Llama T-Shirts


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The baby was dangling half-way out of Posey’s rear. I suddenly understood the expression llama breeders use for birth, “hitting the ground.” Most llama births occurred with the mother standing, and the baby would indeed hit the ground. But Posey sat down–on the baby’s neck. Kelly moved the long neck out from under Posey’s back leg, and we put a halter on her in case we needed it.

I put a beach towel under her rear. If we could keep the umbilical cord clean till we put the iodine on, so much the better. I sat down behind Posey.

She was wailing again. The half-born cria was pawing the ground with its front legs. More slippery body emerged, and suddenly there it all was. The first llama born at Juniper Ridge Ranch, breathing and wet, mostly white with a few little black spots, and a black tail with a white tip. I savored the moment, without knowing whether the newborn was male or female. I felt very peaceful.

Then I looked. There was a small penis. “It’s a boy,” I said.

Kelly was busy photographing. “Boy, girl, whatever, isn’t it wonderful!” he said.

The newborn flailed around as we dipped the end of the umbilical cord in a little container of iodine, to protect against tetanus and infection. Kelly milked a little out of each of Posey’s four teats, just to be sure the milk was flowing. Posey complained with a whine, but she let him do it.

The baby sat and rested for a while. Then he stood up, spreading his legs way out for balance. Once up, he stayed in the same position for quite a while. His first steps were wobbly. “Instant toddler,” Kelly said.

Posey passed the afterbirth. I put it in a bucket, to be buried later. Kelly gave the cria a selenium injection and then weighed himself and the newborn. The bathroom scale was jiggling, but the little one weighed around twenty-five pounds. Posey didn’t like her baby being handled, and she stayed close by, making clicking noises and threatening to spit. As soon as we were done, we left them alone together, and they sat down for a quiet spell.

The newborn was soon nursing. Kelly checked, and the little fellow was definitely getting milk from all four teats. When we came back to check on the llamas later, he wasn’t wobbly on his feet anymore. He was prancing around.

“With that fluffy white wool, he looks like a dancing cloud,” Kelly said. “Hey, how about that for a name?”

“Dancing Cloud?” I thought for a minute. “Yes, that suits him.”

“What a fantastic mother Posey is,” Kelly said. “She hasn’t been two feet away from that baby since he was born.”

“She’s so tender with him,” I said. “I love how she keeps sniffing him, and how she steps between him and us, to protect him.”

“When he was walking all around her, before he started nursing, did you notice how she stood right where it would be easiest for him to nurse?”

“Yes. It’s interesting that he’s mostly white.”

“Who’d have thought it? A brown mother, a black father, and a white result. Tell me–are you disappointed that the baby is a male?”

“A little bit,” I said. “But it’s in a different part of my mind, the budget department or something. How do you feel?”

“Pretty much the same. He’s a completely satisfying little creature. It’ll be nice if the next baby is a female.”

“You know, right now, the way I feel, I’d like a herd of about twenty-five breeding females. I’m not even thinking about the money. It’s just such fun.”

Kelly smiled. “I’m glad we’re living with llamas,” he said.

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