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It was several hours, mostly on freeways, to our place. Posey continued her questioning hums; I answered by telling her about Levi, Tumbleweed, and all the fine llama babies she would have. Now and then I turned around, and we rubbed noses.

Posey moved around sideways until she was looking out the back window. I was surprised that few motorists noticed.

One car did pull up next to us. “What’s that, a goat?” hollered the driver.

“A LLAMA!” Kelly and I chorused. The fellow grinned.

We arrived home late in the afternoon. I later heard from a llama-owning friend that she too had transported llamas in the back of a small station wagon. She stopped doing it after a female tried to stand up and broke the back window. We decided just to use our van.

As we took Posey out of the car, both males were at the edge of their yard, eagerly watching. Posey saw them right away, and stood up very tall. Since we hadn’t planned to come home with a llama, we didn’t have a second fenced area. We tied Posey to a tree.

Posey didn’t like being tied up. She ran around and around, lunging to the end of her rope. Like the males, she learned very quickly, and within five minutes she knew how far she could run. Then it seemed less that she was alarmed, and more that she was just frisky. After a while she settled down.

“We’ll take you out to dinner to celebrate your new llama,” offered the friends who had been llama-sitting while we were away. I wanted to stay home with Posey, but everyone else went out to eat.

It was still warm after the hot day. I sat on the steps of the trailer, watching Posey. What a lovely creature she was, grazing there, and what a turn our lives were taking. A year ago we had been waiting for our home in California to sell, hoping that the third would-be sale wouldn’t fall through as the others had, hoping that we would be able to buy this land in Oregon. Now I was not only a country homesteader, but a genuine llama breeder as well.

Astonishing, wonderful–and also puzzling. Kelly and I had made a series of decisions over the years, as anyone does, about where to live, what work to do. Somehow our decisions had led to this moment. Here I sat, enjoying the evening, feeling the peacefulness of being a solitary human surrounded by land, trees, and animals. I was a contented little speck in the panorama of mountains, surprised at how naturally my city-bred self had come to love this solitude.

Living with llamas was good for my maternal impulses. I enjoyed being a mother hen, or rather a mama llama.

My newest charge was grazing a little, watching the other llamas, watching me. A thunderstorm was building, far to the east. As the noise of the thunderbolts increased, Posey began running around again.

I went down by her tree and took her rope in my hand, then very slowly moved toward her. She trembled a little as I approached, but as before, once I was close, she nuzzled me and seemed glad of the comfort. We had a long tete-a-tete, only broken when a loud thunderclap sent her scurrying.

The storm didn’t seem to bother Levi or Tumbleweed; they were just standing around. After several bright lightning flashes from the eastern horizon, Levi stared steadily in that direction.

I decided to put Posey in the llama yard and stake out the males. She couldn’t be in with them because we didn’t want her pregnant. It was unlikely that she could be yet, or that these young males could do the job, but we didn’t want to risk it.

Levi was easy to catch, but Tumbleweed eluded me. He could run faster than I, and he wasn’t in the mood to be caught. I tried maneuvering him between Levi and the fence, a trick which often worked, but Tumble wasn’t having any. Frustrated, I gave up until the others returned.

The males liked being staked out, so long as they had good grazing around. We kept them staked for three days, while we fenced another area, making sure that somebody was home all that time. The llamas wouldn’t be able to run away from any dogs that came along, and we knew that dogs could be dangerous. As it happened, an unfamiliar dog did wander in. The males watched it intently; it didn’t get as far as Posey’s field. It was old and gentle, and left when our dogs barked.

We used six-foot field fencing for the new, larger llama field, even though many llama owners put up fences of four feet. They probably didn’t have four feet of snow or drifts seven feet high. The wire mesh of the fence kept out a porcupine that came by, and we were glad. Our llamas liked to investigate strange new things by putting their noses close and sniffing.

Dan phoned the day after we brought Posey home, to hear how she was doing. After I filled him in, I asked him about something Kelly had noticed. Posey seemed nervous around our dogs. The funny thing was that she was more upset by lazy old Martha than by lively young Cider.

“She has good reason to be watchful around dogs,” said Dan. “When she was just a few months old, some dogs from the neighborhood got into the llama pasture. They chased her and another young one very roughly. They didn’t hurt Posey, just scared her–but they injured the other little one so badly that we had to put it down.”

“Do you know what the dogs looked like?”

“I didn’t see them, but I’d guess from Posey’s behavior that they looked something like your old dog. She’ll settle down, though, don’t worry. After that incident, we moved her up to Tom and Toni’s place. They have a dog up there, and after Posey had seen it a few times, she was fine with it. These dogs of yours may be the first ones she’s seen since then. She’s smart, she’ll learn fast that it’s okay.”

Dan was right; soon Posey became accustomed to our dogs. She reversed her reaction to them, becoming indifferent to old Martha but vigilant toward Cider’s exuberant movements. She and Cider sometimes sniffed noses through the fence.

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