Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
June 2012

Grandma Llama, Rest in Peace.

Grandma Llama died this morning in the barn. She was around 20 years old and anemic. To spare you the gruesome details, she somehow received a cut on her stomach that was over an arterial vein. In the end, she basically bleed for too long. This may have been the first time an animal has ever died in front of me. Except the one time I rode over a chipmunk on a bicycle, but that was such a freak accident, I still don’t understand it fully.

We were never meant to welcome Grandma on the farm. While we were picking up Patsy and Edina, there she was, with baby Saffy, unwanted and sure to meet an untimely end. So the next day, I returned to the farm and loaded them both into the trailer. That was almost one year ago. Since then, we learned Grandma was considered a Level 5 starvation case – the worst of the worse. With lots of hay and fancy grain, her hair grew back where it had fallen out. She sat mostly in the barn, hanging out with the other old-timers, Hyacinth and Richard.

She was the first to the grain every morning. In fact, I knew something was wrong when she didn’t come to eat this morning. I’ve never really tried to describe llama characteristics, but she was friendly, inquisitive, and tolerant. Whatever happened to her early this morning, I know she certainly didn’t instigate it. I can’t describe the feeling as I was applying pressure to her wound, waiting for the vet to arrive, and having her collapse to the ground. At that point, we knew to brace ourselves for the worst.

Farm life is very real. And it smacked me the face this morning. Not only facing the death of an animal you’ve become accustomed to seeing, and caring for, every day, but also the logistics of handling death on the farm. Llamas are large animals, and cremation can be expensive. But whatever the end result, we have respected Grandma as she lay covered with an old, but very loved sheet. Her lifeless body was always lifted, never dragged.

My final memory of Grandma won’t be the final moments, but instead will be seeing her face every morning. I’ll also remember how kind the other llamas were today; how Hyacinth let Grandma rest her head on her back as she wavered standing this morning. How Saffy kept trying to peer inside the barn, checking on her Grandma, who she had known since birth. Farm life an be an emotional occupation. I’ll never be the guy who raises pigs for food. I’m too much of a blubbering idiot. So when someone at Orchard House dies, it’s a sad day. But we move on, because there are still hungry mouths to feed and young animals to carry on the legacy of those who have come before.

Good night Grandma, you may be gone, but you are surely not forgotten.

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Ma Snow has been escaping from our pasture for the past day. I had no clue how. And then, I saw it, with my eyes. Through a gate. How tricky Ma Snow. And now, the gate is closed, with a firm barn door in front of it. Silly goat, you can’t get nothing by me.

Goats are sneaky. The best part though, any time I found her outside, she’d come running to me to be let back into the pasture. Girl, if you hate it so much outside, then don’t leave. After some careful construction tomorrow, hopefully we’ll have no more escapes. Last night, in the dark, I went looking for the goats, who were not in the barn. I heard the “mwahahahahah” goat sounds and all were in the large field. Trouble. And then Ma Snow came running to the fence from outside. Darn her!

Oye, the rain is coming…gotta go feed some animals…

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Goodbye Louis.

Today Louis was taken to his new home. I view this as a farmer milestone. Like planting your first crop, or breaking your first tractor. Louis is the first animal ever sold by us. And I felt dirty doing it. I walked into the pasture this afternoon, and Louis was sitting with his mother. I picked him up and carried him away. They were both “bahhhing” – it was kind of gross. But then again, they’re sheep and this is a farm.

If I had a therapist I would discuss today with him (or her). I had to go deliver him to see where he would be living. It was a sense of closure. And his home is amazing. There is tons of pasture, with an actual pond inside. There are goats…a lot of them! And sheep! I even saw his betrothed – a cute little hair sheep, with all the color to make her worthy of little Louis. Oh, and the miniature pot-bellied pigs – they were everywhere. It was like a screenshot from Babe. Louis even has a guard llama to protect him from ne’er doers and to remind him of home.

So we have one ram in need of a new home. If you know anyone….I’ll just need fingerprints and background check.

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The past 24 hours.

It’s been an interesting 24 hours – some exciting things  have happened, and some things that are interesting,  but not quite Facebook worthy. Let me know if you think this makes for an exciting Thursday.

1. I went outside and found this snake stuck in my vintage small bird coop.

And so, being the good snake sumaritan I am, cut my VINTAGE small bird coop. Now we have an understanding. Eat mice. Don’t bite me.

2. I saw a Purple Martin at the new bird house today. I’ve heard they can take years to attract – the house has been up for a month. P.S. They’re a lot bigger than I thought.

3. At midnight last night, Bob Evans caught a raccoon. There is no need to get into the details, but the final score stands at Bob Evans 1, Raccoon 0. Interestingly, if not slightly horrifying, the entire farm woke up for the affair. Even Ms. Piggie came out to see what all the noise was about. The llamas were all at the fence, enthralled.

4. I slept until 7:30 this morning. This is last day for weeks where we don’t have a guest in the house. And what did I do, woke up early and made myself breakfast. It’s a cycle, a vicious cycle, and I can’t seem to break it. Like having a glass of wine every night, or a donut when you’re at Kroger.

5. Finally, I’ve got a delicious secret. Something that Don knows nothing about…but will in time. It makes me giddy to have a secret as I’m HORRIBLE at keeping them. But this secret is strictly on a need-to-know basis, and he don’t need to know right now.

I hope you had a great day, are having a wonderful evening, and dealt with fewer wildlife than I did today.




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