Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Would you head-butt a llama?
Having animals of different sizes on the farm can be an interesting balancing act. You always have to keep in the back of your mind who can be together with whom and who needs to be protected from whom. Will the new guy get along with so-and-so or is there a potential for harm?
Pete and Reggie, my dwarf goat boys, are small in size but very big in attitude:
There is no doubt in their minds that they are the priority on this farm and that everyone else is here solely for their entertainment:
In the last few months, since the llamas and donkeys arrived, I've put a good deal of effort into keeping the goats out of the llama/donkey pastures. I'm smart enough to know not to trust the donkeys, but the decision is still out on the llamas and whether they will be friend or foe to the goat boys.
I have noticed, however, a certain intensity in Kai the llama's eyes when she's looking at the goats. It's more than a little unnerving to me:
When all the other "big animals" are off eating and doing donkey and llama things, there Kai will be...watching...
...with a very focused stare:
I've watched her closely, these last few months, wondering whether her intensity is based in curiosity or aggression:
Pete and Reggie, of course, are oblivious to any potential danger:
They think everybody loves them:
....and wants to share their food with them.
They consider a closed door (or gate) nothing more than a momentary inconvenience:
...and rarely think twice before jumping over (or squeezing through) a gate or fence:
regardless of who might already be occupying that space:
So, I've been more than a little nervous for that first face-to-face-with-no-fence-in-between introduction between the llamas and the goats. I knew the day would come when it would happen and I tried to be prepared for it - and ready to jump in to rescue anyone who needed it.
On the day it happened, the goats were following me around the property as I was doing chores. We headed down to the chicken coop. The donkeys were somewhere in another pasture and the llamas were in the pasture we were going into, but quite a ways down the hill.
Funny how quickly those big animals can move when they want to:
And here's how their first barrier-free meeting worked out:
I have to say, watching Kai, she's remains eerily focused on my goat boys, but I don't sense any aggression from her. She is just extremely curious, intent on just staying close, watching and sniffing. Is this a "guard llama" trait? I've never seen anything like it.
(Did you see the temporary fence? Here's a perfect example of one of its limitations: my little orange-twine fence, put up to keep the big animals out, doesn't keep the little animals in.)