Yesterday I had a very nasty altercation with an alpaca. I may have mentioned this particular alpaca before, her name is Coolaroo Judah and she is a big white Australian female about 8 years old.
She doesn't belong to us, her owner now lives in Australia. Judy has been with us for almost three years and has been a constant trouble to deal with. She is petrified of human contact and will do virtually anything to get away from me in particular. This isn't good as I obviously have to inject, drench, clip, shear and generally look after her. She doesn't make it easy.
A few months ago she covered me in spit for daring to try and inject her. I literally had to manhandle her away so that I could get on with the rest of the herd. I was not a happy bunny.
Since then I have been working very hard to keep her calm by acting very calmly around her. I always have her penned with half a dozen other girls so that I can sort of sneak in and jab by stealth. It seemed to be working and I was happy that we were making progress.
Yesterday I went out to give some medication to her cria, Samson who is almost 5 months old.
It was raining and blowing a gale so I decided that instead of rounding up the herd into the outdoor handling area I would get the animals into the field shelter where I could work in the dry. Mistake number one - a break from routine.
The first three animals through the gate were Judy, Samson and Minstrel who I also needed to have a look at. Great I thought and shut the gate leaving the rest of the herd in the field. Mistake number two - isolated from the herd.
I then turned my back on Judy to get to Samson. Mistake number three - a threat to her cria.
The first I knew something was wrong was when the biggest gobfull of spit hit me fairly and squarely in the back of the head. I turned round immediately to receive an equally large amount fairly and squarely in the middle of my face. She was advancing on me and I had to take evasive action as the greenness descended upon me. I have never seen so much spit.
Even out of the way and away from Samson she continued to advance and the spit continued to flow. Once again I had to use physical force to defend myself and get her away from me. I don't think she was going to do anything else, she had ample opportunity when my back was to her at the beginning of this episode but nevertheless it certainly got the adrenalin flowing. Finally, and I am not proud of this I threw a bucket of water at her and then the bucket. Throughout the episode and again I am not proud of this I was shouting obscenities at her, so much so that I have almost lost my voice. I know, not big or clever or indeed helpful but there we go.
It has given me cause to think about what her state of mind was at the time. She was obviously of the opinion (do alpacas have opinions?) that I was going to eat her cria and then eat her, and I'm not joking.
I should have thought more about how I dealt with her, I should have been more on the ball, I should have stuck to the routine that I was using beforehand.
So, in short, I would still like her to go away, but it was probably all my own fault.