Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Wednesday, May 06, 2020

The old llama...is it her final spring?

Old Luna sits under M'Lady Apple this morning
In the past weeks I've felt a shift in Luna. She is not holding her weight well despite eating supplement to her hay. I've fed her more than any elder llama I've had and I think when she is sheered in coming weeks she will be pretty thin. I check her ribs and such, but when winter coats are taken off it shows reality.

More than that, she has been up and down more which can be a sign of fading. She has fallen pasterns so it probably could be part of it. But she is also separating herself a bit more than normal from her current herd. Usually she kind of sticks close to Luci when they graze-and let's face it, Luci isn't exactly Miss Congeniality.

I like Luna. She is not an overly friendly llama, but she is not unfriendly, she is not as feral as Luci. Luci is just sort of a pill. She just doesn't seem to warm up despite my intentions. And she is very bossy with Luna. Luci is the old llama that was bred, and I was to take her and the baby. But the baby died at about 2 months old, it was very sad. But I agreed to take on old Luci so Luna would have a herd mate since Arlo had to be separated.

So I know how this can go with llamas...we went through it with Aldo, our first elder llama out west who came to us very thin, and he was already 20. The vet said not to expect him to live that long. I think he lived another year and half. But one day, he died, far up on his favorite lookout. He was legs up when Martyn drove off to work that morning, and the yellow jackets had already devoured his entire head. I'm sorry, but that is the reality of having animals. It's not all pretty Instagram photos. In some ways, in most ways, the fact he died up on his lookout, his head close to the sky, was beautiful for him...it was beautiful for him. But I had to get help to drag the body down about 3,000 feet. It was about hundred degrees that day, the yellow jackets were everywhere...I was trying to save his skull as we dragged the body.

I'm telling you all this because when you do this sanctuary gig, you have to be part of all aspects, not just the fun part of bringing home an animal. You have to think all the time about demise and burial or what paddock is best for an elder. Sometimes you guess wrong.

I was thinking of letting the sheep and Luna and Luci go into the far field. But then I already was thinking if she went down in that field, it would be hard to get her body up. It's still very wet there anyway. And to be honest, Luna does a lot of laying about as in this photo so i think shade and warmth and water are her choices she wants right now.

Luna has really beautiful eyes, and when I came out to the barn late morning to work on some fencing, she was alone in the shade of the barn. She didn't get up. I talked to her.

I always look for her now when I'm out and about in the field or gardens. I know what it looks like when a llama is down, and gone.

I may be wrong. But whenever she goes, I hope it is peaceful and maybe under the old apple.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~