Even though it's been warm and dry down on the plains, we can escape to another world. Last weekend, Cody and I went for a hike to see how things were up high. Chilly and muddy-rainy-snowy, it turns out, which is fine with us and the llamas. It was a good training hike for our youngest packer-in-training, Mercury.
Cody with Rusty dog, Blizzard, and Mercury
Since Mercury is 1 1/2 yrs old and is too young to carry any weight on his back, he's wearing an alforja, also known as a Peruvian pack. It's a piece of woven cloth doubled up at each end to make pockets. There are no cinches. The woven wool sticks to the llama's wool, and it stays put pretty well, unless it gets caught by a tree branch. That's ok, though, it teaches the llama that sometimes things on his back don't stay there, and it's no cause for alarm. Mercury is on a string-along lead behind Blizzard, who is a veteran packer. Mercury just follows along, and before he knows it, he's gone over down trees, under down trees, across creeks, over bridges, and through mud holes and snow drifts, without any drama whatsoever. (Blizzard is wearing a Timberline pack, which (shameless promotion) is available on our website here.) When we got back down to the plains, it was 80 and sunny. We wanted to turn around and go back.
It wasn't a flood, just some irrigation water. It made Rory a lovely lake, and he didn't have to put a missage in a bottle hoping we'd come rescue him. Rory lives by himself in a pen with a hill and two sheds. His hill commands a sweeping view of the whole place, and Rory imagines himself ruler of all he surveys. Which is why he lives by himself; otherwise he fights and fusses and paces the fence and busys himself keeping the other boys away from his corner, and he neglects certain neccessary tasks such as eating.
Well, I honestly don't love the actual shearing, but I sure do like the home-grown llama fiber. At this point, the possibilities for what that fiber may become seem endless. A good soaking in warm water and Eucalan wool wash is the first step. (any mild soap like Dove for dishes or Dr Bronner's will do, I just happen to have a big bottle of Eucalan, and I like the way it smells) Then when it's dry, I sometimes spin it right off the pile. It can also be carded, combed, blended with other fibers, or felted.