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Return of the Temp
Author: Bethany Cole
Some of you may recall that last year Brian and I left our herd in the capable hands of my brother, Dane. Regardless of what you may recall from Danes previous journal entries, it didnt take too much arm twisting to convince him to return for a second stint at being an alpaca farmer. I hope you all enjoy the sequel.
~Bethany Cole of Vermont Alpaca Company
Return of the Temp
Hmm, Beth and Brian are going somewhere warm, so there must be a cold snap coming. Will March roll in like a lion and out like a cria, or however that saying goes? I guess Ill pretend to be an alpaca rancher for a few days without the colossal expenses, marketing concerns, and other immeasurable responsibilities.
- Thermometer reads 0 degrees at 0630 hours. Am prepared with liner in my now officially used in a barn barn coat. (Smell me. See, I do so work on a farm!)
- The crowd eagerly awaits breakfast. Some nod with recognition while others feign indifference at seeing me again. We can catch up later, but first We Must Eat. NOW!
- Gave each group Todays Special: grain, hay, and water. Having trouble putting names to faces as theyve have moved their bunks and changed hair styles which is throwing me off.
- Former nemesis Nikko is not so cheeky now that hes roaming with the Old Boyz Club. Classic small fish in big pond effect. Too bad - I was ready to spar. Ni-kizzle, you fizzle!
- Nimbus aka Steroids Dog is very interested in bucklure stain on my insulated hunting pants, gives extra hard crotch sniff. I lean on shovel until dizziness passes.
- Bad memories returning. All shovels known to mankind are futile against frozen poop glaciers.
- Located newspaper in bright orange bag at end of driveway where deposited by rural delivery. Remodeling contractors have already driven over it seven times.
- Joani, my best wife and number one tolerator, joins me this afternoon. Her teacher friends are spending school break at various exotic destinations so I promise her a good time also. To display her gratitude, she avoids dropping the hay bales we move, directly onto my head. She later shows her good character and P.E. skills by leading the Weanlings in a spirited game of Duck Duck Goose.
- While alpacas catch their afternoon siesta, we take Beths puppy, a lab-poodle-beaver mix, for a trek through deep snow in the woods. We naively believe it will make him weary and thus less prone to dragging the entire contents of the house around said house. Understandably, snowshoes are tricky to use when a small dog stands on the back. However, the same dog under a snowshoe does prevent one from sinking too deeply.
- To show appreciation for wifes company and good attitude, we go to a nice local restaurant where she does not have to unwrap her food.
- New puppy goes out every ten minutes. Chews something forbidden every five minutes. Freaking me out in evening by staring at windows and growling. Alpaca Rustlers? Peepers?
- Switched hunting pants to avoid getting goosed by Nimbus.
- Most animals appear delighted to see me in morning, although some were checking the clock impatiently. Several make goo-goo eyes since the word is out that Im a good provider. Grain time is such a joyful time! I feel like Oprah on Christmas!
- Put 10 gallons of water into Mom + Tots holding bucket today, but havent seen anyone drink. How do they do that?
- I adeptly plow driveway with Brians new pickup while recalling his final instructions of Dont drive the new truck off the bridge into the river. Sure, like I meant to do it. I know I am on the road when I hear stones pinging off the blade. No pinging means steer the other way.
- Wife offers to ride shotgun. After striking dashboard twice, she decides to go read the newspaper so as to not be complicit should anything happen to truck. I remind her to stick to story of blaming mailbox incident on highway crew again.
- Cold temps being made unpleasant by strong wind. Local flashers are resorting to describing themselves. Squirrels are throwing themselves on electric fence in order to warm up.
- Storm lets up. Wife sees her opening to retreat to city life, maintaining she doesnt want to distract me from my work with alpaca training and Cujo-puppy handling. She is evidently envious of their deep respect and esteem for me.
- Gave Smelly Puppy a bath. Too much fun for one person. Now smells like rose hips with Vitamin E and jojoba.
- Must vacuum hay from pockets to avoid clogging washing machine again.
- Puppy only eats socks and underwear. Contractors think Im yelling at them and walk off the job.
- Cant find one glove. Am setting up dragnet for small, hairy suspect.
- No break in cold weather. Some alpacas are demanding their fiber back. Will comb the area for it.
- Put grain in 10 dishes and two troughs and everyone still frantically zooms in on the first one filled.
- This morning is a scene from Revenge of the Turds. Poop piles are vast and scattered. You guys are being cruel now. Im just one man!
- Got double hernia before realizing there was a flat tire on the poop cart. Plugged in compressor to inflate tire and tripped circuit breaker. I know this is just a test.
- Cliff Clayburn, United State Postal Service employee reporting - It is a little known fact that the average alpaca can poop three-fourths of its body weight in less than a day.
- Nose is chapped from wiping it with back of scratchy glove. Handkerchief is semi-frozen in pocket and no better than 100 grit sandpaper. Putting lip balm on nose.
- Put up posters to announce pending Easter grain hunt. Lots of interest in Moms and Tot group about dressing up in new halters. Celeste reminds me about her peanut allergy, so I will order a special basket.
- Left gift bag of jelly beans for UPS man. Lots of black ones this time.
- Deputy Dawg Nimbus barks while I am working on stall door. Peeked outside and saw alpaca standing in driveway looking in, not out. First thought: Wow! A wild alpaca! Also briefly considered odds that it came from neighbors
except for they dont have alpacas. Prison Break!
- Using natural ninja stealth (and grain), fugitive is taken into custody. Resisting wrongdoer is dragged back to the Old Boyz Club in full view of his seven cell mates who report they tried to stop him. Nikko welcomes him back with a shameful attempt to render him neutered.
- Fixed gate on Bad Boyz Club and installed security camera to see if others are co-conspirators.
- Woke up to sound of puppy gaking. Found missing glove.
- Balmy 20 degrees at 0600 hours. Heavy fog surrounds the compound and the trees are shiny with ice crystals.
- An occasional whining is heard this morning, but I take some Ibuprofen and cowboy up.
- Found Sunday paper in snow bank. Calculations of divots to final point of rest indicate delivery made at no less than 63 MPH.
- Sun comes out strong, temp soars to 40 degrees, snow melting fast. Driveway is now visible. I was close most of the time.
- Warm weather has started the dreaded softening of the formerly frozen poop piles. What formerly was a single cart load cleanup, has become two cart loads due to the alpaca adobe brick chunks that come up with the rake. Will attempt to dry chunks in sun and see if they are useful for building. Or maybe they will burn, thus eliminating excessive oil dependency and improving Global Warming situation!
- Brought large blue tarp out to herd sires so they could make a slip n slide on snow piles. That Pompi is a maniac!
- Weanlings have built large snow Farmer. Didnt use traditional coal for eyes as other material was readily located. They giggled until hay came out their noses.
- Goat Dog is driving me crazy. I tape liver snack on his back end so he will give me 5 minutes of peace. Is now spinning like hairy top. Counterclockwise
· Warm temps have made yard sloppy and animals are tracking up barn. Shouldnt this next period be called Muck Season instead of Mud Season? Have ordered 25 dozen bristle door mats from Pottery Barn to spread around.
· Discussed with herd the possibility of using the entire paddock, reminding them that good weather should bring good hygiene practices, SO STOP POOPING IN THE BARN ALREADY!
· Another tour of duty is finished. Its time to head north with my renewed respect (and envy) for those folks who get to enjoy the Alpaca Lifestyle fulltime.
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