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After several weeks with Levi and Tumbleweed, we decided to become llama breeders. Our fascination with the animals, and our respect for them, was increasing as we learned more about our two. We were spending a lot of time with them, but their essential care didn’t take long.

Breeding would be an enjoyable way to earn part of our living. We had the money to buy a female or two, and investing in llamas seemed a totally positive act. From what we had seen so far, llamas were good for people, bringing out a sense of wonder and delight.

I was concerned about my ability to become a llama midwife. Llama births were usually normal, but now and then human help would be needed. What if I were home alone and had to help a llama give birth?

While we were thinking about it, I received a phone call from a llama owner who lived nearby. Her first llama birth had been the day before, and Lizabee was bubbling with enthusiasm. She came home from shopping to find four llamas in a field where there had been three.

It seemed that the new little llama had been born just a few minutes earlier. He wasn’t nursing yet. She decided to milk the mother, just to make sure all the teats were unclogged. “I’ve never milked an animal in my life, but when you have to, you learn!” she said.

He began nursing soon, but over the next few hours he became weaker. “So I gave him an enema–and believe me, I’d never given an animal an enema either. But I did it, and almost as soon as I finished, he perked right up.”

I was impressed. “How did you know what to do?”

“I just knew what I’d heard at the conference and what I’d read. Luckily, I knew what I needed to know. It sure was thrilling.”

The first night she slept out in the llama pasture, waking up frequently to look at the new baby lying by its mother, both clearly outlined in the moonlight.

If she could learn, I could learn. Kelly and I went to take a look at two female llamas we had heard about at the llama conference. We didn’t like the looks of the first llama. We learned from her that we were beginning to develop our taste in llama conformation.

We had heard a lot about the second female at the llama conference. The man selling her, Dan Schoenthal, was especially fond of this female, as she was the first llama he had seen being born. “Posey is practically Dan’s daughter,” a friend had joked.

Posey was about a year old. She had long brown wool, a white neck, and some black on her face. At the conference we had peered at slides held up to the light, but we hadn’t been able to tell much. She was being kept at Tom and Toni Landis’ place. We arrived around noon on a hot summer day. Llamas were grazing in the pastures and standing under several deep shade trees. Tom came out to greet us. “I bet you’d like to see Posey first thing,” he said.

She stood in the field among the other llamas. She was slight of frame, not very short but delicate. She was totally feminine. Her eyes were large and brown, complete with long, long lashes. There was something coquettish about her walk as she approached the fence, cautiously coming closer for a better look at us.

Toni had told me at the conference, “We named her Posey because she reminded us of a ladylike young ballerina, one still in the chorus.” It was an apt description here, with the other llamas moving gracefully behind her. There was one other llama watching us, a young black one. She moved away, and my attention returned to Posey.

Tom brought a lead rope, and we caught her after a little chase. Once caught, she submitted–with a slight tremble–to being handled. She came up right next to me and blew on my face. I blew back; this was a llama greeting I knew. She continued blowing, nuzzling my face, sniffing my ears. I had never been so thoroughly cuddled by a llama. I was enchanted. I thought briefly of the poison oak in the pasture, and decided it was worth some risk for this sensitive touch, this sweet alfalfa breath blowing on my face and hair.

“How friendly you are,” I murmured to Posey, my attention riveted to her like a lover’s. Posey and I were in our little cocoon world, and I don’t know which one of us finally pulled away.

“She’s a real sweetheart,” Kelly was saying. “Does she come up to everyone like that?”

“No, not at all,” Tom replied. “Rosana made a real hit.”

“So did she,” I said, still in a daze.

Kelly was holding her lead rope now, feeling her wool and being nuzzled. I tried to come out of my daze. Emotion was no way to buy an expensive animal, I told myself. Think of her conformation, her wool, her genealogy. Ask about any weaknesses or possible problems. Ask about veterinary care. So I did all that. Kelly had some questions too. The answers were satisfactory.

They had a carefully tended ranch here, we could tell, and it was evident that the animals received good care. Within fifteen minutes Posey was ours.

We were travelling in our little Subaru station wagon, thinking of this trip as an exploratory expedition. We hadn’t planned on coming home with a llama. But Kelly said, “I wonder if Posey might fit in the back of the car.” If we packed our overnight bags on top, it seemed there would be room.

There was. Tom found someone else to help, and it took two of us pulling on Posey’s lead rope from the front, and two shoving her flailing legs in from the rear. Quickly there was one surprised llama in the back of our small car. She grunted a little as we shoved her in; then she settled down to a steady stream of hums. As we prepared to leave, I put my face up to hers. She blew on me. I blew back, and we were off.

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