In a bit of a pickle!!

I’ve had a few requests to add to my blog and I realise it’s been a while. Some might think that this silence is due to having an idea about what I’m doing now, therefore, less awkward moments to write about. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Although I have learnt so much since we took the plunge to live in rural Ireland, I continue to get myself into a pickle rather frequently. I’m almost the ‘Queen of Pickle’ (not the relish kind), I’m just a really busy Queen of Pickle/predicament/trouble/mess/problem/dilemma/crisis….

So here goes. My latest ‘pickle’ occurred yesterday.

It was an absolute gorgeous day yesterday. Still February but Spring was in the air. On days like this you get all hopeful, positive and enthusiastic. So, Stuart and I decided to get a few alpaca husbandry jobs done. Toe nails needed to be cut, fringes needed a trim and some vitamins were due. We started with the boys and despite a little wrestle with the odd few, all went well. As we walked up to the girls field we praised ourselves at how we have become more confident and able with all this alpaca care.

We got to the gate and made our way into the next field. We currently have 3 girls and two young boys in this field. Reuben and Samuel are in the process of being weaned from their mums and will make the permanent move to the ‘Big Boys Field’ any day now. They are just so adorable. Everything that needs to happen in this field takes twice as long as they pop over to see you, give you kisses and become a rather pleasant distraction. Not today, we were focussed. “Come on girls” we shouted as we made our way to their shelter with an orange bucket. The orange bucket contains a small handful of pellets and a perfect way to get our alpacas where we want them. They totally know whether your visit is a sociable one or a husbandry one. Even if we approach them all cool, no equipment and like we have all the time in the world, but secretly need to vaccinate them. They Know!!

So, the orange bucket is magic. No matter what, they will follow. I suppose it must be like someone shaking a Dairy Milk box of chocolates at me. I will get there and I will get one, no matter what…

We get them all in the shelter without any hassle. Mary always looks startled, she has this ability to make me feel really guilty about everything. She just stands and looks at you as if to say “just leave me alone will you”.  Rosin has this quirky walk and just makes you smile. She had rickets as a young alpaca but since moving to us she totally enjoys life to the full. She will always be a little underweight so we put a coat on her at winter to help her maintain heat. Agnes is our old girl at nearly 16 years of age. We have mated her a couple of times but she never takes. It’s such a shame as she is a great Aunty to the young ones. She is a real character though, her personality changes between a lovable cuddly alpaca to a ‘get out of my space now’ alpaca. Stuart might say she is a bit like me but he has learnt to withhold these comments after several years of training. The thing with Agnes, is that after mating and the following 11 months she is rather grumpy and I suppose protecting her baby. Unfortunately, she isn’t pregnant though. Once she passes what would be a gestation period, she becomes really friendly and cuddly.

So, we get them into the shelter without problem. Stuart realises that he needs a different oral syringe and makes his way down to the stables to get it.  I feel rather lucky to be the one to stay and get the opportunity to spend time with the girls and two boys. So, I’m faced with 5 alpacas. Agnes looks really pissed off with me, Mary looks as startled as always and making me feel really guilty about god knows what, the two boys are frustrated as they wanted to play in the field and Rosin is posing in her height of fashion coat. Stuart seems to be taking forever. What’s he doing down there? Has he got distracted again and forgotten what he was doing or is he actually walking 5 miles into Oughterard to collect the bloomin syringe from the vet!!

“Okay, crack on” I think. I’ll take Rosins coat off as it is really warm today. …This is the moment where I should have decided to stop and simply admire the view of Lough Corrib instead.

I approach Rosin and start undoing the Velcro, she is obviously unhappy with this as she begins to scream at me, Agnes decides that she really likes the coat as she stands tall behind me making very excitable grunts, I lift the coat from Rosins back and let it drop to the floor as I need to slip her back legs out of the elastic straps. Agnes decides to lay on the coat leaving rosin stuck, the two boys think this is great fun, Reuben decides this is a great time to give me some kisses and Samuel takes this opportunity to have a drink from mum (Rosin). To do this he chooses to put his head between my legs and then reach up to his mum’s teats. Rosin isn’t in the mood for this (obviously) so drops herself to the floor. As I balance myself, with rosin below me, Samuel between my legs, Agnes behind me wanting the coat and Reuben totally in my face, I look up and Mary looks as startled as ever wondering what on earth her ‘Human Mum’ is doing this time. I hear the gate open and Stuart walks through oblivious to what is happening in the shelter. “Stuart”, I giggle. “I’ve got myself into a bit of a pickle”. He didn’t look surprised as he shook his head. Anyway, all ended well and no alpacas or humans were injured in this moment of madness.


2 thoughts on “In a bit of a pickle!!

  1. I was so happy to find your blog last month! I spent my jr. year abroad in Ireland (Cork) and my parents (professional nature photographers) live in upstate Maine (on the Canadian border) and help out on an organic dairy/chicken farm – it’s small, right on the fingers of cliffs above the ocean. In my ideal world I would drop everything and move (back) to Ireland, where my grandfather’s family is from, and farm, live simply and fully. Your blog and adventures are so inspiring! I do hope you can wedge in some time to do more posting – even short updates. I am in the financial world here in Boston and the change of pace just makes my day! 🙂


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