Alpaca Right Now!
Earlier this week KDKH enquired as to whether l had any experience with Alpacas and l do. I worked with this particular species several times between 2001 – 2008. This is one particular tale that occured in 2003. It is not as momentous an occasion as the earlier Rupert story, but it is still etched firmly in my head if not nore so on my back, legs, bottom and thighs!
In the summer of 2003, l received a call from a friend of mine stating that he required my assistance with a ‘special deal’ he had made with one of his clients, and that he would appreciate my help with a delivery up north. I was based in Lincolnshire, whilst my friend was in Norfolk, and we had to travel to a motorway services just over the Scottish border by the name of Gretna Green where we were to meet his client who ran a relatively large private collection of species mostly agricultural livestock. I knew the client as l had brokered a few transactions there myself, he was a kind of family run farm park in Scotland.
On the day that my friend picked me up, l noted that he was indeed travelling with a large trailer, if you think large commercial horse box, you will have an idea. “Morning Rory, are you awake yet? We have a lot of driving to complete and l thought l would need some of quirky wit to help keep me awake and stimulated.” Wayne said as l hopped up into front of the truck.
It was early, maybe just around 5am when we set off. “So what are you hauling Wayne? Farm stock?”
“Yes. We are carrying 12 animals.” Wayne piped cheerfully.
“Ok, that’s quite vague. It’s not cows is it?” I asked.
“No, it’s not cows, but they do have legs!”
“Oh come on, enough with this, l might be chirpy chirpy cheep cheep, but l am yet to have my morning coffee. What are we carrying?”
“Well let me see, did you bring any coffee with you, any lunch, anything?” He asked smiling.
“What? You have lost me, what is the relevance to my lunch?”
“Well you know, did you pack it? Did you say to your wife when she offered to make you lunch [ha ha] “Don’t worry, Alpaca it?”
“What? Alpaca it?” I asked now totally befuddled. “She never does that, she …. Oh wait a moment … Alpaca as in Alpacas?”
“Yes we have 12 female Alpacas on board. Oh they are lovely Rory, you will like them. Perhaps a little energetic, but nowhere near your adventures with your llama!!”
Certain tales in my life have a way of continually living on l have noted over the years, swans flying, frogs running, cows jumping and now llamas mating and any more to the mix and it might start to sound like a Christmas carol! “Oh very droll Wayne, very droll indeed! Twelve is a lot, does he have an extremely randy male or just wants to fill out his immense grounds somewhat?”
“Oh both, he has a stud, wants to start breeding.”
The journey up was quite tedious. Long before l knew l was on the spectrum, l was never a particularly good car passenger. I was fidgety and prone to sudden outbursts of movement quite sudden and disadvantageous to drivers. Ask Suze and she would tell you that l am much better these days in comparison to our first ever date out ha ha, but another story!
I had taken reading material with me, but was becoming bored. When you are transporting livestock, you do have certain restrictions as they cannot be in the loader for too long and l knew Wayne was conscious of this and so our stops were few and far between. However with a mere two biological stops, we managed to make good time and arrived at Gretna Green at around midday.
We met with the client, and after a quick coffee and a walkabout decided that we would make the final leg of our journey to a small holding the client had arranged for overnight stay, feeding and sleeping arrangements for his charges before he transported them to his own farm the next day.
When we arrived at the farm in question, prior to this, l had not actually seen any of the Alpacas themselves, so l had no idea really what to expect from them. I had limited experience with the species in larger numbers, having only worked with twos and threes prior to this. Also, whilst l was used to energetic behaviour what l wasn’t used to was abundantly motivated and enthusiastically adventurous!
We were parked up next to the holding area, and once the tail gate was down it would simply be a case of ‘gently herding’ them into the open pen, which had been prepared by the client’s farmer friend that morning.
Gentle herding as a term is not what l would class as the experience that followed. It reminded me of that scene from Jumanji – the stampede! They were all lying down in the back in the straw, very peaceful like, quite deceptive in many ways. They looked almost sleepy, but then one simply opened its eyes and then as if a switch had been flipped all eyes were open and fixed on us. It was daunting. As one body they rose, even more daunting.
I looked rather nervously at Wayne, “Is this normal – it is all very Midwich Cuckoo you know? Quite spooky the way they are just looking at us that way. Are you sure they are ok?”
“Yes they are fine Rory, they are just anxious about getting out and stretching their legs. Right, once we open the gate, the sides will form a side wall and we just direct them with our hands and ‘herd’ them into the pen, done this hundreds of times, they will be fine.”
Admittedly l was feeling a little anxious. We opened the gates, made the side walls and l was just about to step down the tail gate ramp when l heard this strange noise like an odd bird, a crow or something, which didn’t help with my agitation that something, not sure what, but most assuredly something was not quite right?”
As l walked down the ramp, all l heard was Wayne yell, “Rory, watch ou …!”
I think what he was going to say was ‘Rory watch out!” In fact l know that is what he was saying, but you see, l didn’t hear that. What l did hear, see and take in in the space of around 3 seconds were furry eyes bearing down on me fast!
In essence that’s all l really remember! I was suddenly hit hard by bodies slamming into me and experiencing the somersaulting motion as l was bowled and rolled over by 12 Alpacas ‘gently herding’ themselves out of the back of the transporter. I was once hit by a train, and whilst the impact wasn’t as hard as that, none the less, it still hurt. I have a vague recollection of at least a dozen legs running over my legs and back. But luckily my head wasn’t trodden on!
It all happened in the space of l would say about 5 maybe 7 seconds, and when l managed to scrape myself off the ramp, and realised that if anything l had remarkably only been clipped by the mini herd that l realised just how very lucky l had actually been. I knew l would be bloody painful the next day if indeed not later on during the journey home, but for the moment l didn’t have any broken bones, maybe just yet another case of wounded pride.
Another beast had managed to best me and this was fast becoming the ethos behind my very nature! Accidental didn’t even come close to it. It was not helped further by Wayne’s comment of “Ooh dear that looked nasty are you ok, can you get up or shall Alpaca you up?”
Ignoring him and his wittiness, l managed to get up and hobbled over to the pen where the farmer and the client were admiring the stock, and the animals themselves were now simply munching and humming to each other [yes Alpacas hum when communicating to each other] in pleasure. The client looked over with a sly smile on his face and suggested that it was ‘rather nice’ that l had used my body as a welcome mat to his new beauties!
I learned fast in the industry that UNLESS you were actually losing body fluids, no accident was really that troublesome. The journey back was somewhat uneventful apart from a few wise cracks from Wayne concerning Alpacalypse like behaviours and the usual Alpaca you up jokes, bloody drama llamas and oh yes, that it was highly amusing that l had been llaminated!
The next day, l was indeed sore, l had a cracked rib and so the doctor informed me probably a chipped elbow, never mind the countless bruises and squashed muscles. It took me near on six weeks to recover from my llamination!
But hey ho, twas just another day for the Accidental Doolittle l feel.
Anyway, thanks for reading.