Sunday, November 1, 2009
Our first cria: here and gone
Saturday morning I was dressed up and ready to leave for my nephew's birthday party when Jonathan walked in and said that he had found what looked like half of a dead baby llama. What? How? We only have one female llama, and she shouldn't be having a cria until next April, since llamas have an 11-month pregnancy. We bought her in May, and she was not supposed to be bred. I pulled on my farm boots and coat, hoping I had completely covered my clean clothes.
Everyone ran outside and through the barn and to the far pasture where we saw Sovalye, the livestock guardian dog, standing over something in the grass. We smelled the cria about the same time we saw it. Clearly it had been dead for quite some time. It smelled like rotten meat, and Sovalye was very interested in it. We had no idea whether it was a boy or a girl, because the back half of it was completely missing. We knew Sovalye was not to blame, because he had not been in that pasture for weeks. It was hard for us to believe the llamas would have let coyotes in the pasture to eat their young one, even if it was dead.
Only one thing now made sense to me -- now I understood why Katy looked thin when I was in the pasture a week and a half earlier. Two Wednesdays ago, I was taking pictures of all the animals with the fall foliage. When I saw Katy, I thought she looked thin, but when I compared her to the other llamas, I couldn't say why. When I downloaded the pictures to the computer, I had to say that she looked like a perfectly normal llama. Now I realize that she must have recently given birth, which was why she looked "thin" to me.
I contacted the breeder we bought her from, and she said that another llama had unexpectedly given birth two weeks earlier. She concluded that one of the boys in their mama-baby pasture had reached sexual maturity a little early and got the two pregnant. Luckily their baby survived. We will probably never know why ours died. Perhaps the mama gave birth in the rain, and the baby died from hypothermia. That's about the only thing that makes sense to me. Considering how many other animals the llamas have saved from coyote attacks, I have to believe that they would have protected their own young one.