Not a Farmer
This afternoon I was proud of my toughened farmers heart, calling the baby alpaca "bad timing", but not naming it. With it chasing ducks and biting its big brother's ears, its survival was all but certain. I could finally name it, but still called it bad timing.
Then our last winter baby appeared.
For the third time in my life I found myself blow drying a tiny alpaca. It toddled to a stand and tried to nurse on me. And when i looked into its tiny black face, which was really just two giant eyes with a little pink tongue, my heart lurched and I teared up as love swelled within me.
Its mama is healthy but this is only her second cria and the first did not make it. She also has such primal terror of confinement that I cannot safely lock her and baby up for the night. I couldn't help but hope that i could raise this one, imagining her in the play yard with my baby. I checked and she is our first female baby! Which means I can give her affection and care without her going berserk and having to be put down (a risk with the males). Also, alpaca can live inside because they will only go outside to potty.
Still, I believe in mamas and babies, so I turned the lamp out toward the half of the shelter that was open to the outside and I pushed the unsteady baby gently out toward its mama and alpaca family, where it was embraced as one of the clan.
Then i walked away, carrying its five pound placenta in a plastic bag and coming in to my own over tired cranky teething baby.
My baby is asleep in my arms now but in a few hours I will wake him to slip into the warm wet night and the snow to search for Dolcezza. Named before her first milk, teetering in a cold rain, with an outcast for a mother.
A year ago, almost to the day, Dolcezza's brother died at 3 months old. He was sickly and never ate grass or hay in all those months. The other alpaca avoided him. His mom's milk supply dropped. I tried to turn things around and kept a close eye on him. He had a good body score and seemed okay. I decided to give it a couple of days and if I could not resolve the issue, I would call the vet.
The next morning I found him dead, Pan, this sweet pure black first born son. Pregnant with my own, I felt like a monster, a villain.
But his mother was relieved, clearly much happier without him. His bones and the ache in my heart the only proof he had lived. No one else cared.
When bad timing was born, I was terrified of losing him. I called the vets 100 times in the first week, but they never came. They thought i could handle things on my own. And i did.
So here i am, two weeks later. Faith restored, winged hope soaring when Dolcezza ate hay before she could stand.
Why do i keep animals? I have asked myself that often now that I have added a tiny primate to the farm. Animals drain scarce resources like time and money.
Sitting here, itching to return to their world, I finally have my answer. It's love.
I am a lover. Not a farmer. I am an animal (aren't we all?). I am happiest when I remember that. When I gaze into animal eyes and that connection ignites love that warms me and holds me when I have to come inside and play at being human.