Maes Howe’s Diary – Moai is born
Moai is my new blue-eyed boy. He’s big and strong and takes after his father Pepsi – a mainly white front half and a very dark back half. Someone said he looks like an eclipse. Silbury said Moai looks like he’s had a tin of black paint and then a tin of white paint thrown over him. He has beautiful markings on his face. Moai is coming up to a week old – born on the 8th August – and he’s already bigger than Rollright who is 10 days older. He’ll be a big strong boy and I’m sure our people will want Moai to be a llama trekker here at Golden Valley Llamas.
Everyone was around for the birth – and I mean EVERYONE. It was like a party out there – all the girl llamas, our people and their guests – but I didn’t mind the fan club. They are there to help out if needs be. My doctor put in an appearance because for a while it looked as if I was going to have a tricky birth – only one foot and Moai’s big white nose were showing, but I soon popped the other foot out and then everything proceeded normally. Within seconds of being born he was floundering around trying to get up. This is excellent. That’s what a llama mother wants – a llama cria that knows instinctively what it needs to do. I was soon able to let him feed and all Moai’s aunties gave him a good sniffing.
Someone once said ‘a week is a long time in a young llama’s life’ and my son is now playing with Marden and Rollright in the fields. They run around, chase each other, play tag, charge to the top of the hill and generally just act like gorgeous little crias together. Happy summer days at Old King Street Farm.
Girl days are taken up with lots of grazing – we need to produce good milk – and lots of chewing the cud. Boy days mean lots of llama trekking at the moment. Our boys are going out at least 7 times this month, and this is great for Silbury, Avebury, Brodgar, Stenness and Croft Ambrey. They absolutely love it. Young Stanton Drew is in training now. I watch them in the next field and can see he has a special bond with his Uncle Brodgar and follows him everywhere.
Brodgar picks up the story…
It’s my special job to get my nephew Stanton Drew ready for being a fully-fledged llama trekker. The youngsters often bond with us mature llamas and Stanton Drew has latched onto me. At night he sleeps just six feet away from me and as I wander round the field grazing, my sister’s boy is sure to follow. Training consists of me standing quietly whilst I’m haltered to show him what’s expected of a good llama. So, Stanton Drew stands and is haltered next to me. I am groomed. Stanton Drew is groomed. I have my muscles and bones felt and so does Stanton Drew. Our people call it conditioning. They repeat the same process each time; we get used to the repetition and accept it.
A training walk is quite like a full trek, just shorter. I set off with one of our people in front of Stanton Drew who follows with our second person. So far, he has been happy and follows me, but we have found he is wary of the narrow chute onto the road as we leave the farm. He needs gentle coaxing to walk down the slope, so after I’ve walked smartly through the gap, I turn around and offer encouragement to the little chap. I stand and show him I’m there and Stanton Drew works it out and very gingerly follows. I won’t stand there for ever. Gentle encouragement is one thing, but after a couple of minutes I’d rather be off and I’ll set off down the road. This is also likely to persuade Stanton Drew he’d be better off following his uncle Brodgar.
We’ve walked to our neighbours, then past the village farm and on to the houses in the heart of the village. I think the boy has got it! Sometimes young trekkers are scared leaving the farm and herd. It all depends on what they have bonded with most closely – sometimes a particular older llama, sometimes the herd as a whole, and often the farm itself. But Stanton Drew has taken to me, and I’ll continue to mentor him.
These are exciting times at Old King Street Farm with the birth of the last of the new llama babies in 2010 and the training of the prospective trekking llamas taking place this summer.
We’ll be back in touch soon.