It’s not often that you find yourself making friends with llamas, horses, dogs, cats and geese, those of you that have geese may know they do not make fun pets but are great guard dogs! However that is where we find ourselves now, at a finca, surrounded by warm sunny skies and distant snow covered mountains. Tranquility at its best.
Our day starts with feeding time, first stop is looking after us; Rachael, Lizzy, a kiwi traveller, and myself, this is usually porridge with a banana and honey to set us up for the day, then it’s hay for the horses and llamas, vegetable scraps for the chickens and geese and dog and cat food for the rest. The horses took a little getting used to, they are country horses not throughbred racing horses, they have thick necks, wild manes and tails and chunky jaws, they often squabble with each other and kick up. We rode them once, our great plans of riding every day evaporated on the return route where all three horses, thinking they were homing pigeons in a race, galloped all the way home. One handed riding Argentina style came into its own as the other hand was free to hold onto the saddle for all it was worth. Rachael’s horse won by a long way, she said she just about managed to stay on but we had to walk back some way to collect her hat from the dusty trail. Anyway after that we started making friend with the horses each day during the feed. A bit of stroking and brushing seems to have made them more friendly. Maybe we will give riding another go? Next stop the chicken coup, unfortunately the chickens are not free to roam, I think this is due to a goose incident some time ago and is for their own safety. The two coups are reasonably sized and the have a small area that is curtained off for privacy and egg laying moments. They get half a bucket of vegetables or veggies as Lizzy says, thrown in from the door as they are so eagre for the food they have been known to escape. Whilst they are occupied with food we check out their private quarters for eggs which seem to be laid during the day and are ready for us to collect during the afternoon feed. Our favourites are next in line, two very curious and slightly scary llamas.
These are father and son, unfortunately mum and another baby died last year. Father and son seemed to get along fine, occassional sparing to be expected, which generally involves ankle biting as its the only exposed bit of flesh away from the face, but recently dad has been limping. No obvious wound but perhaps a bad fall. Maybe coincidently but since the fall we have had much more llama contact at feeding time, dad happily takes food from our hands, dads goaty beard also gets a stroke at the same time. Llamas are camalids, members of the camel family and have a very dextrous split top lip that almost acts like fingers at feeding time, delicately picking through corn and oats from our hands. I think this is everyones favourite activity.
Finally geese need feeding. This is a finely timed routine, Lizzy has a bite on her leg which reminds us all of the terror beneath the fluffy white feathers; part one open the gate slowly, ensure geese are heading away from you, don’t walk too fast across the pen give them space and time to waddle off to the water, once they plop into the water dash for the nests and, keeping one eye on Mr Gander, check for delicious goose eggs, finally retrace your steps and when the gate is within reach tip out the bucket of food. Gently close the gate and congratulate yourself in remaining wound free.
Cats and dogs, well…
some get special treatment, I can’t believe my wife is feeding Wally from a yogurt pot at the dining table, I’d usually get disapproving looks for doing this on my own, let alone with Wally!
Life at Calmelita, calm by name calm by nature.