Some great networking among some llama/alpaca people has resulted in a fabulous home for Martin. What delights me is not only the home but also the efficiency with which this happened – I emailed one person in the interior whom I’ve never met but whom I knew to be involved with llamas and alpacas; he forwarded my email to several others. One of those people, in another community, emailed someone else in yet another part of B.C. And that person then emailed someone else...whose location I’ll reveal shortly....a woman who has taken in many rescued and neglected animals, including alpacas, and offered them sanctuary and excellent care. That person, four networks removed from the person I originally emailed, contacted me to offer Martin a home.
We had several email discussions back and forth as I pummeled her with questions, asked for her thoughts on issues, and generally became confident that she and I shared a similar philosophy of animal stewardship. We discussed the best time to geld him, to shear him, to transport him, to introduce him to other alpacas. We discussed his vaccinations, his teeth and his toes. We talked about his personality and his history. And this weekend, I drove out to her farm to meet her, to see her animals, and most of all to watch how she interacted with them. And I liked what I saw!
I took my friend Else with me, a woman who grew up in farm country and who does homechecks for rescues, to help ensure that my assessment of the potential home was objective and not driven by the sense of “OMG I need to find a place for him!!!” I wanted to consider the caregiver, the animals in her care, the facilities, the commitment.......the whole kit and caboodle. That’s what a homecheck is all about – the fit between the animal needing care and the person/place offering it.
I liked Judy at first handshake – a friendly, down-to-earth sorta person with a welcoming smile and an obvious love of animals. I liked the setup – eight acres of rolling hills and tall trees, a pond, a barn and several shelters, small pens and larger pens, and lots of open pasture.
And I loved the animals. My heart melted when three-legged Jasper, a German Shepherd adopted from a rescue group some years ago, nuzzled my neck with his nose. It melted some more as three more rescue dogs emerged from various rooms to greet me, as well as a couple of rescued cats.
Then we headed outdoors, to meet the rest of Judy's multi-species family. I met the sheep – one rescued, and another obtained to keep the first one company. I met the goats, again including rescues. I met the four ducks who keep the bugs down and who astounded me with their beautiful varied colours (were they Muskovies? I can’t recall the breed!), and I heard the turkeys and saw the pleasure on Judy’s face when her friend brought her a just-laid turkey egg, the first, still warm to the touch. I met the two llamas, one of whom insisted on standing up on the fence railing to get a better look.
As we approached the pasture, Judy called for "the boys" - Martin's future alpaca family. And very quickly, their topknots appeared over the hill – first one, then another, then another, then a few more – all different colours, all obviously happy and healthy and fond of their caregiver. They range in age from 18 months to 13 years, and several are rescues. All but the youngest are gelded, and he will be done when he reaches 2 years of age. Judy introduced each one by name and told me about each personality. We talked about Martin and about alpacas in general. And I looked at the herd and knew, in my heart, this was the right home for my boy. My friend Else agreed wholeheartedly – we could not wish for a better place for him.
And so, on May 9th, almost six weeks after Martin gets the big snip (enough time for the testosterone to begin its decline), Judy and her friend Winnie will come to pick him up. He will travel home in style – in the back of her comfortable passenger van. He will spend a week in the paddock next to his new alpaca family, where he can see and hear and smell them over the fence. Then they will all be sheared, including Martin, and as they each come out of the shearing paddock, they will be released into the big field. Alpacas do not recognize each other after they’ve been sheared – their look of astonishment as they look at each other is quite comical - so shearing time is the ideal time to add a new member to their family. With other alpacas for company, and green grass to munch, and trees for shade and structures for warmth, that is where he shall live his life.
And just where is Martin’s new home to be, you ask? Less than half an hour from my new home on Vancouver Island. And yes, I have a standing invitation to visit him any time.
I love happily-ever-after endings.
The universe is unfolding as it should.