and shoulders, forcing her to go backwards and freed her from the trap. I must admit I was tempted to leave her there and be contented with a scolding of "bad horse, very naughty"!
I then turned my attention on the original issue, Dunkay! We sized each other up for about 15 seconds, me with narrowing eyes and he with the amusement of knowing it would soon be chase time. I stepped toward him and he stepped back. I raised my arms to start my 'famous crazy farmer lady yell,' and he, unfazed, turned around and trotted to the back part of the pasture. The games had begun!
I chased, he dodged. I yelled waving my arms, he threw his head back and loudly, with seeming laughter, let out a 'HEE HAW.' We sparred back and forth as Stormy camped in the corner watching.
All the while, chickens scattered, feathers flying, while the mama hen protected chicks as we barreled through the middle of the flock that previously had been peacefully pecking away at the grass. It seemed the madder I got, the greater energy and happiness he bolted with. He won. This time.
I left him there for Super Farmer to deal with when he got home. Later on around dusk, I listened as Dunkay sounded out his amusement when Super Farmer chased him back and forth yelling out words like, 'Idiot, stop, awww, come on!' I quickly went outside and pulled up a rocker to watch the unfolding show. I definitely got my money's worth!
Super Farmer gave up. He came back to the house mumbling as he scraped the poop off of his dress shoes with tie flapping behind him. He gave me a 'don't even say it' glare, so silently I giggled and gave a thumbs up to Dunkay. Later, a simple offering of carrots tempted Dunkay to follow me without fanfare as he smugly returned to his own field. Just another day at Addie Acres.
Sierra, my wannabe mountain goat, decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence (which is true by the way) and wiggled, squirmed, pushed and grunted her plump little body under the fence to chow down. Soon she was chasing the three llamas in their pasture away from little patches of plants. Dillon, her companion and typical goat-in-crime, tried to follow her and got stuck half way under the chain link. He is a bit chunkier than she is and backed himself out then BAAAAA'D at her to come back on their side.
Sierra was too busy eating to notice that only she made it to the pasture of plenty. Dillon trotted back and forth along the fence (which is what Stormy does non-stop) Baaaaaawing at her to come back or help him sneak under. All day, she ate while he baaaawed, she ignored, he ran back and forth, she chowed down more and more, he cried louder. After about six hours of this, I went out there to chase her back but she was having too much of a 'weed feast' and ran away from me! So now we have one frustrated, crazy farmer lady chasing a little black & white goat waving her arms as three llamas were galloping to one end of the pasture to the other trying to stay out of the way as we ran past them like a couple of nuts on the loose from the 'funny farm'!
I always forget how fast a stubby goat can run until I'm chasing one! After 10 minutes of exercise I didn't need or want, I gave up. I left her there looking all smug & satisfied that she got her way ... again! I walked through the gate, past Dillon who was still baaaaaawing and demanded he "shut up"! He looked up at me with a surprised look in his beady eyes and cried even louder, which made Sierra causally walk to the gate, brush past me and get on her side of the fence! Both goats then trotted to the barn and went inside. Really?! Seriously?! REALLY?!
Sierra and Dillon, the staring goats.
After a few months of being farmers and getting the llama experience we, or shall I say I, decided it was time to add to our family of animals. You know us women, we all want a horse. It is every little girl’s dream to have a horse, white and powerful who eats carrots out of your hand and tramples deadly snakes to save your life! My dream horse was named Snowfire after a 1960s era TV show. So, of course, I wanted a similarly white and majestic horse!
I got on the Internet one night after causally mentioning to Chad about "horses, farm, more fun, how about it, etc.” Before he could answer, I already had four sheets printed out of who had horses and where within 500 miles! I narrowed it down to 10 miles and found a cute little place in the country called, Knapp Mini Horses. We visited Lisa and her prize horses. She had every size, shape and color. I saw my white horse off in the distance and beelined to her. She wasn’t a ‘real’ horse as her head came just past my waist and had a little gray mixed in. Also, her name was Sparky and, we would later find out, there was good reason for that. I nuzzled her nose and made up my mind that Sparky was going to be mine!
Now we needed another horse because, according to the always-truthful Internet, they do better in pairs. We found Laci off by herself eating, which we later discovered she does best, non-stop, like a lawnmower on perpetual autopilot. She was brown with a golden mane and, best of all, she was with foal. Two horses for the price of one, we (or I) reasoned! Laci reminded me of a Walmart greeter so I thought she would be great with little kids when they petted her in undeterred munch. We went into dickering mode with the seller and agreed on a price. I was a few hundred dollars short. Lisa offered to let us put them on ‘lay-a-way’. So, for two months, I paid on my horsey-lay-away and got our barn ready for the new family members.
I had a talk with the llamas assuring them that the new horses were not as important as they were and that Mommy would still love them the most! They heard me without listening, blinking as they stared into space while my ‘Charlie brown teacher voice’ went over and around them. Soon, the day came when my little girl dream became a reality! Lisa dropped off my horses and gave us a small booklet on, yes that’s right, the ‘do’s and don’ts for mini horses’. Like before with the “llama manual’, I scanned it, under lined the important stuff and handed it to Chad. He responded much the same as before and had set the book aside as soon as I lifted my pointing finger from the page.
We introduced the animals and the llamas ran out of the barn into the pasture as the horses bee-lined it to the fresh hay. Yep, it was going to work out nice. We had two llamas and two mini horses with a foal on the way! The four were easy to take care of and gave us hours of entertainment and enjoyment. Well, easy and entertaining for me anyway. Super Farmer Chad now had barn duties that he didn’t count on, like mucking the barn, feeding animals in 20-below blizzards, and chasing horses back into their side of the field or off the road after knocking down the fence. What could be better? Maybe a goat or two? Or, three dozen chickens? Why not add a few … dozen bunnies? A ferret? And, of course one has to have a barn kitty or three to keep out riff raff.
I was sitting on the back porch at dusk the other evening. It is a beautiful Spring night, the trees are just beginning to bud, white and yellow daffodils are in full bloom and my animals are fighting each other for the tiny sprouts of green grass trying to come up for life and sunshine.
As I'm watching the horses and Dunkay shove each other away from the struggling blades of green, my mind floated back to 5 years ago when Chad (Super Farmer) and I thought it would be fun to start a little farm with no experience and deceiving thoughts of "I'm sure it will be easy, how hard can it be??!!"
We found a cute, already established farm and started off with two Llamas given as housewarming gifts by the previous "Llama Farm" occupants. These llamas, Sweetie and Violet, surely were like llamas we had seen before and even got close to once. Therefore, we had enough experience to begin with two huge animals that don't like to be touched, are shy around humans, and keep a good distance between you and them unless there's grain.
Sweetie and Violet were 'mini llamas' so, instead of being 6 feet tall, they were only 5 1/2 feet. We thought, "Piece of cake!" Our two full grown Llamas came with 'royalty' papers and a guide book that was close to an inch thick, filled with the do's and don'ts of raising your own llamas for fun or profit. I read the book in 20 minutes and absorbed nothing! I wasn't familiar with farm language yet and didn't know anything about shearing every summer and clipping feet every 5 to 6 months so I underlined all that important farm stuff and handed it over to my soon to be named, Super Farmer, husband. He frowned at me as he flipped though all my underlining and pink high lights. I acted like I didn't notice his indifference while I pointed to all the important stuff like 'They Must be Sheared' and 'No Dogs Should Ever Be Allowed Near Them.' I didn't let on that the dog part worried me since we have a small pack of hounds and I REALLY wanted llamas.
Chad and I learned quickly what llamas liked and what they didn't, which is almost everything. We gained the trust of Sweetie who now gives kisses and have come to be experts on our girls. We and the regular flow of inquisitive visitors enjoy Sweetie and Violet. This summer, our first llama babies will be born. I'm glad we started this adventure together with Llamas! We have learned much about farming and a new kind of commitment to animals (and each other) as we do 'rock-paper-scissors' to see who is going out in the middle of a blizzard to feed, water and chase! Being a farmer is fun and satisfying, especially when I can relax on my antique wicker rocking chair with a frosty glass of raspberry tea, shouting to Super Farmer who is out in the pasture doing the work with more animals than he can count on his fingers and toes. There is a special joy to see Sparky chasing the goat again and to be able to call out, "GO SAVE HER!" And, he does.
We should name our big fat horse Laci ... Houdini! I went out to the barn about an hour ago to do my 'feed the animals without being trampled' dance. I gave Sparky her pill, then turned to give Laci her medicine and noticed she wasn't in the barn doing her usual pigging out jockeying for hay. Hmmm, was she really wanting to eat the still brown grass? No! Somehow, she had forced her rotund horsey body through a newly created gap in the fence and stood munching emerging green grass next to our 6-foot-tall concrete hand. Unfortunately, Lacy's hooves tend to founder in the fresh spring grass and the road only a few feet beyond the hand threatened a more fatal encounter with passing cars.
With passersby driving slowly to take in the spectacle of a funny plump horse next to an oversized hand, I reflexively grabbed her leash and calmly walked out the gate pretending I wasn't in the least interested in catching her. As I approached our naughty girl, I gave her the original pill mixed with goat grain and slipped the lead around her fury mane. As I let out a sigh of relief, Laci gave a loud "whiiinnnniiiiee" as she realized the crafty human had gained control again. Woo-hoo ... crisis averted and another win for the mama, which, with animals who tend to be smarter than the average bear, is not always the case.
And now, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. With Laci back in the barn penned up with the oft co-conspirator Sparky, I ventured to figure out the secret of the escape without the assistance of Superfarmer. I walked the fence line until I found where she had worked it until it came loose. I was shocked! This overweight so-called "mini" horse not only worked a spot loose, but it required her getting down on her belly and wriggling through the bottom of the fence like soldiers under barbed wire during live fire drills in basic training. My remedy? A concrete block and binder twine interlacing the fence with it to prevent the next attempted foray. Proudies to me, I did this on my own. Of course, when Superfarmer Chad arrives from his sure-to-be-long-day at work, he will be sent out alone in the dark to inspect ALL of the fence and to fix any remaining horsey-shaped imprints still misshaping the fence.
It is amazing how the bellowing of hungry animals can be heard despite no perceptible sound. It is as if I can feel their collective staring eyes boring holes through the walls of the house until I respond with demanded food. Tonight was no different. I go to the barn to feed my supposedly starving animals and look over my 5-foot-high kitty condo tree where I feed my kitties. I usually put their food up there so the chickens don’t beat them to it. Of course, it doesn’t always work as our chickens sense cat kibbles, the goat grain and all llama munchies. If there’s food anywhere within 10 miles, those chickens will find it!
As I approach the cat dish to see if it needed filling up, I notice an unfamiliar and odd furry cat with its back to me, head buried deep in the yummy kitty nibbles. My first thought is, “what is wrong with that cat’s fur, it’s shiny and gray? I don’t remember any of the barn kitties being so odd.” I go over to see the “kitty,” and he turns around to glare at me with beady little eyes and a not-so-cute hiss complete with a gaping toothy grimace! It’s a possum!! I internally scream, “WHAT??!!” My boy kitty is sitting up there with him like they are buddies or something!
It is a young possum, and I relent as I see he is kind of cute, with squinted eyes and a big-boy bravado! He just sat there, with my cat curiously watching, daring me to chase him away. I loudly say to Boy Kitty, “Come on! This is why I hired you! To keep the riff raff away! Now do your job!!” He yawned! He really did, he actually yawned. The friendly possum then let his body go limp, hanging his head over the side as the kitty sat next to him. He was 'playing possum' with me! After about a minute, he realized that I wasn't going to hit him over the head and straightened up, going back to munching away with Boy Kitty! I roll my eyes and turn, thinking this is one for Superfarmer to handle. As I leave, I look over my shoulder to see my boy kitty and his new bud sitting on top of the cat condo sharing a nice dinner. Oh brother. Such is life on Addie Acres. True story!!!