This past Monday, I headed back out to the land hoping to catch some of the workers finishing up our log stacking. We have a slight delay there as we await the plumber to come out and lay some pipe between the house and barn. Hopefully our GC will be able to work through this coordination delay.
Meanwhile, I’ve been putting into practice all my Camelidynamics training with our neighbor’s llama, Uber. (See the previous posts for photos)
This has been going quite well. Of course, that is to say until yesterday when I think we reached an empass with the catch pen. You see, he does quite excellent at accepting the halter and leading him all around. I even took him through some rough trail brush and over logs and some nearby switchbacks. No problem, he loves his walks and he hums and orgles when he sees me coming. I think we are building some trust in general.
Well, we can’t push that either. Earlier this week, Gayle assisted me while I sheared his blanket area. He did fairly well with it and Gayle did a remarkable job of keeping him wooed. He drew the line at his backside though and I couldn’t get anywhere near his legs, so he still looks a bit scraggily. I tried some follow-up shearing the next day. Unfortunately, me thinks too much: catchpen = shearing = yikes! So, instead, I brought him to the catch pen and did nothing except some TTOUCH and give him some feed. After all, he his behaving quite well. Then I said, ok, let’s try this again. So, yesterday we brought him back to the catch pen and tried to shear his back quarters: spit, spit, spit, spit, spit. Luckily, he was only getting fed pellet grain, so there was nothing to his spit. However, he swivels that backside so that it is the futherest away as possible. Oh well, we’ve got a long way to go to condition him that it is safe to touch him. His newly sheared blanket area is a new experience for him entirely, so we also need to let him adjust to that. His shows this by being overly sensitive to even a hand placed on his spine; head and neck, no problem. It’s all about conditioning him to build trust first, then we’ll add some other maintenance. The big goal: trimming those gnarly toenails!
I rewarded him yeaterday with a great long walk. Even more exciting was the fact that our neighbor’s dog, Trace, black lab, has learned that the llama is not a deer to chase. (had to convince him there was no threat) The rewarding part was when the three of us, all leashed (well, at least the dog and the llama) went for a walk. Trace and Uber worked excellent together. When we came to a particularly challenging portion of a trail, fairly steep with lots of brush to duck under, there was absolutely no tension in either of the leads. Personally, I think Uber was just so thrilled to be doing something different.
Today, Uber gets a break. As mush as I enjoy working with him and practicing handling a llama, he needs some processing time. He’s come to expect me every morning to walk on in and put him in a halter for the walk back to our place. When I don’t show up today, it should give him pause. I look forward to seeing what his reaction will be when I show up again.
For now, I’m in town for the day (that’s Granite Falls, town… as opposed to "in city" for Seattle proper…I visualize a need for a virtual status board with my location: "David now located IN TOWN"). It’s funny how spread out our roots are currently. With our household in storage, a home under construction, shower at our nextdoor neighbors, an apartment in the city, and my virtual Granite Falls office ("in town") at the GF library, sometimes I don’t know where I’m at. Philosophically, I have put myself in "go with the flow" mode: remain flexible, pack a couple of options with me, and be ready to switch gears.
Today I put that flexibility into motion and made a few unplanned stops that proved productive. First stop, my favorite drive-up coffe kiosk. The girls there both knew who I was! OK, so that says a lot, I’m now "A Regular". Then it was off to Oso Lumber who is coordinating the rest of the lumber order for our site. I just wanted to touch bases with them to assure them that everything is still a go, albiet with a slight delay. Again as soon as I walked into the back office, I was greeted by name! Yea, that is cool. Everything fine on the lumber front and they are ready when we are. So, I veered off to the other side of town (um, we are talking about a few small blocks) to make some introductions at City Hall and the Community Coalition. The Coalition is a non-profit resource center sponsored by businesses and the town to work with youth in the area, especially regarding drug use. It was nice to be able to position ourselves as a potential meeting place in the future for some of their events. One more stop before heading to my "office" and that was to the Granite Falls Hardware Store. It’s really more than just hardware, though. I wanted to check out their gun sale. We talked about what our needs were and I’ve narrowed my choices down to a .38 revolver for the front desk (remember, we ARE in a remote area) and a rifle for any predator protection. We really do have to cover all our bases. Though, I’d say our robust security system, including video, will be a sufficient deterent for the area. Don’t mess with this gay man though, I’ll put my tiara on and get my revolver! Yup, all kidding aside, you have to think about all these things when you decide to live in the back country.
Ok, my tasks today then are to work on finalizing our fencing costs and to research a used stock trailer that we can hook up to our truck for transporting the animals. Anyone out there with any leads?