Image via WikipediaWhen you shift your avocation from horses to llamas, you think you know a thing or two that will transfer. And, to a large extent, that's true. I brought my horse sense to llamas, thinking that just might be enough. It wasn't, and I learned that quickly. The reason is remarkably simple: llamas are not horses. While both are fleet of foot and fast to startle, their personalities and needs differ. When I reflect on my nearly 30 years with horses, I realize that driving to a total-care show barn is much different than looking out my sunroom windows to gaze on my barn on my farm where I am the decision-maker. I am finally living the life I have dreamed about since I was old enough to understand the power of shaping your life. And I know how truly fortunate I am; not one day goes by without giving thanks.
But, as with everything, there is a bit of a downside to owning livestock. Nothing brought that home to me more sharply than reading a blog I just recently found, written by Kevin Woodward (llamakevin on Twitter) who lives in Bideford, North Devon, in the United Kingdom. His Blog of a llama owner & breeder (the English teacher in me wishes he would capitalize the nouns) brings an honesty and voice to blogging that often never surfaces in the animal world. So often we gloss over or fail to speak the unspoken. Years of showing dogs, then horses taught me so much that went unsaid. Perhaps it was a different climate then, certainly pre-internet for half of the time, and definitely not a collaborative global community with PLNs and social networking like now. Woodward's most recent post, "the downside of having livestock..." wrenched my heart, as it will likely yours, because if you are reading this, you must be an animal lover. No matter how meticulous the care that we give our animals, we always feel a sense of guilt of not having done enough, even when our neighbor is a vet. We bring that parenting sense from having raised our children to our pets, and we second guess ourselves when truly we should not. I feel Kevin's pain, and even though I have never been a breeder of anything yet, like all of us, I've lost beloved creatures, either to old age or that unspoken "C."
What is so timely about Woodward's post is its timing in my life. An owner of three wonderful girls, one of them, I hope, is successfully bred. Time will tell, but with that time will certainly come a more somber approach to the gestation period. I am excited, yes, but will come to the process with an awareness I might not have had before.... Yes, I'll have a great digital scale, and yes I will weigh my girls, and do daily diligence. And I'll pray for some more good fortune, that my veteran llama mamma, Ciera, will deliver yet another healthy cria.
Finding Woodward was such a plus. Somehow I knew someone out there had to be blogging about owning and raising llamas. I just couldn't find them (although I admit to being a geek of sorts, I am not good at searching--weird, right?). So, finding Kevin was a good thing. He's on Blogger, which puts him right inside my neighborhood; he's on Twitter, and he's in my Google Reader, which puts him squarely in my PLN. If anyone else is blogging about llamas or alpacas, please post a comment so I can read and learn from you too.
Blog of a llama owner & breeder