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One cold winter afternoon, we caught Shadow as usual. As I led him past Posey, I said, “Say goodbye to your mama. It’s weaning time.” We took him right down to the field where Romeo, Poco, and Levi lived. I removed Shadow’s halter and lead rope.

The three adult llamas surged toward him. Romeo looked like he might attack. Shadow’s tail was flipped all the way over, in the submissive mode. There was a general confusion of moving bodies.

Was Poco trying to breed Shadow? “Poco, you’ll breed anything,” I said, remembering the time we found him orgling on top of Dorrie, our Komondor guard dog who lived with the llamas.

But this time he seemed intent on running Shadow off. The weanling scurried around the field, Poco circling close behind. When they passed Romeo, the big gelding put his ears back but he didn’t join the chase. Before we gelded him, he was more of a fighter; I wouldn’t have put a weanling in with him. For the same reason, we weren’t putting Shadow in the field that Whiskers and Tumbleweed were sharing. Whiskers was very territorial. It seemed to us that generally the males we used for breeding tended to be more territorial.

Levi followed Poco and Shadow in another circuit of the steeply sloping field. When they ran past us, Levi was breathing heavily. Shadow went in the barn, and I heard a few soft hums from him to his mother. Posey was watching and listening at her fence line. But there was no time to linger, as Levi was at his heels.

The chase suddenly stopped, and Shadow sniffed under the other males. Was he trying to nurse, or was he just trying to figure them out? Romeo kicked out, as he would to keep a dog away. Levi moved away. Poco went down on his front knees. None of them wanted Shadow nosing around.

The young weanling ran along the fence, looking for a way out. Romeo followed behind, panting. “I bet they’ll be playing with him in a few days,” I said. “It looks like it’s going to work out fine.”

It was snowing lightly, and the wind was picking up. We went in and had a cup of tea.
From the house, we caught glimpses of Poco chasing Shadow around the fence perimeter. A few minutes later, Shadow was exploring the fence line alone. Poco had gone back to his hay.

We checked on Shadow several times during the afternoon. Once he had green spit all over his head. After dark, the three adult males were sitting along the fence, and Shadow was pacing past them. He came up to me, as I stood on the other side of the fence, and he sniffed my face and hair. Then he continued pacing the fence, humming.

Posey could see her son from two places in her field–on top of a manure pile outside the barn door and from up by our house. She alternated spots. As a gusty wind blew her wool, she stood looking at him, like a mother watching her little one off to the first day of kindergarten. After a while, she pawed a dry spot on the ground, lay down, and had a luxurious roll.

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