Llama T-Shirts


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Late in April Kelly saw Posey’s belly heaving. “The baby must be dancing in there,” he reported to me.

Sometimes I crawled around in Posey’s pasture, trying to see her teats. Posey looked at me, turning so she could watch what I was doing. That made it impossible for me to see her teats. Even when she didn’t face me, her wool and the curve of her abdomen made it difficult to see her teats at all. When I did glimpse them, they looked like tiny Hershey’s kisses.

Spring and early summer went by. When July came, we knew that the birth had to be soon, as her last breeding the summer before had been late in July. Then someone told me about a first-time mother at his ranch that took over a year. I hoped Posey wouldn’t follow that example.

Posey was looking bigger in circumference, and her teats were finally enlarged. We moved her into the small llama yard we could watch from the house. She and Lil Bit could still touch noses through a gate, so we didn’t think she would be lonely. Kelly said, “Let’s review those articles about birth.” We quizzed each other on what to do, and made sure that at least one of us was home in the daytime. We knew that most llama babies were born during daylight hours, often before noon. It was relatively rare for a llama to need help.

I thought it would be nice if Posey gave birth on my father’s birthday, July 11, but she didn’t. Friday the 13th came and went without the baby. The following Tuesday, forty-five young children came to see the llamas. She didn’t deliver then either.

The next Friday she did seem a little restless. She would sit in one part of her yard, then a few minutes later I would see her in another spot. I looked at her rear, and the vulva was a little longer. But by the time I noticed these changes, it was already past two in the afternoon.

“It’ll be tomorrow,” I predicted to Kelly. He was finishing an animation project and needed to work in his studio. I had been writing at my computer, and I went back to it, checking Posey every few minutes.

Then I thought, “This is ridiculous. I’ve been watching Posey so closely for weeks, and now that she’s showing new signs, I’m sitting where I can’t see her!” I went out to do some gardening near Posey.

It was a warm, sunny day, with a light breeze, much nicer than the heat wave of the previous week. I weeded the lettuce and beets, taking armloads of weeds to different llamas. Then I started in on the asparagus bed. Cider was soaking up the sun in the dusty driveway. Posey was just sitting by the fence, and she wasn’t so restless. It was nice to be outside, and the garden certainly needed the work.

I heard a hissing. Kelly had killed a rattlesnake near our house the previous summer, and I immediately thought this was another one. The sound seemed to be coming from the bushes by the driveway, close to Cider and Posey. Both animals seemed to have noticed: Posey’s ears were back, and Cider picked her head up.

“Just what we need,” I grumbled to myself. I grabbed an old piece of barn wood from a stack, looked around me, and cautiously started up the road, prepared to be a heroine. The sound came again–from Posey. I threw aside the board and ran to look at her rear. A foot was showing.

I ran up the driveway toward Kelly’s film studio, calling, “Kelly! Kelly! Feet! Feet!”

A nose and mouth were out and breathing noisily, but I was wrong about the feet. Only one was out. We knew that after some amount of time, if the second one didn’t come, someone would have to scrub up and reach inside Posey to guide the leg out. We didn’t know exactly how long to wait before this would become necessary. After five minutes, I ran inside and called our vet’s office. Just as I was explaining to the assistant, Kelly called, “Here’s the other foot.”

“It’s okay now, bye,” I said.

With both feet and the nose out, our biggest fears were gone. Kelly and I hugged and watched. Posey wailed, not a rattlesnake now, just a complaint. All our other llamas were paying attention.

The cria’s head, neck, and front legs were out, and they were mostly white. Posey had been sitting down; now she stood up and walked around. She sniffed my tee-shirt, an orange one with an applique flower which she often liked to sniff.

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