My friend Elizabeth stopped by Monday morning to ask for some help. She had a very sick llama and had a favor to ask of me. This is the time in the spring that parasites raise their ugly little heads and work very hard to make our livestock sick. I'm not interested in talking about the balance of nature at this point - we just need to eradicate all of the little nasties forever and take what comes in their absence. OK. It's just possible the world is better off in the long run without me having that power but that's how I feel right now.
Elizabeth's llama was down and needed a blood transfusion and she came by to ask if I would be willing to have one of my llamas donate blood. Of course, I'm willing. This is what friends are for. I really hoped Rocky would be alright.
I've never had to have a blood transfusion for one of my llamas but we have gone through the procedure for the goats a couple of times. The problem is that by the time an animal needs a blood transfusion they are really really sick and the prognosis is dim. Paxton survived his blood transfusion well but had to be put down years later because he was so sensitive to parasites he needed another transfusion that had a high probability of killing him. Piper got a transfusion but didn't survive that episode.
Yesterday morning I separated the goats and alpacas and got the llamas into the barn to feed. I had hoped the vet would be by here to collect the blood but it turned out to be a much more complicated plan. Elizabeth found a wonderful man with a truck and trailer to pick up her sick llama. She had to use the front end loader on her tractor to get Rocky into the trailer. That sounds ghastly but she said it went really well and I thought he looked pretty comfortable when they arrived here. They came by here to collect all four of my llamas. The vet decided to take one liter of blood from each of my llamas. He thought Rocky would need about four liters of blood and this way none of my llamas would be negatively impacted by the donation.
In the normal course of life out here, my llamas only get haltered and lead around when Sean Price comes out to shear them in the spring. Sean is a llama whisperer and always manages the process with accomplished ease. But this morning I was the one who had to put a halter on one of my llamas and get it into the back of the trailer. We tried herding them into the trailer first but that was a complete non-starter. None of my four llamas was willing to be the first one into the trailer. No matter how hard we pushed or cajoled or pleaded or poked, the answer was always a loud and emphatic NO! So we put Tucker and Stash back into a stall and I walked in there with a halter and a lead rope and managed to dance around long enough to get Stash haltered. That is a first for me. I had never done it before. That's probably an indication of some horrible lack of focus and motivation on my part.... but I digress. Neither of us was frantic or upset which is probably why it went so well. And Stash, bless his heart, walked very calmly next to me across the barn and into the trailer. It took about 15 seconds for the others to decide that if Stash wasn't eaten by the scary trailer maybe they would be fine too. By the time they all piled in, I was squished into a corner but they were all calm enough to let me push my way through their shaggy bodies and get to the door.
In the end, the story is a sad one. Rocky died at the vet's before they had a chance to transfuse him. Elizabeth is devastated. She loves all her llamas but Rocky was her first and most lovable. My llamas had a nice ride into town, spent some time in a pen at the vet's and had a nice ride home. I learned that I can get a halter on them if I need to. I will be ready in case this ever happens again.