Silbury's Diary - 12-03-08
As is well known to all admirers of the llama, we're not the biggest
fans of being touched. But there are ways and means of persuading us to
be petted, and the best of these is to do what our new best friends
Gavin and Sian did. They came to stay in one of our peoples' holiday
cottages last month and asked if we could show them the delights of
But long before the Saturday llama trek, our mates were popping up in
the field, in our yard, peering through the hedge and over the fence at
us. And they never tried to grab a handful of our fibre - splendid
people! Instead there was lots of sitting in chairs in the yard
drinking tea (the two-legs) and lying down next to the manger chewing
the cud (llamas), and this is the way it should be. Everyone tells us
how relaxing we are, and I think this is because we're pretty relaxed
ourselves. In fact, the more people DON'T touch us, the closer we'll
stand to them. Strange isn't it, but if there's no attempts to stroke
us for fifteen minutes or so, sure as eggs is eggs, we'll stand closer
and closer to the two-legs until they simply can't resist stroking our
necks. And this is okay. You've passed the test, and we can trust you,
so have a gentle stroke of our lovely fibre, free and gratis.
Llamas can count and can recognize people. So we know who our own
two-legs are. But sometimes there will be more people present, and this
normally means 'something is going to happen' - say, they just want to
show us off (yawn, yawn, yawn), or we're going for a trek (hurrah,
hurrah, hurrah), or the vet's going to give us our annual clostridial
jabs (spit, spit, spit). Now I accept the handling bit (which no
self-respecting llama truly likes), because I'm probably going out for a
walk, so when the mix was brought out I trotted into the pen with
several of the others. Long Meg and Tenbury Wells, the young girls,
decided to stay outside, and this means the moving rope was used to herd
them in. It's very simple - a long rope is tied to the end of the pen
and two-leg walks around the yard herding any 'strays' up. All pretty
good really as the delay means I get more mix, and that can't be bad.
So, all present and correct, and grooming taking place, everyone
settling down. We really are calm, especially when the backs of our
heads are gently massaged. Callanish has quite a strange far-away look
in her eyes when people rub her like this, but I think that could be
because she's not the brightest llama. Naturally enough, that's me - I
can always see two stages ahead, and understand that early action when
there's food around means I get more. The llamas that simply follow the
bucket don't get as much as me. And I'm still a sleek, svelte fellow,
unlike Avebury, Stenness and Brodgar who have hardly lost a pound over
the winter. We don't talk about weight in relation to our llama ladies
as they are pregnant, and when Maes Howe, Callanish or Doll Tor rolls,
you should see the bellies on them!
Four of us were due to walk this llama trek, and my old friend Ringsbury
was volunteered to stay behind with the girls. We had good weather and
set off through the orchard. A few handfuls of bramble leaves were
stowed in pockets for us to eat later. The village was it's usual busy
Saturday morning self, and we strode out with excitement. Brodgar
walked with our female person, then I walked with Sian to show her the
way, Our male person came next with Stenness and Avebury and Gavin
brought up the rear. Me? I love to know what's round the next corner
and look and strain to see what's there, but Avebury takes a gentler
amble, occasionally stopping to hum to himself.
On the common there were long puddles and ditches with water in and
Stenness performed his splendid party piece. He once won a competition
called a 'llama obstacle race' where a llama guides a two-leg round a
course with jumps, closely spaced poles, and a washing line - the sorts
of things that might be encountered on a llama trek. Stenness has never
really lost the knack of jumping and he can fairly sail over a brook in
one super leap. He did some great jumping, but we older, wiser heads
took our time and went around the water.
We stopped to have our pictures taken (don't we always?) and gently
ambled back homewards. Bramble leaves were the order of the day, and I
enjoyed eating a handful of them.
Back home after a lovely trek. We allowed our halters to be removed,
had some food, mooched around the yard with our new friends and just
felt very relaxed with them.
During the rest of the weekend, I was always aware I was being watched.
This is natural enough - I am a very handsome llama after all! I might
have just woken up and climbed to the top of my hill in the early
morning fog, and there was Gavin snapping away. Perhaps I was
contemplating the view across the field in the late afternoon, and Sian
would appear with her camera. There are some pictures of the weekend by
the side there, and I think they show off my profile rather well.
Oh, and by the way, you may have read my earlier comments on ugly
camels. Well straight after the weekend, our people went on holiday to
the land of the camel. You will see a couple of camels traveling in the
back of a pick-up truck. My cousins are not so stupid after all. If
it's a long journey, get the two-legs to drive you about in fine style. (Camels are still ugly though!).