Doll Tor’s Diary – 02-08-07
Well, we’re back! Our holiday away from Old King Street Farm was an attempt to see if Callanish, Maes Howe and I could become pregnant. Hmmmm, baby llamas at the farm next year? We heard our people saying our three months away coincided with the worst May, June, and July weather in Britain ever, but the day we came back everything perked up. On Tuesday when we arrived home, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the mower was mowing, and Ringsbury and the boys came rushing to greet us. Everything is lovely here in glorious, green Herefordshire.
Let me tell you all about the adventures we’ve been having…
In early May, Callanish, Maes Howe and I were told we were off to Northamptonshire for a spell. We were going to meet some male llamas who were going to breed with us. Well, some of us were keener on the idea than others, but it might be nice to have a baby.
Our people drove us in our trailer up to our holiday home. The first night we were there, we were each put in a paddock with a male llama. Callanish tells me she wasn’t very happy and tried to run away at first, but she soon stopped and lay down and mated with Crofter. She was crushed up against the fence and had her ear folded in half. Our people cradled her head and put her ear back. (Can’t really see what the fuss was all about – Callanish has the floppiest ears and can’t hold them upright anyway).
Maes Howe surprised everyone by being quite willing to mate with Julio, and after ten minutes with Julio draped over her back and the two of them wandering around, she lay down and they mated. She tells me Julio has a funny face and puffs out his cheeks a lot. Maes Howe was really quite accepting of Julio and thought it best to get things over with. In fact the most interesting thing that happened was when the farm dog, Huey, walked right past her nose just as she was dropping off. Our people were with Maes Howe at the time and learning about how we llamas mate. They were shown some of the things that can be done to help the process along, like keeping the girl’s tail out of the way and maneuvering the boy to be right on target.
Then it was my turn. Now, not even my best friends would call me a gentle soul. I think of myself as an independent spirit. So when Isaac and I were lobbed into a paddock together with the hope we’d ‘just get on with it’ (I ask you!), I was having none of it. I hated Isaac and yet he still chased me all over the field. Round and round we went, crashing through the field shelter and half demolishing its back wall. I DID lie down with Isaac on me, but I had my head turned and spat loads of green spit and bile all over him. Excellent! He, of course, spat at me – hardly the way to win a girl’s heart. He was very uncouth.
So that was our first night. The next morning our people came to see we were all right and to say goodbye for three months. Callanish and Maes Howe stayed with their boyfriends and I stayed with horrid Isaac for three nights, then we three girls were all re-united for a spell. About a week later we all went back to our boyfriends and horrid Isaac for a couple of days, then every three weeks we were re-introduced to the males.
The way this works is that if we lie down with the male, we are probably not pregnant, but that if we spit him off, we probably are. Now, I freely admit that in my case it must be pretty hard to tell seeing as I spit off anything. Well, from early on, Maes Howe was consistently spitting off Julio, so they didn’t mate after her second pairing with him. Callanish was a bit slower, but she did eventually start to spit at Crofter. It was generally agreed there was a personality clash between Isaac and me, so after a few weeks I mated with Crofter instead. This was more successful. Do you know, I MIGHT be pregnant!! On the right are a couple of pictures of me mating with Crofter. I thought Isaac would put me right off boys, but it was just that I didn’t understand what to do. So a clever plan was hatched. Whilst Callanish and Crofter were mating I was put in the same paddock to see if I’d get the hang of it. Oh, I SEE, I said when I saw those two and I started nuzzling Crofter. Well, I just kushed right next to them and waited my turn! Bingo!!
Now here again, is one of the tricky things about lady llamas – how can you tell when they ARE pregnant. People are of different opinions about how to test us, or whether it’s worth it – and there are apparently so many tales of ‘is she or isn’t she’ proving wrong that some llama breeders think the best way to test is to see if we spit at the boy. We female llamas are what is called ‘induced ovulators’. This means that after we mate we come into season and release an egg. So for this reason, mating two or three times means we are more likely to become pregnant. Then the thing to do is to try and tie this in with our natural cycle and to mate us every 3 weeks.
So, on Tuesday our people turned up in the first sunshine we’d seen in three months. We were pleased to see them and after we’d said goodbye to Mary and David – our foster people for the last three months, we were off in the trailer and back home again.
The llama reunion was wonderful – huge amounts of snorting over the gate before we were un-haltered and off we went, prancing round our lovely paddock on the slope with the pretty stream running through it. Everyone was pleased to see us, and we were pleased to see them.
Apparently it’s not just been we three older white llamas who have been mating. Two weeks ago Long Meg went off to see a possible mate called Hugo. But she didn’t like him – absolutely hated him as far as I can make out. But Hugo has another stud male on his farm called Gilbert. He is seriously old – 22 years old!!! And it was thought he was past it. Well, he summoned one last burst of energy and mated Long Meg three times. People were apparently saying ‘didn’t know the old boy had it in him’. Now there are certainly no guarantees with this OLD MAN, but you never know…
And talking of Old Men, we have a visitor here at the farm. He is called Hoggle and is 18 years old. These are seriously old llamas. He is mating with Tenbury Wells, so every few days she is removed from the herd and put in the yard with Hoggle. They’ve mated three times. And for quite a long time too. Yesterday’s mating went on for ages – and she didn’t reject him at all, so she is probably ready to become pregnant.
We’ll continue to keep you posted about llama pregnancies and whether there are any further developments. Llama babies at Old King Street Farm, eh? Sounds good to me!