I had to move sheep tonight, including the new llama. Buckley is a tall white creature who would be elegant if he did not react to any intrusion on his world by screaming and spitting. Since our first few interactions have shown that he loathes the halter but does not mind the trailer I decided to just herd him into the trailer on the last load with a few sheep and the other llama. It started out rather well. He was willing to run down towards the trailer to join the last of his pasture mates. Then he changed his mind. I started moving to block his escapes and push him back down towards the trailer. He started grunting and groaning. I held my ground. He started screaming. Between screams you heard the telltale gurgling as he prepared vile mouthfuls of rumen contents as ammunition. He’d come towards me screaming and gurgling, whipping his tall white neck back like a dragon ready to blast me with flames. He waited carefully to spit till he was within range. I went right back at him, arms raised out to the sides with a buggy whip in one hand. It was like a battle in some medieval fantasy “Maria Slays the Dragon”. He got louder and faster and more aggressive. I kept meeting him half way, arms out and up, moving fast into his space and using the whip every time he pushed into me or tried to spit. In all this he noticed that when he backed off the pressure so did I. He got quieter, the screaming stopped, the gurgling stopped, and I was able to slowly work him down and into the trailer.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
The trees around the pond are beginning to turn, green softening with just a few precocious leaves donning a full autumn red. The sun is still hot, but at a much lower angle. As I walk to the gate to take the dogs out swimming my thoughts are turning to the dog sled. The group I’m swimming will be the dogs on my team this year. They are crazy, completely nuts. They bark and scream with frustration when they can’t power themselves through the water fast enough. They slice and angle and compete with one another as we round the little island. I sit comfortably in my kayak and watch this mayhem against the red leaves reflected in the water. Sometimes I imagine the force of these dogs when I first pull the release on the sled. I remember I’ll be standing on a conveyance powered by seven gloriously athletic and exuberant dogs, celebrating the stretch of their legs with no concept of my sometimes dicey ride behind them. I remind myself that I have brakes, lots of them. There’s a drag mat brake, a bar brake, a snow hook. I think my first run will be on a familiar rail trail, a longish drive, but well tended and quite straight, lovely and safe.
Posted by Maria Amodei at 2:55 PM