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We weren’t sure if one breeding would have settled Posey, so we tried again. Posey sat down for Whiskers without our help. But she didn’t lift her tail. We tried to lift it. Whiskers seemed frustrated: he kept getting off Posey, then back on. Sometimes he mounted her backwards and sat down on her shoulders.

“Next time let’s tie a string around her tail,” Kelly suggested. “Then we can pull the tail aside just when Whiskers sits down.”

I objected. “If llamas have been in existence for all these years, they must manage to perpetuate the species without strings attached.”

Kelly convinced me that it would be worth trying. “After all, remember the breeder who put her llama’s tail into a French braid? And there was that very woolly llama who never got pregnant until she was sheared. We’re just helping nature.”

We tried the string technique the next day, and it worked fine. Posey and Whiskers had a good breeding session. We did it another day, also with good results. The llamas were getting the hang of it, but when we tried without the string, that long tail of Posey’s was in the way again.

We had another problem. Whenever we brought the two younger males back in with Whiskers after he had been breeding, he was one aggressive llama. He chased them around vigorously, claiming the territory as his. The males had always fought, but this was too much.

We put Posey and Lil Bit into their new pasture, separate from their older, smaller one. We put Whiskers in there by himself for the breeding season.

So Posey had been bred. Was she pregnant?

Pregnancy tests had become available for llamas just the previous year. You had to wait at least three weeks after breeding. Then you nicked the female’s ear and mailed off some of the blood in a little plastic container. After the requisite three weeks, we caught Posey, tied her up, and put alcohol on her ears. I made several cuts, but all we got was a drop or two. Kelly felt sick at messing up her ears. I was determined, buoyed up by my desire to learn all about llama care.

We obviously didn’t have the technique down. I phoned a friend, and she gave me more detailed instructions. We went back out, but by then I couldn’t bring myself to slice up Posey. Kelly made the cut. Same thing: not enough blood.

“This is ridiculous,” Kelly said. “Let’s try field-checking. At least it won’t cause any pain.” If a female who had been bred didn’t let a male mount her, it often meant she was pregnant.

We put Posey in with Whiskers. She was most unwilling to enter his field, balking at every step. “Oh good,” I said, “maybe that means she’s pregnant.”

Whiskers tried to mount Posey as soon as he could. She stood looking around, as if there weren’t the weight of a male llama on her hindquarters. But after a minute, she sat down. Whiskers went to work.

“Darn it!” I exploded. “I thought llama breeding was easy!”

“How reliable is this check-breeding business?” Kelly asked me.

“I think it’s pretty accurate. A lot of breeders use it. But here we are well into the summer, and we don’t know if this girl is pregnant.” I turned to Whiskers. “If you haven’t done the job, fellow, we’ll try Tumbleweed. How would you like that?” I knew he’d hate it.

We had to wait another three weeks before we could try the blood test. Neither one of us was willing to slice ears again, so our vet came by and drew blood.

We sent it off in the mail and I began going to the post office with a sense of anticipation. At last it was there–the envelope from Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

I took the mail out to the car. My heart was pounding. I opened the envelope. “Well, hooray!” I said out loud. “Posey, you’re pregnant!” Llama breeding was easy.

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