Ack! The alpacas got out!

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We had some extra excitement today! Just a little backstory… last time I cut hay with the swather, I got stuck. Actually, I only got one tire (out of three) stuck, but it was really making a nice round pothole and I couldn’t drive out of it, so I had to get the tractor to pull myself out, which worked fine. I left behind a round crater-shaped rut/pothole that I have been wanting to fill in so that we can go and finish cutting hay. Yes, it’s the latter part of September and I’m not done making hay. But at least the forecast is good — really good!

So, I used our riding lawn mower and a small utility trailer to haul some dirt/manure/wood shavings to fill in the pothole in the hay field. There were some nice molehills out there too, so I harvested them — I scraped the loose dirt off with a shovel and filled the utility trailer. I have been needing some nice loose dirt on the yard, and in particular, near the house.

A little more backstory: There are 3 areas of our yard. The hay field is out beyond the main yard. The alpacas (right now, it’s 5 of the boys) have access to the main yard during the day, which is all fenced to keep them in. Near the house and driveway, there is an area that is not fenced so when we drive on the yard, we aren’t going to be dodging alpacas right away. I’ll call this the “house yard.” To get onto the main yard from the house yard, we have to drive through the main gate.

Resuming my story: coming back from the field, I drove through one gate onto the main yard, past the boys who were lounging in the back, and then drove through the main gate that would let me into the house yard. Since I thought it wouldn’t take me long to unload the trailer, AND the alpacas were way off in the back part of the yard, I left the main gate open. Big mistake.

Once I finished unloading the dirt around the house, perhaps 5-7 minutes later, I hopped on the riding lawn mower and headed for the gate. I immediately saw the boys coming through the gate into the house yard! I sped up and shouted at them but all 5 boys came through the gate anyway! Don’t they know what a woman shouting from a riding lawn mower means!?!?

So here I was, the only one at home, with FIVE alpacas to chase back into the main yard BY MYSELF! Oh man. I ran around with my arms spread wide (that’s how we “round up” alpacas) trying to get them back through the gate. They split into 5 different directions, ran around where the raspberry bushes are, over by the car, and down the driveway! I sprinted down to the end of the driveway to chase them away from the road. I was so afraid they might wander onto the road and get hit by some truck driving by!

Imagine trying to get behind these guys and move them all together in one direction! By yourself! Not going to happen!

Somehow, I got Fozzie and Pigpen back through the main gate onto the main yard, so I closed the gate. They stood right there, of course, to watch me run around, trying to round up the others. But how could I get the rest of the boys back onto the main yard with the gate closed? If I opened it, Fozzie and Pigpen would just run back onto the house yard! Such buggers! So I opened a man-gate (just a bit wider than a person) that is closer to the house and continued trying to push the 3 remaining boys in that direction. They would scatter sometimes, as I chased them, and go into the secret garden past the strawberries. There’s a maple tree in the way, that they ran around too. At one point, two of them were near the metal gate and I thought if only it was open, they would go through. So ran over there, chased Fozzie and Pigpen away and opened that gate. Pigpen made his way over to the open man-gate and went back into the house yard! But, Ziggy and Frankie went through the metal gate, and I managed to manoever — half-chasing, pointing to the open gate, urging them on! — Alex and Pigpen through the main gate too.

Whew. That’s when I realized I was sweating like crazy. But I got it done.

I did not think I could do it. One person can’t chase 5 independent-thinking alpacas! I was madly formulating strategies: I thought I might have to halter them individually and drag them through, but it is NOT easy to catch and halter them; I have never done it solo, and doing it out in the open? Forget about it. I thought about flagging down the next person to drive by to be a human fence, just to keep them from running into the secret garden and raspberry area. I thought about calling a neighbour to help. My husband was at the garage with our truck, so he could not get back to help. I thought I might be late for work, with all this chasing! Thank goodness, they seemed to sense my urgency at the end and they finally went where they needed to go. After I was done, I put the riding lawn mower and told them boys that if that area was fenced, I would let them stay there and someday I would do that.

I am so grateful that none of the boys actually went on the road and got hit by traffic. I am so grateful that Fozzie and Pigpen went back easily. I am so grateful that the other boys eventually cooperated too. I got my sprinting workout for today — a bonus on my regular FarmFit program! It was an alpaca rodeo with a good outcome.

Take care everyone! I hope that you can go through today with some lightness and joy and perhaps imagining me running around, chasing ‘pacas as they scattered everywhere helped!

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