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Lil Bit had a girl. Black and brown, not a speck of white, just like Shadow. And just like him, she didn’t start nursing right away. We left the mother and baby alone for hours. Then, as our anxiety about depriving the baby of colostrum increased, I had a go at milking out Lil. She kicked the cup out of my hand. I resumed milking; at least Lil wasn’t nearly as high strung as Posey. Lil kicked the cup again, and some dirt got into the milk. We strained it and added some colostrum of Posey’s we had put in the freezer when Shadow wasn’t nursing. Kelly gave this baby a bottle, which she took readily enough.

The next day, another llama owner came over. Linda Rodgers was just starting her own herd. Her enthusiasm for llamas, and her interest in observing exactly what was going on, made her good company. Neither Kelly nor I were getting as stressed out as we had with Shadow, but we were both comforted by Linda’s presence.

We passed the day milking, giving the baby occasional bottles, and chatting. The baby kept nosing around under her mother. “She’ll get it pretty soon,” I predicted.

But by the next morning the little one still wasn’t nursing. We repeated our routines, but didn’t spend so much time in the barn. That evening we squirted Lil’s teats to be sure they were open and went for a walk with the dogs. When we got back, I looked out a window and saw Lil standing with ears turned to listen behind her. All I could see of the baby was her four feet, on the other side of Lil. She was standing perfectly still. I watched for a few seconds, then called Kelly. “She hasn’t moved,” I said. “I bet she’s finding it.” Kelly went to another window, and from there it looked even more like she was in the right place. The baby stepped away, licking her lips. Then she ran madly around the yard, kicking her heels high in a frenzy of joy. Nursing had begun.

We liked this baby a lot. We liked her soft, thick wool, her friendliness, the bit of gray color on her neck, her lovely build. I thought that the offspring of Lil and Levi should have a name beginning with L, and I came up with “Lallapaloosa.”

“It’s a slang word I remember my father using to mean something special,” I explained to Kelly.

“I remember hearing it too. Seems like it would be even better for an appaloosa,” he said.
“Well, her father is and that’s close enough for me. Besides, I bet we’ll call her `Lally’ most of the time.”

“Okay. Say, this one’s almost a giraffe already. We’re not getting anywhere with that plan to breed small llamas.”

“You know, I really don’t care. I’m not so intimidated by size any more. What I care about is temperament, intelligence, and soundness, and it’s nice if their wool is usable for spinning.”

“I want to breed for a look that stands out too,” Kelly said. “But I don’t much care about size either. It was nice to have a focus but it’s fine to just let go of it now. By the way, isn’t it odd that we’ve had two babies that didn’t nurse?”

“Yea, I guess it’s not all that common. But you know, I’m actually glad that it happened again and was so much easier.”

I had a theory about why it had happened and why it was easier. About a year after we’d had the problem with Shadow, I had gone into Reichian therapy, which involved a lot of body work. As my therapist worked on my muscles, I remembered events and emotions from throughout my life. It seemed sometimes that there was hardly an inch of my body that didn’t hold memories.

As was typical of babies born in the 1940s, I was bottle-fed. My mother’s milk didn’t come in, and after a few days of half-hearted trying, they put me on a bottle. I suspected now that there was a memory of this, somewhere in me, that had contributed to my anxiety when Shadow didn’t nurse. Kelly hadn’t shared that anxiety, and he had been breast-fed. Of course, not everyone who had been bottle-fed would have reacted as I did. We are all unique. This problem with Lil’s baby had shown me that I had mostly overcome that extreme tension. I felt healed and very grateful.

My gratitude extended back in time to those difficult four days with Shadow. I could honestly say that I was glad they had happened. Could it be that life was so arranged that each of us was given opportunities to overcome whatever we needed to? If so, that might be why we had had two babies who didn’t nurse when the statistical odds of that were slight.

“And enough already. Let’s have some easy babies!” I said to Kelly.

We got them. Posey’s fourth baby came a few weeks later. The little girl was out within ten minutes of first showing. Her tiny mouth was going immediately and she was on the teats within an hour and a half. And what a beauty! Her body was apricot in color, a warmer, lighter shade than Posey’s, with gray and black outlining her head and feet. Her ears were outlined in white. We named her Renaissance, in honor of an old friend named Rene who had just died.

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