Llama T-Shirts


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One wintry day, our veterinarian came out on a farm call. The llamas were due for worming and inoculating. We had meant to do it in the fall, but kept putting it off until we decided whether to geld Levi.

Gelding was said to make a male llama more tractable, and since large Levi didn’t have a place in our breeding plans, we thought about it. But he was such a fine fellow that we decided we might change our minds about breeding. He was to remain intact.

Our vet was Howdy Miller, a man with a natural warmth toward both humans and animals. I wanted a vet who was comfortable with emotion–if he was there when our old dog Martha died, I wanted to be able to cry without embarrassment. With Howdy, I knew I could.

Kelly held Levi while Howdy put the worming medicine, a paste, in Levi’s mouth. I kept the other llamas from crowding around. Levi struggled, and as I watched, I felt my physical uncertainty. What good was Phi Beta Kappa now? If Levi were really carrying on, I’d be scared of being hurt. I was embarrassed about it, but I had to admit I was intimidated.

Tumbleweed’s curiosity brought him closer. Since they were almost finished with Levi, I nabbed Tumble. Usually I could hold on, but this time he really didn’t want to be caught. He bolted. I kept my arms around his neck until he darted out the door, but I wasn’t dedicated enough to let myself be scraped against the side of the doorway.

So my physical skills had again been inadequate. But, paradoxically, I felt better. I knew that I could think of other ways to do things. We could build or buy a restraining chute. Sure, there might be an emergency sometime where I would be less skilled than I would want to be, but the number of times that would happen would probably be small. And I would learn from each one. I didn’t have to be Superwoman. I’d just be myself, and that would be good enough.

Whiskers came up near me, and I caught him. He didn’t resist. When Howdy called for Whiskers, I had him ready.

Howdy demonstrated giving shots, but I didn’t absorb much. Many llama breeders did their own worming and inoculating. Later for all that. I was learning step by step, and if the steps were small, so be it. They were steps.

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