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Monday, June 01, 2015

When a girl gets her first haircut

The first haircut of any creature must be very strange. I can't remember mine, but if you think about it, the sensation of having your hair cut off must be frightening to a youngster. I can't remember my first haircut, but I do remember gong to the beauty parlor [this was the term in the early sixties, in case any young lasses are reading and rolling their eyes] and spinning in the lift up chair. Plus I was quite the catch as a little girl, curly red locks, adored by all the women in the shop. Those were the days!

So I set out to give Birdie a haircut, with scissors, no sheers. I know, I know, this is the laborious way to trim a llama. I haven't invested in sheers yet, nor did I engage someone to come sheer for me. There will come a time when I might have to have help, but for now, I am taking my time and hand sheering.

It was very hot for the past three days-over 85 and maybe even 90 yesterday. My intentions of helping move 7 tons of hog fuel melted upon my first step outside. So while Martyn tackled the hog fuel–which we are moving into the barn-I set out to conquer Birdie's wool coat.Martyn had the radio on to an oldies station and as I trimmed, I sang the songs I know so well. Birdie got a taste of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl", Peter Frampton's "Baby I Love Your Way", James Taylor, The Eagles and even classic Jimi Hendrix guitar solo. The barn was warm but with the goats walking in and out, Martyn raking hog fuel, the coast range in the distance with thunderheads slowly forming, I enjoyed the entire encounter.

Birdie is a very sweet creature. As you know, I am new to llamas, and Aldo who arrived from Sanctuary One as a very old elder, is pretty much like many llamas-he's not going to be putting his head in your lap. Llamas are very interesting, I really like them, but I must say that Birdie is like having teeny llama pal. She comes to me, chortles, neck hugs with me, and stands with her head on my shoulder. I knew I had to be careful in the beginning to not let her dominate the situation or become mate like, but so far, the behavior does not appear to be breeding related, just friendly.

I tied her tight to a post and went at it. She did very well–except for her legs, which I guess is normal for llamas. She would lay down at that point. I then took a rope and tied one hind leg so she couldn't lay down, or kick out. Although she wasn't kicking out, I did this for my safety. I leaned into her and trimmed the opposite side, so if she reacted to it with a kick out it was on the opposite side of me. In the end, I let her lay down and I trimmed her toes in that position-it worked, so that was all that matters. Her fiber is gorgeous and she was really easy to trim, sheering would have been a breeze for someone, I'm sure. Next year I hope to be more organized and able to harvest the wool–right now I use bits of it for my raggedy dolls.

Working with animals one on one is a wonderful way to get to know them. Grooming in the animal world is a key component to bonding, and I've always taken time to touch and handle my equines and other creatures. I've always done my own feet trimming on the flock, and shots, meds, etc. I don't know if I could, or would ever, turn it over to a helper. I know it will depend on my physical aging in the coming years, but something will be lost for me, and them, if I the sole caretaker can't lay hands on them daily. I think about this-the fact I'm aging, and even though I'm healthy, there are already many things I can't do as extremely as I did 10 years ago at 47. I had to trim Victor in four sessions, it was just too hard on my certain parts of my body.

The haircut must have felt good. So did my shower to wash all the wool bits off my warm skin.