Some may think that we have the winter off on our Farm Stay in France. In the same way that teachers get lots of holidays! The winter is for us, like school holidays are for teachers, a time to plan, prepare, find inspiration and recuperate. …
Tag: holidays in france
Part ONE – County Kerry, Ireland. August / September 2012
I don’t remember much of how it all began, mummy says that’s a good thing.
My earliest memories are of anger, hunger and fear, of my tummy rumbling and bubbling, of shame when I messed.
One night I remember being the scariest night in my short life, a monster of a storm, the thunder roared, it sounded like it was getting closer, coming for me, I needed to hide, the humans were shouting, one had me by the collar and I was thrown roughly into a van. I squeezed my eyes shut and took my mind to another place.
It had been quiet for a while, I thought that I was alone, I didn’t dare open my eyes.
“Hello beautiful, how have you got here?” I didn’t dare open my eyes.
I felt myself being untied and carried, the human was gentle and her voice, a quiet song, but still, I didn’t dare open my eyes.
Several days passed, they put food close to me, it smelt delicious but my tummy bubbled and I couldn’t eat it, they stroked me gently and whispered that I would be just fine, I couldn’t believe them.
Slowly I dared to open my eyes.
The humans were so excited, they talked and whispered that maybe I would pull through, that maybe I would start to eat, that maybe I was leaving the trance-like state, maybe I’d be ok.
I started to believe them, they wanted to give me a name! I heard the humans talking, giving their ideas for a name that would be worthy of me.. I think they got that muddled up, I’m sure that must have been deciding if I was worthy of a name! I was very nearly called Ribbons, I thought it was the best name I’d ever heard, it was going to be my name!
It was decided that to call me Ribbons because I was so so thin, skinny ribbons, would be a reminder of my start in life, so no, the name was not worthy.
Then the man that worn the blue overalls noticed that my ears and my nose weren’t very collie like, I felt panic, my tummy started to bubble again, I’d been found out, I wasn’t a proper collie and wasn’t worthy of a name, I squeezed my eyes shut again.
Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? closer, Let me whisper in your ear…..
Baby goats are well scary!
I know this to be true as I have witnessed the fear that they instil, and the terror that is evoked by their mere presence.
Now I’m sure that true to their formidable reputation, you would believe that should our llamas be introduced to new farm mates, they would be pretty stand offish, maybe band together as a gang, and very likely gob in the eye of a newcomer… had I not been privy to the scenes on our farm earlier this year, I’d have agreed with you, probably even been willing to bet money on the llamas nonchalantly flicking their heads at any interruption to the day long task of eating and chewing the cud.
If there are any changes to be made on the farm, We always try to think of our animals first. So wanting to increase the animals on the farm, we decided on goats, you see, we’d seen so many pictures of llamas and goats together, llamas bravely acting as guards for these cute little creatures, sharing their stable and hay, all getting along like a house on fire.
Nonetheless, we decided to get baby goats, these 3 baby goats had also been breed to be hornless, we didn’t want the prospect of any accidental leg injuries to the llamas, and thought that introducing goats barely a few months old would pose no threat. We were smug indeed, that we had thought of everything to ensure a smooth welcome onto the farm and introduction to our beautiful, strong, toweringly tall llamas. (most are well over 6 ft tall)
Fast forward, an enclosure and stable were built to keep the goats safe and quarantined for a few weeks before they would be ready to mingle. Because of open gates we kept the llamas in the far pasture whilst the goats were delivered, out of sight and harms way.
Considering that we have a tendency to make impulsive decisions which are put into action before we can change our minds, we were pretty pleased with ourselves that everything had gone smoothly, even the dogs and cats had come for a nosey and decided that these newbies were a perfectly acceptable addition to the farm.
Re-opening the gate from the far pasture, we wondered off, out of sight, excited to watch the llamas meeting the goats through the fence for the first time.
OH MY DAYS!
Have you ever heard a llama alarm cry? have you ever heard 7 llamas making an alarm cry?!
When llamas sense danger, they make an alarm cry from their throat, to warn the rest of the herd…. you know the thing, warning there is a big cougar in their natural environment, or perhaps around our farm, there are hunters with guns, they let out the cry and make sure Bambi is aware and gets away (we love this!)
Oh the shame of it, our beautiful, strong, toweringly tall llamas were absolutely terrified of the threat to their safety, these babies had bought to the farm. Were the goats scared by the raucous the llamas were causing… not one bit! In fact they were acting incredibly annoyed that someone had put a fence in between them and their new friends!
Oh llamas do love a good drama and kept up the theatricals for a good couple of weeks. Then overnight, it seems, Ayesha instructed the lot of them to don their big girl knickers (even the 2 boys, who were not happy about this order) link little fingers with the goats, sing make up make up, and act as if nothing had ever happened.
Florence, Mary and Tabitha are now honoury llamas and get away with any mischief they think up;
Llama hay feeder = perfect goat trampoline
Llama standing in the rain = just the right height for a goat shelter
Llama cushed down chewing the cud = very handy goat foot stall to reach high places
Remember, you promised not to tell… our brave-heart llamas have a reputation to maintain!
Our 4th goat Didi has now also joined the crew and is expecting kids in February….
Today was a great day that found the treasure I have been patiently waiting for.Today we went to a riverside brocante in Montsoreau, a beautiful French town that sits next to the Loire. Our favourite days out are finding Brocantes and searching for treasure. The drive …
There is not much missing from our life on our Llama Farm, but there has been something that I haven’t been able to put my finger on. It’s been bugging me since we first moved to the farm in June last year. It was on the long list of jobs in my head that needed to be done, but has always been forgotten when pen and paper are handy. I do love a good to do list!
The llamas have settled in wonderfully in the 6 months since they arrived, the area that they have, has steadily grown as we have bought more gates and extended the fencing. They started with the field they share with the chickens and the area behind the barn where they poop, then we soon added the end of the potager so they could have a dust bath, followed by the field that overlooks our garden, and they have now pretty much taken over and have the top field with the Ancient Nouzillard Chestnut Trees, the middle field and the bottom fields where they have created a sand spa, known as “The Spa”
They really have created a spa and even queue up to use it! “The Spa” is a disused stable, its a bit small for our herd and quite a distance from a tap and where the hay is delivered, it has a floor of sand. We first realised what the llamas where up to, when we were out walking the dogs and heard banging. It sounded like building type banging. Puzzled by what was causing the noise we went to investigate, well. The llamas had formed an orderly queue outside the stable, I kid you not, llamas are exceptional at queuing, and were then taking it in turns to use the sand floor as a dust bath, “taking it in turns” was not quite so orderly and I have video evidence of Portia spitting at Orion because he thought it was his turn, silly boy! However, Llamas are not silly you know, “The Spa” is undercover so stays dusty in winter whereas the potager is now a bit muddy from the rain… adapt and survive! – let me know if you want to see the video, I think it’s hilarious.
Anyway, I digress. Last week, whilst looking through the many sites I follow relating to llamas, I realised what has been missing from the llamas list of must haves. A mound, a hill, something for these majestic creatures to stand on whilst they survey their kingdom. Everyone knows llamas need a mound!
As luck would have it, we have a natural mound that is behind the old presse, covered in brambles, but nonetheless a mound. Following a few days hard graft, the mound is now a prickle free zone and the llamas really love it. We can see that the llamas love it from their stance, look at the photos and see why these beautiful creatures are always refereed to as majestic.
From their new viewpoint the herd can see any approaching visitors coming up the drive, they can watch Nigel at work in the garage, and being the highest point of the farm they can now survey their entire kingdom. Perfect!