Brodgar talks about the weaning of the cria


We again have weanling llamas on the farm. It suddenly became necessary to separate Rollright and Moai from the girls when they started getting frisky. Our people decided the annual weaning process should take place, so Marden said goodbye to Tenbury Wells, Rollright to Long Meg, and Moai to Maes Howe.


When anything changes – people visiting, a move to a new field, or just some of us going for a walk – the young ‘uns get all excited. Sooner than you could say ‘Brod’s-your-uncle’ the young chaps were behaving quite inappropriately with the young gels…, instant separation and no more milk for the cria. I think general friskiness happens on a warm Spring day. The cria have the sun on their backs, a younger female who doesn’t quite understand her own body yet – perhaps Merrivale or Hetty Pegler – sees the youngsters and thinks it would be nice to have a cria of her own and lies down whilst the boys play at biting each other’s knees or tails. The ‘winner’ then crashes into the girl’s side and tries to mount her. I’m sure it was going nowhere, but our people are careful. You never know just how well developed the young ‘uns are.


The two-legs like to mix us up on a fairly regular basis and in the last ten days or so, I’ve acted as senior mentor to Rollright and Moai (with my charming sidekick Stanton Drew assisting). The two lads are OK and Stanton Drew is being given his head to see how he does. All the adult llamas know how my nephew bonded on me for so long – quite an endearing little chap really.


Over the way is young Marden with her sister Hetty Pegler and Merrivale. After a couple of days my sister Long Meg was taken into that field to act as an older auntie and she is being a super herd leader. I can see the way she gently leads the girls up the barn for hay and mix – subtle coaxing and leading by example.


You have to watch the youngsters. Sometimes they pull a fast one. Just a couple of days ago, Long Meg was leading her little gang past our field and up to the yard. They passed close to Rollright and this was too much for him. Well, he isn’t eight months old yet. I had my back turned, so I’m not sure if we have a jumper, but I think it’s more likely he ducked under the gate and shuffled out to join his mum again. They were pleased to see each other and I think this put back his official weaning by a week, but as soon as our people saw this, they opened the gate to our field and in the little chap ran to be with his brother Moai and the rest of us. This bonding thing and the ‘who’s in my herd?’ issue are so important to us llamas. Rollright had spent eight months with his mum, and did want to see her, but after a few hours he really wanted to be back with his current herd and especially Moai. A great couple of kids those two.


In fact, two great little herds, but I have been promised a break from uncle duties. Two-legs has just shunted Croft Ambrey, Avebury and Silbury into our field. Looks like I’m going to be allowed a break.


Meanwhile, Ringsbury, Stenness, Maes Howe and Tenbury Wells are in Lake Field. Last week the Canadians came home so they can raise a family again. We wake each morning to the geese calling out as they fly in for the day. A-honk-a-honk-a-honk-a-honk they say, which must be Canadian for ‘lets land on that lake and build a nest’. I think for the first week or so we provide a place to visit during the day, before the geese depart in the evening. I expect they’ll settle in a week and decide to stay permanently. It was rather nice having the three goslings on the lake last year. In fact they have returned with mum and dad. I wonder if there will be two nests this year? The mallards are also in attendance, though they tend to keep to the reeds and are much quieter and more secretive.


We had a couple of llama treks last week which were great fun. On Tuesday I led Croft Ambrey and Stenness out and on Wednsday I took Stanton Drew, Stenness and Silbury for a stroll. And earlier this week I boldly went forth with Stanton Drew and Croft Ambrey following on closely. I love llama trekking and it looks as if people will be walking with llamas a lot this year here in Herefordshire. More treks are arranged for the weekend, so hurrah for that!


I heard a rumour the other day that our people have arranged for the llama shearer to visit the farm later this year. Every two or three years we have our lovely coats removed so we don’t get too hot in the summer. Our beloved female takes the fibre and spins it on a ‘spinning wheel’ – a funny contraption with lots of bits sticking out of it, then she uses the long strands of fibre to make rugs for two-legs’ homes. We found three yeas ago that some animals produce loads of the stuff – Avebury makes a lovely chocolate brown fibre – and some give up far less – Silbury allowed enough for a bobble hat I seem to remember. I am a deep slate grey under my guard hairs and my fibre is very soft. Anyway, more on shearer Ben when he comes.


And more from us at Golden Valley Llamas soon. Off to prepare for a llama trek…


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