Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This is MY herd

Lucy has been at our farm just over a week. We are still getting used to each other. Since she came, I've had a hard time deciding if she is really friendly, really protective, or just curious. She will always greet me when I go out there, she'll walk up to me and get close. I love her big eyes:

Most of the time she just comes up to me as if to say "hi". But sometimes she runs over to me making a clucking sound. My niece described it so well, when she does this we don't know if she's preparing to spit on us, or is just greeting us. My niece said "that's when I run away." I haven't run away, and she has never spit on me. So I don't think it's a spitting issue. But I do think she feels protective of Latte's cria, Ginger. They both came to our farm last week, from the same farm, the same herd. Lucy seems more protective of the cria than Latte. And, somehow Lucy knows when I come out there to do something with Ginger, that's when Lucy will cluck and block me.

To block, she stands sideways right in front of me. As I walk I literally have to push her out of my way. All the time she's making a clucking sound, that makes me wonder if she might spit at me. It's as if she knows Ginger came from her former herd and it is her duty to protect her. Lucy will move from her block only to zig zag and block me again. The block amounts to this:

I can only take a few steps before I have to push her. Then she will zig zag around to this:

While I have a couple inches on Lucy, Lucy has mass on her side. She's a good size alpaca. I don't know exactly how much she weighs, but she's heavier than me. If she wanted to spit and kick and push me, she could make my life pretty miserable. I often classify alpacas in those with less mass than me, and those with more. The ones with less mass I always think I could take them on. But the truth is that I've had little young one wrestle me to the ground and give me bruises that lasted for weeks (of note, alpacas are not aggressive animals, these wrestling matches only take place when I am doing something to them that they do not like, such as shots and trimming nails. The alpaca goes into fight or flight mode and really do think I am dangerous. I have never been attacked, and any spit or bruises have been the result of my grabbing them). I've never had a big alpaca like Lucy do more than spit on me. And in her case, she hasn't even done that. The most she does, is stand in my way and cluck as if to say "leave that baby alone." I don't think she's trying to be mean to me. She's not aggressive at all. I think she's just protecting her herd and still isn't sure she can trust me. In time, we will come to know each other better.

I do love that she is friendly and greets me. We have several friendly ones on our farm, and they quickly become our favorites.


Ertman-Trowbridge Family said...

I kind of liked Lucy. I think you have the keen eye (and correct one) to still be a little nervous and cautious. Has she ever had cria of her own?

Oak Haven Alpacas said...

Lucy is five years old, and had her first baby in 2008, then one is 2009, then was held open so no 2010 baby. She's pregnant and due in the Spring. So she's had 2 babies, but none this year. Maybe she feels like surogate mom to Ginger :)

I do like her. I've just not had one quite like her before. My husband thinks she's the herd guard. Within herd dynamics, each alpaca has a role. We've had some who sound the warning call, but never one that acts like a guardian. That explains her behavior of running up to everyone when they enter the pasture. I'll feel better after she's been here awhile and I know I can trust her not to be mean to people. She hasn't yet, and I don't think she will. We just need more trust in her to depend on that.

She is quickly becoming my buddy. I know she will always greet me and I won't be lonely out there :)

Cathy said...

Lucy has never been aggressive. She just has an odd personality. I have noticed her guarding all the crias. I too have had to repeatedly push her out of my way. If she were not pregnant, she would be very friendly, to the point of kushing if you touch her.
I think she does act like a surrogate mom.

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