Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wrong Again

Stress--and wicked bad thunderstorms (try hail in May)--always show true colors in man or beast. My second year's experience clipping my llamas (I watch, pray, provide moral support for the girls) was one for the books. The best and the worst of the girls shinned through. So let me begin with Tabbethia Haubold, groomer extraordinaire. I was her last stop at the end of jam-packed crazy week. With four girls to shear and counting down to returning to her Yaphank, NY home, Tabbethia is all business. So is my husband in business matters, so I totally understand her. Twice she called to remind me to have the girls in the stalls, haltered, and ready (her customer before me failed to comply). We were over-the-top-ready, for way too long a time for girls who are used to deciding their day.

Tabbethia is beautiful and incredibly strong, but that's the end of the story. She drove through golf-ball hailstorms and the second-worst thunderstorm, weather according to me. Tabbethia wants her best llama last and the most-stressed first. So we began with Et Cetera, who had a spit fight with Tess during the thunderstorm because Tess tried to mount her. I recited and sang the "Hail Mary"in more ways and versions than all the churches in Christendom combined, 93 minutes worth, so I was really prayered up for the clipping. All the girls benefited from my second-year calm, but Tess actually responded to the prayers, like Barnabas in The Mitford Books. I tried praying again today, and again, Tess responded in the same way. Perhaps it is just her love of attention, but I think differently. Et Cetera was a jewel, that Sophisticated Lady she truly is (if I could rename her, it would be Lady). After her, the rest of the clipping was an exercise in degrees of not as good.

Tess was second, and except for a half-dozen kicks that did not make their mark, she was a good girl. She is a kicker, much like a mare that I had years ago, Scout's Honor. Gentle, calm, but always quick to kick. We took Miss Cierra next, because I was saving the best for last. Cierra is pregnant, due June 10, and except for not liking her belly and sides, and her neck (I forgot to tell Tabbethia about a benign small growth), she was really very good. Excellent for a near-due date pregnancy. Almost no trouble.

Saving the best for last made me wrong again (Mickey's second favorite phrase). Good last year, she was your worst nightmare yesterday. Honestly, I thought we would not get her clipped. Pictures or a video would have been amazing but not humanly possible. The smallest of the four, she was as bad as my 16.3 Thoroughbred-Warmblood cross was once during a storm. Oddly, by the time Tabbethia arrived (spelled her name without looking this time), the sun was out. Hormones, pregnancy, call it what you want, as I see it, Rev was worse than any big, bad horse ever was for clipping.

Without a doubt, Rev was the surprise and a bad one at that. But there were other surprises as well. Tabbethia thinks I am the most non-aggressive person out there, and apparently so does my breeder, Carol Reigh. Funny, isn't it; if they only knew.... Guess Tabbethia based it on my telling her that discovering Rev's toenail issue ruined my Mother's Day (it truly did; I had trouble enjoying what was a wonderful day). Yet she realized that I was not worried, rather a really cool customer, helping her handle clipping Rev. Funny, but I really was non-plussed about her bad behavior. I kept telling Rev she was a good girl, with Tabbethia saying oh not she isn't or NOT! So I sweat the small stuff, but am a real trouper with hard things. I told Tabbethia that I have always known who I am, including my oddities, and she seemed to respect that.

I learned that I will never clip the girls. Ever. She has a job for life, and no amount of money would ever make me change my mind. Frankly, clipping a bad horse is much easier than a bad llama. The chute that Carol sold me is worth a Sumo wrestler's weight in gold. If ever a piece of equipment was tested and passed with five-star general status, it would be Carol's chute. So if you have camelids and you do not have her chute, invest in your herd's future and buy one. After working so brutally hard on the farm yesterday, to go to a go-round with the girls was just another day in the life of a farm girl.

You can discover more about Tabbethia Haubold's business, check out her website, Long Island Livestock Company. She conducts an educational program about llamas, sponsors camelid fiber shows, judges in the show ring, spins her llama fiber and offers yarn products for sale. And we know she is one great shearer; when she had to, she bodily lifted Rev, getting her to stand when the belly harness just would not do the job. And after all that, Tabbethia had a three-hour drive home. God bless her!

Gave you her coordinates, just in case you are a geocaching llama lover like me.

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