Monday, 4 July 2011

It's that time of year again

When I lived in Cambridge, the sun on the Cam always gave me a reflex stress reaction.  Beautiful weather meant I should be revising, or marking things, or just that the year was ending sooner than it felt like it should, plus suddenly there would be irritating undergraduates wandering the streets in black tie without shame, and I had to put all that extra effort into not hating them.  Devon has different stresses.  In June my parents start fretting about getting the hay in (hay news: it's nearly all in now, and there isn't too much less than last year) and every day my mother says "I really think XXX is going to have her baby today".  Whichever alpaca XXX might be, she laughs at this prediction for weeks on end, until I am alone in the house and then she goes into labour as quickly and incorrectly as possible.  Here if you want it is video footage of me discovering this morning's problem.  Caution!  I swear in this video.  I don't swear very often but when I do it's justified.

The baby's head and one front leg are out, but one leg isn't, and I know from last time that this means that the head and leg have to go back inside and come out again properly, with the other leg.  Not only am I a little squeamish about greasing up and doing the Herriot thing, I also know that alpaca legs are long and twig-like, there's not much room for manouevre in there, and that if you break its leg you've pretty much killed it. Plus there's the possibility of suffocating the baby if it's already breathing.  Anyway, I didn't even try to do it myself, I just called the vet.  Two of them arrived about thirty minutes later and within seconds they had sorted everything out.  Hurray for vets! The baby is a boy called Kenelm.  As I type I can see him making vague attempts to stand up.  But they both look in reasonably good shape, so as long as he's on his feet and suckling by nightfall hopefully this story will have a happy ending.

And, because nature is both great and disgusting at the same time, I have just seen my first ever Red Kite in Devon, circling above our paddock, presumably lured by the scent of fresh afterbirth.  Buzzards have such a stronghold here that Kites are much more rare in Devon than they are in, say, Swindon.  Exciting stuff.  (Thankfully my mother is back now so it's up to her to go out with a bucket and spade or alternatively just leave the afterbirth out for a sky burial.)

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