It's 6am on Sunday morning and I have finally found some time to write this blog. The day job has encroached far too much this week leaving little time for anything but chores, family time and eating.
Yesterday I was up once again at 'sparrow fart' for an early morning jaunt to South West Cornwall with the newly decorated trailer. It was a day that I had both dreaded and looked forward to all week. The reason I was going to Cornwall was to drop Judy, my adversary, off at Carthvean Alpacas, the home of Camelidynamcs expert, Julie Taylor-Browne. I was dreading it in a way because I knew that it could be difficult getting Judy into the trailer and away from her cria. There was a potential for some argy bargy.
Regular readers will know that Judy is not my favourite alpaca in the world. She has covered me several times from head to toe in spit and we have 'had words' on many occasions.
Judy came to us three years ago as a 'managed alpaca'. Her owner lives in Australia and has a small herd of alpacas as an investment. We looked after Judy and we split any profits from cria sales with her owner.
Throughout those three years Judy has been very difficult to deal with and has been a constant source of annoyance and frustration to me. When you try to help an animal to stay healthy by good husbandry and are attacked for your efforts it does get a little trying. Spitting whilst being handled I can cope with. We all have alpacas that will turn the air green when you're sticking a needle into them or giving them a pedicure.
The vast majority of them stop the aerial bombardment once you stop your 'fiddling'. Well with Judy this was not the case. Judy wouldn't let it lie. Once you finished handling her and walked away or pushed her through a gate so that she could escape you would have thought that was game over.
But no, Judy wouldn't have that, she had to have the last word. She would turn and come back for more, with her protective spray of green to the fore she would come back and have a go.
This led to several confrontations that I would rather forget, but this is a 'warts and all' blog, nothing is covered up here, even stuff that I am not proud of.
I am not used to being intimidated and in my day job I can't allow that to happen, I have to be the 'winner' of all confrontational situations. It's what I get paid for. You can't have Policemen (and women) walking away from situations because they feel intimidated. We have to crack on and deal with people no matter how scary they look. So it comes naturally to me, in Judy head to heads, that I must end up with the upper hand. I can't help it.
I aways give her the opportunity to walk away. I always hope and pray that she does walk away and most of the time she does. But sometimes Judy would not walk away, she would advance upon me. I would try and walk away initially, again to give her the opportunity to stop but once 'tipped over the edge', I would advance on Judy and force her to go away. As I said I am not proud of the way I acted sometimes but it is the way I am programmed.
My fears of loading were allayed when Judy went into the trailer easily and without fuss. The first pangs of guilt struck then. In a way we feel that we have let Judy down. She was undoubtedly mistreated when young and has a very strong fear of humans and although we have tried hard for three years we haven't made a huge amount of progress overall. We have had times when she has been better than at other times but every now and then we would have a setback and would be back at square one, sometimes back beyond square one! Overwhelmingly our main feeling about Judy is that we feel sorry for her. We just want her to be loved and to feel loved. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than to have Judy eat out of my hand. It did happen once but was quickly followed up with a very green thank you.
Judy is an excellent mother and has given birth three times whilst she has been with us. The first year she was here she produced the lovely Sophie (named after the vet who pulled her out) who is now resident at Clover Park Alpacas in the midlands.
The second year sadly she gave birth to a stillborn male cria. Early separation of the placenta was the cause. Why it happened we have no idea.
Last year Judy had a 'textbook' birth and produced Sampson, a Wessex Cosmos boy who is a healthy strapping weanling with masses of fleece. Here he is on day one with Judy, a tremendous mother.
So anyway, yesterdays trip was to rehome Judy with Julie Taylor-Browne who has all the skills necessary to deal with awkward alpacas. Judy's owner gave us Judy, and in turn we have given her to Julie. She looked to be settling in well when I left and I know she will have a great life down there in sunny Cornwall.
On the way home I was strangely sad and in some surprising and ridiculous way I'll miss the old bat.