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Then she was above me, at the top of the ridge.

Suddenly she took off and ran, a beautiful frisky run, all the way down the slope to the other llamas. I galloped after her, with perhaps a little less grace. She sniffed noses with Lil Bit, who was still tied up, and browsed near the males. I strolled around, noticing my cold toes and nose. The sun was down.

It was a relief to hear the sound of our truck. I filled Kelly in on Posey’s activities and filled his pockets up with grain. Posey was flirting with the males again. “She even sat down for Levi a while ago,” I told Kelly, “but he didn’t take advantage of it.”

“She seems ready to breed. We won’t have any trouble when the time comes,” he said.

Posey had noticed Kelly. He offered her a handful of grain but while she was thinking about it, Levi ate it. She came closer, and Kelly gave her several handfuls. He tried to grab her. She stepped back.

Then she was between her gate and a woodpile. Kelly and I came toward her, so that she either had to go into her field or go right past us. She glanced at us and walked into her field.

We later thought of a way I could have caught her by myself. “If you had taken one of the males into her field and tied him up, he might have acted as a lure,” Kelly said. “Or all three,” I added. We agreed that all three males tied up in her space would have been irresistible.

For weeks afterward, Posey watched the gate closely, but we had put two latches on it.

Winter came early. It began snowing in November, and it didn’t stop. The snow piled up higher and higher, until only the top two feet of the six-foot llama fences were visible. Kelly spent hours on the tractor, clearing our long driveway. After a while, he had to give up. We parked our vehicles and the tractor down by the paved road, about a quarter of a mile away, and got a lot of exercise bringing groceries in.

I worried about the llamas at first. They had no polypropylene underwear, no down comforters. But when I put my hand deep into Tumbleweed’s wool, I was comforted. It might not be down, but that wool was covering a warm body. Did the llamas get cold feet and noses? They tucked their feet under their bodies when they sat, and they didn’t really seem to mind the cold. I knew of other llama breeders who kept llamas in colder conditions than ours. Since llamas were native to the Andes up to fourteen thousand feet, they must be well adapted to cold.

They were quite a contrast to Cider. Our dog of African heritage growled when forced away from the wood stove.

When the snow finally let up, I dug a path in the males’ field. There was about three feet of snow, but the wind had blown it into high and low spots. The snow came up to my shoulder where I began digging the path. It was light enough that the digging was easy, and with a big snow shovel it went quickly. I dug a winding path out to a loop, so they could chase each other without having to back out. Tumbleweed came out to watch me. I talked to him when I had the breath. He looked at me.

We dubbed the path Llama Loop, and Kelly began putting some hay out next to it. We had cold but clear weather for weeks, and the llamas went out there much of every day. On a windy morning, with the temperature at nine degrees Fahrenheit, Whiskers sat out there for hours, eating hay, looking as comfortable as if it were spring.

We had built llama sheds with open doorways. Because we had heard that llamas didn’t like dark buildings, on the roofs we installed corrugated fiberglass roofing, alternating in strips with the metal, to let more light in the sheds during the day.

Our llamas seemed to like their sheds. From our bedroom window we could see the door to the females’ little shed. Posey would often sit in the doorway, looking out, and Lil Bit would be further in. The large juniper near their door combined with the wind patterns to provide Posey and Lil Bit with a patch of bare ground. Often they would walk around or sit out there.

The close quarters tried their patience at times. “The walls of the girls’ shed are covered with green globs,” Kelly reported one day after feeding. “Looks like they had a long spitting match.”

At other times, non-violent methods worked. We watched Lil Bit approach the shed when Posey was blocking the doorway. Posey stood with her ears back. It was clear she didn’t want to let Lil Bit into the shed, where the fresh hay had just been piled. Lil Bit stood by the door, her back to Posey, and inched her way in. She slowly crowded against Posey until both llamas were in the shed. Then she turned around for breakfast.

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