Brodgar’s Diary 17-09-12
Hello All. Stanton Drew, Pharaoh and I are back from the Newbury Show and are gently tucking in to best home-grown grass and clover as we relax after a long and tiring couple of days. I have to say, Pharaoh is not all that bad a llama. We naturally avoid each other back on the farm, but Newbury was declared neutral territory and we got on pretty well. Pharaoh had his own pen and Stan and I were next to him in ours. Pens are useful because they keep the two legs out.
You know the form at these things: llama beauty parade whilst a two-leg judge looks closely at us. He is interested in our overall look, our head and whether we have lovely bright eyes and if our jaws are correctly aligned. He wants to see that we can walk well – this is important because as llamas we work for our corn. As we take you two-legs trekking all the time we need to have good bone structure, sturdy legs and a strong, straight back. Pharaoh, as a herd sire, needs to look particularly good – he’ll be father to many young ‘uns over the years and it’s important our bone and muscle structure is correct – that we have proper conformation.
Newbury is a big show. It lasts two days. We told our people we’d like to go down early, and directed them to drive us there on the Friday afternoon. Getting everything sorted for an early Saturday start is no fun for anyone. We wouldn’t have enough food in us for cud chewing on the journey.
Great weather for the weekend, and after we arrived we were immediately keen to renew acquaintance with llamas we’d seen at the show in recent years. We went for a walk and then had hay and cereal before sitting down for a rest. People buzzed around like bees doing two-leg stuff – fetching hay nets, water buckets, and cereal dippers for our comfort, then putting up table displays covered in pictures of llamas (naturally) and various fibre items made from our lovely coats (again, naturally). People finished all they needed to do so we could settle down for the night. We told our people we’d like to sleep and that we’d see them in the morning.
Competition started early on Saturday with judging the female llamas. Little ones sometimes struggle at a show – it’s usually their first time away from home, but the young girls were very good. After all the female classes the boys were in the ring, and again, after the younger classes, the judge concluded by looking at the oldest males. These are the stud llamas – the llamas who sire all the babies on the llama farms throughout the country, and our very own Pharaoh competed in this class. He was brilliant and walked wonderfully well. Things can get pretty boisterous when you have a field full of big boys, but our chap rose above it and was calm and authoritatively nonchalant – I’ve taught him that! Pharaoh won his class and Stan and I were proud of the lad. He’d not been to a show for about five years so did extremely well.
Pharaoh took part in the male classes’ judging and our two-leg judge was pleased to award him first place in this, and then Pharaoh went on to be told he was Reserve Champion Llama at Newbury 2012. Pretty darned good, I thought – that hasn’t happened to Golden Valley Llamas at the National Show before. Well done, Pharaoh.
The next class was the one Stanton Drew and I were competing in. We always enter the gelding competition and our herd has always done well in this. Big Chief Ringsbury first won the gelding cup in 2005, and after four years he handed over the trophy to my bro Stenness for a couple of years. Last year I was national gelding champion – it really means working llama if you like. Sort of …’who has character, but is amenable to being handled, who is trustworthy with the general public’. I walked with a guest handler and showed him what to do – sometimes two-legs have difficulty walking in a straight line so I was gentle with him and guided him and we took circuits of the judging arena. Then, we stood still for the judge who looked me all over. Walking up and down the ring followed, and my helper told the judge I was an eight-year old who was sheared 15 months ago. I walked around again, then was called into first place where I was given a shiny silver cup (seen that before I thought) and a red rosette. Marvellous, and a seriously splendid day for the Golden Valley Llamas herd.
The rest of the day took the form of us standing around and being stroked by many, many two-legs whilst our people talked about us. They love us so much they can’t help themselves, poor loves.
During the afternoon our female person even yakked on a microphone. She told people about handling and the importance of a well-trained llama. The plan was for Stan and me to be released in the main ring so our people could demonstrate capturing a llama in an unusual place or our in a field, but being naughty llamas we messed this up for her and wandered straight over to our person with the halter and rope. We didn’t want to be loose and we stood whilst we were haltered. Best laid plans…
Other llamas put on pack-wearing displays, and some did tricks for people like rolling over on command.
Saturday evening at Newbury always sees the two legs having dinner in our tent. They get out tables and chairs and eat masses of food, before turning the lights off and leaving us to our dreamy thoughts.
Sunday morning sees the usual fun classes, and the one I like most is the Llama Agilty race. This year it was tricky and lots of llamas decided they either didn’t want to leap the first jump, or were unsure about entering the unusual trailer, and the rustly blue plastic sheet on the floor was very off-putting for some youngsters. I was re-introduced to my guest-handler from Saturday and pleased to see him. He’d performed pretty well for a novice on the Saturday and I thought I would encourage him round the Two-Leg Agility race. How wrong I was! ‘John’ turned up looking tired and drawn and complaining about a bad back. Hmmm. Saturday must have tired out the old chap I thought. OK. Very gentle handling and coaxing.
And we’re off…John and I are over the first low jump and making good time towards the trailer. Up the ramp and (posing only for the briefest of moments to admire the crowd) down through the side door, straightening up for the assault on the blue plastic sheet. John was a bit scared at this, but I gently encouraged him. We turned sharp left and made strides towards the high jump. But, catastrophe! My two leg companion mis-judged it and in stretching out to hurdle the jump he kicked the pole right off it’s stand. Oh well, I thought, but we still ought to continue to put on a good show, and John, now red in the face with extreme embarrassment weaved in and out of the bendy poles with me following. The final obstacle is a tricky one for a llama – into a dead end and then backing out. I can manage this, but I think John got lost somewhere at the far end so I waited for him to emerge and we were off on the final run to the finishing line. Four faults. But a fast time, and no clear rounds yet. More entries, but llama after llama (and one guanaco) had faults at the jump or trailer, and so my time was fastest on the day. John had now recovered himself and was pleased to accept the award of a shiny shield which will have my name inscribed on it. Hurrah!
Stanton Drew, Pharaoh and I received lots of lovely cereal as reward for our efforts and then there was more two-leg yakking. By mid-afternoon we all sat down and rested in the glorious sunshine. Late in the day, all three of us were invited to take part in the Grand Livestock Parade at the show. This is impressive. The best of all the llamas, sheep, cattle, goats and oinkers parade before a large audience of two-legs. Wonderful.
And so we directed our people to drive us home and today we’ve relaxed in our fields. Trekking is on the agenda for the week-end – good stuff.
More news from Golden Valley Llamas soon