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On a chilly afternoon late in the fall, we staked out the three males on the slope below the females’ field. There was much clucking and tail movement as we tied them up, but soon the males ignored Posey and Lil Bit. They settled down to the serious business of eating.

Kelly went off to town, and I did outdoor chores, twice untangling Whiskers when he wrapped his lead rope around a small tree. I harvested the last of the Jerusalem artichokes and put the garden to bed for the winter. I spread manure from the females’ field on the garden. The gate latch into their field was a little awkward, and I was careful to make sure it caught.

I went back for more manure. After latching the gate I rubbed Lil Bit’s neck. “You’re so approachable,” I told her, “so easy to catch. Don’t you like it when I scratch your neck hard?” She stretched her neck out luxuriously.

I looked up and saw that Posey was browsing just outside the gate. Somehow it had swung open. I heard myself say, “Oh, no.”

I tied Lil Bit up, and sat down, hoping–but not really expecting–that Posey might just wander back in. My heart was pounding. I was mad at myself for not being more careful. I took several deep breaths and thought about what I could do. I tried not to think about the story I had read about two llamas that were lost for a couple of weeks. That was from a pack trip, not their own home–and they had eventually turned up.

Soon Posey wandered away from the gate. I could imagine her walking back into the field after exploring the big world for a while, so I put a bucket with some grain just inside the gate, where it might arouse her curiosity.

Posey was having a good time browsing and wandering among the three tied-up males. I decided I would break it up if they tried to breed, but it didn’t advance beyond flirtation. After the first couple of minutes, I decided that Posey wasn’t about to take off into the rapidly approaching sunset.

After following her around for half an hour, never getting close, I had to admit that I had no idea how to catch her. My pockets were stuffed with grain, and I had a lead rope around my waist, but Posey wasn’t letting me anywhere near her. I had never lassoed anything in my life.

It was time for some help. Maybe I could find a neighbor at home, but I preferred Kelly. Darkness was only a couple of hours away, and I didn’t like the idea of Posey loose in the dark. I ran into the trailer, and phoned the place where Kelly was planning to jam with the High Street Boogie Band. He wasn’t expected there for a while yet, but the guitarist promised to send him home if I hadn’t called back.

I grabbed a camera and a roll of film before running back out. Posey was grazing midway between the trailer and the other llamas, and she watched me while I sat on the ground and loaded the camera.

We were each keeping an eye on the other. “Hey Posey, am I part of your herd?” I asked.

She began roaming further afield, gradually making her way up toward the ridge, occasionally checking to make sure I was nearby. I stayed back; I didn’t want my presence encouraging her to go farther.

For the first time she moved out of sight of the other llamas, following a deer trail that led out to a rocky point. She seemed to be enjoying her outing. Now that I had the camera in my hand, I was enjoying myself a little more too. I photographed her just as she was silhouetted against a bend in the path. She disappeared from my sight, and I felt nervous again.

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