Sunday, March 8, 2009

Trouble happens in threes

I was the last one up this morning, which is pretty typical on a Sunday. And with Daylight Savings, I lost an hour of sleep that I would have liked to get back. Unfortunately, 'twas not to be. Jonathan didn't get a chance walk Mom's dog, Joy, before he left for church so I had to get up and do it before she had an accident. Once I was up there seemed little point in going back to bed, so I headed outside to do chores.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out to fill the goats' hay feeders and saw the llamas standing in water at the bottom of the middle pasture. I had thought llamas were slightly sensible creatures who should have realized they needed to retreat to much higher ground when it started flooding -- but no, they were at the bottom of the pasture standing in water that was probably 4-6 inches deep, with water up to 2 feet around them.

I immediately ran down and took my shoes off to go in. I'd been in this situation before and didn't know how long the llamas had been standing in the frigid water. The air temperature wasn't too bad -- probably around 50 degrees at the time -- but because of the time of year, the water felt around 33 degrees. I didn't walk more than 4 feet in (and 2 feet deep) before I felt like my feet and calves were going to freeze off. I quickly got back out of the water, put my socks and boots back on, and headed back to the barn, hoping I would think of something while I finished chores.

Well, right when I finished chores I heard Sovalye, our livestock guardian who is currently locked up in the barn, whining very loudly. I looked over at the stall he was in and realized that he had ripped down all the chicken wire that had been covering the bars. I wasn't sure why he would have done that but he seemed very upset. After finding a collar and leash, I took him outside for a walk. I pretty much just let him lead me where he wanted to go, as I didn't have a preference, and we eneded up by the sheep pasture. You've probably heard my mom say before that sheep hardly, if ever, make noise. I heard a very upset baaing coming from the bottom of their pasture, which surprised me, as their pasture doesn't flood and I couldn't fathom what could be the matter.

Squinting my eyes (I didn't have my glasses on), I saw that Snuggles, our Southdown Baby Doll wether, appeared to have gotten caught in some baling twine. We just got a large circular bale of hay for the sheep, so that we don't have to take half a bale out to their pasture every day, and Dad tied a tarp over it yesterday with baling twine. Unfortunately, some of the twine and come down and caught Snuggles to the point that he was almost choking himself, it was so tight. Thank goodness Sovalye decided we need to visit the sheep!

As Sovalye and I walked back to the barn, I tried calling Dad and Mom, who are off at a seminar about apple trees (I think). The only thing I could think of, since I absolutely did not want to go in that water again, was to take the inflatable raft to get to the llamas, and try to get them to move through the water to dry land. (Although how exactly that would have worked, I'm not sure.) I deposited Sovalye in the shed with the momma goats and their babies so he would have some company, and headed back to look at the llamas. One of them had moved about 10 feet from their original spot, where the other llama still was. However, he seemed very unwilling to move more.

Dad called me 10 minutes later as I was contemplating exactly how to get the raft blown up. He didn't have any other ideas, and neither did Mom. After dragging the raft about 300 feet into the barn, I really didn't want to try to blow it up, so I went out to look at the llamas again. Surprise! The pasture had drained some, and they were standing on semi-dry land, though still surrounded by 2-foot-deep water. However, knowing that I would be able to stand on that semi-dry land once I reached them, I was more willing to wade across. Once again, I stripped off my boots and socks and started across. It wasn't as deep as it had been earlier, and I found slightly higher ground, though the water was still above my knees for much of the 100-foot walk. By the time I reached them my feet had started to go numb, which was a blessing for the most part, but made me worry about all sorts of things -- like if it was possible my toes would turn black and fall off before I made it out of there.

When I reached the llamas, they were not at all happy to see me. They aren't the friendliest, and I had to grab the smaller one around the neck to try and put a halter on him. I finally got it on, but as soon as I tried to start dragging him across the water, he planted his legs firmly on the ground. Unfortunately, the halter wasn't tight enough and he was able to pull out of it. I was so terrified that my toes were going to fall off that I started chasing them to try and put the halter back on one of them. Eventually, after about 2 minutes, I was able to chase them into the far pasture (they both jumped the fence) and onto dry land. They seemed improperly ungrateful for my sacrifice. Walking back to the house, I didn't even bother to put my shoes or pants back on (which had fallen off after getting soaked), as my feet were so numb they didn't really notice the cold.

Once inside, I hopped right into the shower. All of this activity makes me a little sad -- I'll be going to college this fall, and as much as I'm glad to get away from this craziness (this is not the first time I have crossed frigid water to save animals), I think part of me is going to miss it. I was just accepted to the College of Engineering (Electrical Engineering major) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a transfer student, and that is probably where I will be this fall.

Update on Coco's babies: They seem to be doing well, momma is making lots of milk, and the babies are getting enough food. We'll be keeping a close eye on them, as we seem to have trouble with quads, but for now they're doing well. There is a possibility that two of the bucks and possibly the doe are polled -- if so, that means there's only one possibility for daddy: Draco. Naughty boy! We'll be able to tell for sure in a few days.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Well, at least you may get genetic proof, which is nice!

Methinks you may eventually find a lot of the college students very shallow. You have been resourceful, worked hard, and contributed in a meaningful way to your family's existence. You will find that is not the norm among the young people you will be surrounded with. Maybe you'll teach them a thing or two!

Sharrie said...

Sounds like a storm story rescue. It is amazing that you were able to get them into a safe situation. Weather seems to cause tons of problems with the animals that we care for.

Nancy K. said...

Margaret ~

You are AWESOME!!!

Deborah said...

Margaret, my dear, what am I going to do without you next fall?

SkippyMom said...

I want to say [first] CONGRATULATIONS! That is awesome news and you should feel very proud! I am so excited for you.

As for the llamas? You poor soul, and please excuse me for chuckling a bit that your pants fell off? It sounds exactly like a pratfall my own teenager would experience while trying to do something like that.

Hang in there - a dorm room with no animals or animal type chores awaits.

And your Momma is right - I say the same thing [and we don't have a farm] What are we going to do without you guys? :)

Congrats again.

Mom L said...

Quite a morning, Margaret! I'm so glad you posted, though. Congratulations on're going to miss the farm life, right?

Nancy in Atlanta

Susan Ryan said...

Congrats on getting into U of I, Margaret! That's quite an accomplishment. (We're heading to the U of I engineering open house tomorrow)

Love reading all of your adventures. I was just checking in to see if all was well at Antiquity Oaks. Other than wet feet over and over again, it looks pretty good.

If we ever get that fence up, maybe we'll finally get some goats. But I might have burnt the husband out for a bit with the new chicken house.


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