Voices From the Farm: Llama Antics

1999 – continued

After returning from Las Vegas and celebrating Christmas with the family in 1998, it was time to settle into a very long, cold, snowy winter.

I was much appreciated by the myriad birds flocking to our feeders. We fed hundreds of birds, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Juncos, Goldfinches, 4 types of Woodpeckers, Red Finches, Blue Jays, Tree Sparrows, and Cardinals. On occasion several Ring Neck Pheasants would also visit us.

A dozen years earlier we were visited one winter by a Varied Thrush, a resident of the Pacific Northwest, which blew in on a snowstorm about Christmas time, and stayed with us, visiting our feeders daily, until early the following March. I contacted the “Birders’ Hotline” in Rochester, MN, and birders came from many areas to see this rare bird; one coming from as far away as Duluth, MN.

At the start of February we were celebrating birthdays for the whole family; except me, whose birthday comes in September. Jerry and Lisa shared a January 12 birthday and Sean’s is February 3. With the severe winter and travel treacherous, we decided one birthday celebration would fit all this year!

A rainy spring slowed construction on the house addition. I think we had the longest construction loan in history! But, finally, things got underway and in June the project was pretty well done. Then the renovation of the old part of the house began.

For quite awhile, there was just a path through the kitchen, as it and the sun room were both full of stuff from the two small rooms where we took out a wall and made one large room. At that point we had a choice of sitting at the kitchen table or going to bed. At last, the new large room was essentially complete, except for replacing the double doors leading to the deck. The suppliers had sent the wrong doors… twice!

The electrical contractor was just in the process of digging the trenches to bring in the underground wiring when he blew up the motor on the trencher. Several days passed and he hadn’t been back, and the carpenters could not finish siding the front of the house until he returned and moved the present electric wires. Which, you may have guessed, go up the aforesaid front of the house.

So, it was back on the phone to whine, cry, plead, beg, etc., and we hadn’t even started on the kitchen yet, which was looking like it would not happen until early next year!

The carpenters were amazed one day when the flock of 160 sheep and the llama were grazing the farthest pasture, next to the highway. A passing dump truck suddenly backfired, and Frisco instantly rounded up the entire flock, brought them in on the double, and herded them into a corner near the buildings where they would be safe.

Frisco’s guarding was surpassing my fondest hopes! In truth, at times it was almost over-kill. One day shortly after the lambing was over, and the new lambs were enjoying the sunshine on the south side of the barn, Frisco suddenly went into action, rounded them all up and put them in the barn.

I had no idea why he did this, except that he had been standing on top of the manure pile in the upper barnyard, staring past the end of the windbreak and listening intently. The lambs were not happy about being put in the barn, and kept trying to come out and lay in the sun again. Frisco would not allow it and kept putting them back in the barn.

Finally, by mid-afternoon I’d had enough of this, and threatened to whack him with the heavy manger broom so he would leave the lambs alone. He was not pleased with this turn of events, laid his ears back, and tried to out maneuver me, but he finally gave up. I never knew what precipitated this behavior, but apparently Frisco was sure there was impending danger!

As though all the confusion of construction and remodeling was not enough, we undertook building a clean water diversion to route rain water away from the barn yard. This was quite a process, as it entailed building a 4-foot high berm above the barnyard to carry the water around the barn, through a sediment control basin, then underground beneath the driveway, to empty into the pasture below. The project was done through the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service). and the EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) plan.

Sheba and Frisco had done a remarkable job of safe guarding the sheep all year. Sheba had the night shift, keeping watch from atop the big round hay bales in winter when she was not out chasing coyotes, and Frisco had the day shift all through the grazing season when he was with the sheep on pasture.

Lamb sales were restricted to only the 45 feeder lambs, 8 ram lambs, one 2-year old ram, and a 3-year old ram. We retained all the ewe lambs this year to add to our ewe flock, since we sold all the ewe lambs the previous year.

I have to share this “flash back” from our Family Reunion Cruise in 1998:

I took a couple pills daily to allay arthritis symptoms. One day, we had just returned to our quarters after attending some sort of entertainment, and I decided I should take my pills. So I tossed a couple pills in my mouth, reached for the water carafe to wash them down, only to find the room steward had been there, emptied the water, and filled the carafe with fresh ice… no water. One of the pills was a very chalky large pill and it was dissolving into a powdery mess in my mouth.

My next thought was to get water from the bathroom. Unfortunately, Sean had just gone in the bathroom and locked the door. So, I pounded on the door and tried to tell him I need to get some water, but when I tried to talk the powder from the dissolved pill came out of my mouth in a cloud of puffs!

Lisa, who had been observing this scene, was by now in hysterics, laughing uncontrollably, so she couldn’t talk either. Sean, in the bathroom, said, “What’s going on? Am I gonna have to come out there?” Whereupon, I sent out more puffs of powder and Lisa laughed even harder! Memories are made of this sort of thing!

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1 comment to Voices From the Farm: Llama Antics

  • Wow, I too would be surprised to see Frisco bringing the flock home. Aren’t animals amazing? I bet when your home was finally finished, that you truly enjoyed it- doesn’t anticipation make everything better? Funny about the “puffs” coming out of your mouth- that darn Lisa laughing.

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