Conversation with an alpaca

Today was a big day on Poppy Creek Farm. This morning, when I went out to do morning milking, I found an itty bitty cria, shivering in a puddle of placenta. Standing over it was its slightly bemused Mama, Annalise, who was humming rather urgently and trying to keep the other alpacas from doing what, frankly, she should have been doing herself: namely cleaning that darn baby off.

It took me a minute or two to register what I was seeing, and another five to fashion an impromptu stall in the shop where the baby could at least sit under a heat lamp.

I scooped it up, clipped a lead on Annalise (who, for once, allowed me to halter her without rewarding me with a faceful of spit) and took them both down to the barn. As I settled the baby in a nice warm bed of hay, I thawed its poor little ears in my fingers, as the tips were beginning to freeze already. In the house, I found a dog sweater lined with sheepskin that fit him (it's a boy!) and tried to coax Annalise to nurse him.

Every time I managed to get him balanced on his improbably long and wobbly legs, and direct him towards the milk, Annalise would cush, practically sitting on his head. This happened repeatedly, over the course of the next couple hours and, following a call to a friend for emotional backup and validation, I decided to go ahead and warm over some goat colostrum I had in the freezer and feed him that. Just in case.

Happily, he sucked it down, but the whole time I was feeding him, Annalise stood over me nervously, chewing on my ears and rifling through my hair with her whiskers.

Me: Annalise, if you like him so much, feed him your damn self. OK?
Annalise: (not looking convinced) Hmmmmmmmm.....
Me: Seriously. He's yours. And if you want him to stay yours, you gotta feed him.
Annalise: (gives me a reproachful look and backs away)
Me: You know, when they gave me that baby there (nods towards baby patiently waiting in warm truck watching Thomas the Tank Engine) in the hospital, I wasn't totally convinced either. This Mama thing, it's a helluva deal. But like it or not, you simply gotta feed it. (I reach towards Annalise to check she actually does have milk)
Annalise: (cushes immediately and give me stinkeye)
Me: Seriously, chick. Dig deep. Release the oxytocin! Find it within you and feed it!!

Happily, within another couple hours, he was steady on his feet and nudging at Mama for milk. I am hopeful.

I, on the other hand, clearly need to get out more, and have some adult, two-way conversations.

Oh, and the pinto, one-blue-eye-one-brown-eye thing was a shock to me. But CUTE. Really, really cute.