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Did you know ice can be stubborn? Well, it can. Especially in springtime. And especially in Minnesota. And most especially when you want your baby alpaca to come home but the ice is preventing the barn doors from opening and the baby alpaca can’t come home until the doors are open so he and the other alpacas have lots of space to get used to each other. *deep breath*
But… finally… the ice was gone, thanks to a couple warm days and a lot of hard work from Linda.
On Saturday, April 6, I drove to Foggy Bottom with butterflies in my tummy, knowing that today was the day. At long last, Ollie was coming home! When I arrived at Foggy Bottom, both Mark and Barb were there, ready to help on Ollie’s Big Day! *trumpeting fanfare*
First, we trimmed Ollie’s toenails so he would be all spiffy. Since a halter makes it easier to get him in and out of the vehicle, as well as walk with him, I put one on him and led him around for a bit so he could get used to it.
At first Ollie wasn’t too sure…
…but once he got accustomed to it, he did great and looked very sophisticated.
Next, he was weighed, coming in at 73 pounds!
So hard to believe that the first time I saw him he was only 17.8 pounds.
After that, Barb fed him a special syrup called Nutri-Drench, which provided extra vitamins to keep his tummy in balance and gave him a bit of a boost for the stressful day. She also gave me some extra grain and hay to help transition him to the new food at Linda’s, and then it was time to get him into the Foggy Bottom minivan.
As Ollie stood quaking in the van (scary new place + first time he was ever alone!), my heart went out to him and I got teary-eyed, but I knew he was safe and would be okay, even if he didn’t understand that yet. Then, we began the drive to Linda’s house, me in the front in my little car and Mark following behind me in the minivan with Ollie. (Barb couldn’t come with us, as there was a cria due to be born at the farm that day so she had to stay behind just in case!) Mark told me Ollie kushed (sat down) about five minutes into the ride and settled in, so he relaxed after a while and realized there was nothing to be afraid of.
Once we arrived, Mark opened the door, then led Ollie out of the minivan…
…and we walked to the barn where Linda’s existing alpacas live.
Mark gave Ollie a final hug, whispered some words of encouragement, then released him so he could meet his new family! It is clear that he and Barb (and Sara!) care for Ollie very much and, though they were happy to see him go to a new home, it was still hard to say goodbye.
There was quite the crowd (of humans) to greet Ollie! Along with me, Linda, and Mark, my husband, Logan, was there, as was Linda’s husband, Chad, who had brought his camera and got some of the beautiful photos you will soon see. (Fun behind-the-scenes note: Chad is the head photographer for Blue Sky Alpacas. I felt very honored to have him there to catch this special moment in Ollie’s life.) As Ollie slowly made his way to the fenceline, Mark got to visit with Mr. Jones, who came from Foggy Bottom just like Ollie!
Here they all are, seeing each other for the first time! (Is it just me, or does Ollie look really relieved to see other alpacas? :D)
Here is the same picture from Chad’s point of view—you can see Linda’s existing alpacas approaching as cautiously as Ollie did!
Now everyone moves closer to get a better look…
Ollie is on the left, then Mr. Jones is the dark one in the middle, then Cassius is on the right, and Reggie is hiding in the back. Here is that same photo from Chad’s point of view! Cool!
Then, Mr. Jones came rushing out to greet Ollie!
Here are big brother and little brother, getting acquainted!
After some encouragement…
…Mr. Jones led Ollie into the yard so Ollie could greet Reggie and Cassius up close.
They all stood around together for long minutes, busily smelling each other and getting acquainted. Then, they wandered off to explore, with Ollie in the lead.
At this point, I put my own camera down so I could just enjoy the moment, but, fortunately, Chad was there with his camera!
Under the watchful eye of the rest of the herd, Ollie wandered around, occasionally interacting, but also just figuring out what all this means. I was even able to get some special cuddle time with Ollie, which Chad got on film! These are very special photos because probably this type of thing will not happen again—as he should be, Ollie is bonded to his new herd, not to me, and these moments were briefly allowed by him in all the confusion as he sorted things out.
As time went on, the other humans dispersed and it was just me and Linda with the four alpaca boys. We watched as Ollie kept a respectful distance from the other alpacas, trying to introduce himself without being overbearing. Reggie, the leader of the herd, did plenty of shows of studliness to make sure that everyone understood that he was still in charge. We even saw Ollie asking Reggie if he could be a part of their family, and watched him share food with the others. Such a good boy with a friendly nature and a good heart!
Once again, Ollie showed me how not to be nervous and to trust that he is part of something very old. He knows what to do instinctively, how to engage the other alpacas and be accepted, and he is resilient and brave. I was bursting with pride at how well he did, taking a very stressful day in stride, while being so sweet to his new herd.
Our final update in the Ollie series will be Ollie’s first shearing, my plans for what to do with his fiber, and a very special giveaway, so keep your eyes out for the final installment! (Don’t you worry, Ollie fans! I’ll be sure to pop in with occasional updates on how he is doing at Linda’s; it just won’t be nearly as often, as now that he is leaving criahood his life will move into a comfortable routine. ^_^)