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10: In a Hot Barn, Page 4
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By early evening, the cria had consumed two or three cups of milk, some from Posey and some from a formula the vet suggested. We let the two llamas out of the barn as the air cooled off. The other lady llamas were excited by their first look at the baby and followed him around the field.

It was odd. Dancing Cloud had stuck so close to Posey, but this one didn’t really pay her much attention. Hour by hour we watched the bond between the two llamas weaken.

When we came into the barn with the bottle, the baby knew what it was for. Before bedtime, we put mother and son back in the barn.

I woke in the night, and lay there thinking of a comment Kelly had made about wanting to sell all the llamas. I was pretty sure it was just a reaction to the stress, but it kept me awake for a while. I fell into an uneasy sleep, and woke at dawn to an acrid fire smell, with the air very hazy. Great, let’s have a forest fire as well. I turned on the radio and was relieved to hear that the fire was many miles away.

Since there weren’t any signs that the baby had nursed, I took Posey up to the chute and milked her. Luckily, she did have a lot of milk. I only took a little, wanting there to be plenty if the cria figured things out. But this morning he was paying even less attention to his mother. And she didn’t care when he wandered out of her sight while I was milking her in the chute.

Kelly was in town all morning, and out on a long llama walk with hikers in the afternoon. After the tension of these days, I was glad to be alone with the llamas, though I had a few moments of panic when the baby choked a little on a feeding. Then he opened and shut his mouth for about half an hour, naturally during the time the vet’s office was shut for lunch. Just as I was about to phone, the llama stopped doing it.

That evening, Kelly and I sat on the sofa together. “These have been the hardest four days of our marriage,” he said. We had been together for fifteen years.

“It’s sure been hard,” I said, “but I feel like I’ve learned so much, about llamas and about myself. I don’t like how upset I got, but hey, it’s all learning. And it makes me want to know a lot more about babies and birthing, to be better prepared in the future.”

“It makes me wonder what we’re doing. It’s not just the animals, it’s the tension between us,” he said. “If I’d known it would be this hard, I don’t know if I would have done it.”

I remembered feeling that way over some incidents with his teenage daughter, but for once I didn’t say anything. I just sat quietly. The forest fire wasn’t blowing smoke our way, the heat wave was beginning to break, and it was a lovely evening.

The next morning, I woke up and looked out the window at the head of our bed. Posey and her baby were standing by the barn. She was standing still, and he was leaning under her–nursing!

“Kelly, wake up! Look out the window right now!”

Kelly lifted his head and I saw his eyes open wider as he registered what he was seeing.

“Do you believe your eyes?” I asked.

“No! Yes! Isn’t that terrific!” he said. “I bet they started last night. When I went out there at bedtime to check on things, Posey was more protective.”

We watched for a while. I saw tears in Kelly’s eyes. We both felt so glad, for Posey, for the baby, for ourselves. “It wasn’t through our efforts that this happened!” Kelly said.

The baby nursed and nursed. His bonding with Posey became very close within just a few hours. Lying next to her, the red-brown color of his wool exactly matched hers. We named him Shadow.

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