4/16/99 - Sutter's Mill
Llama babies are miraculous on several counts, not the least of which is the way in which they so quickly capture a piece of your heart. It was almost as if we had known each other forever, as if her birth was a reunion instead of a first meeting.
Dixie Belle was born last Sunday morning. Fancy, her mom, had patiently awaited her arrival for nearly a year. She was her father Kudos' first born - a very special event indeed! Her birth took a bit longer than normal, but was otherwise unremarkable, and she first saw the light of day in the number 3 stall of the main barn. Right away it was easy to see how pretty she was - Twenty-seven pounds with dark gray and white wool that promised to grow long and soft.
But baby llamas are supposed to stand up in no more than an hour or two, and it soon became evident that Dixie couldn't figure out how. Her front legs vigorously scratched at the ground, but they weren't coordinated, and she had no sense of balance. Of course if baby can't stand, baby can't nurse. Fancy paced and hummed. We broke out our standby supply of frozen goat colostrum and got ready to help mom feed her hungry new baby.
The next day Dixie's front legs had settle down, and although she couldn't stand by herself, she sat up straight and had a good appetite. Pleasant spring weather had finally arrived at Sutter's Mill, so we brought mom and baby up to the front lawn where they could enjoy the sunshine. Many of our llama friends offered advice, and the consensus was that Dixie would grow out of her slow start with lots of love from her mom and us.
She had plenty of that, and she gave it all back in warm woolly hugs and cuddles. Fancy gave us lots of milk to help with feedings, and Dixie gained weight as she gobbled up
Dixie made progress over the next couple of days as we helped her to practice standing and walking. By Wednesday she could just about get up on her own, and once on her feet she could wobble around for nearly a minute before collapsing back to the lawn in a tangle of uncooperative llama legs. We gave her a little visor to keep the sun out of her eyes. She worked so hard - especially when we pointed her toward her mom. Fancy stood absolutely still while Dixie bobbed around under her looking for a first real meal. She never quite got there.
On Thursday Dixie seemed tired and less interested in trying to walk. She and Fancy spent the day on the lawn in front of our house. While Dixie lay in the shade of a big oak tree, Fancy grazed among the grass and bushes on the hillside, never taking her eye from her daughter for more than a minute or two. As we tucked them in for the night in the number 3 stall, Dixie's front legs trembled a bit. Fancy hummed and worried, just as she had much of time since Sunday.
The next morning Dixie was gone. Her woolly softness remained, as if asleep in the straw, but her spirit had departed during the night.
Llama babies are miraculous. She was with us for less than five days, but Dixie Belle will live forever in the piece of our hearts that she captured with her llama love..
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