Martin's Big Snip: The Recovery
Saturday: I was up at the crack of dawn to check on my patient. Martin was still sitting in exactly the same spot as the night before – out in the open area of the pen, staring at the gate to the pasture. There was a heavy frost on the ground and on his fleece, but he seemed content enough so I let him be. The light on the eastern horizon gave promise to a beautiful day, and the bells of the nearby Westminster Abbey pealed through the air, calling all monks and farmers to rise from their beds.
I fed the pigs and then proceeded, as I always do, to offer Martin his grains and sliced apple and greens. As I entered his pen, I noted he had recently stood up to eliminate his rabbit-like poops in his usual spot, and had resettled himself near the gate. I put his grains in the usual bowl in the shelter, but I scattered the apple and lettuce bits around the pen hoping to encourage him to move about a bit. Movement, the vet had told me, will help reduce the swelling and hasten his recovery.
I took the dogs for their run in the pasture, and then returned to check on Martin. He was standing at his gate - grain, hay, water and apple bits untouched. Time to let him out – I opened the gate and he immediately strutted past me and up the path.
Freedom at lastNo sign of blood or infection on his back end; the only indicator anything was amiss was his tendency to walk as if he had just dismounted from a long trip on a horse. I made a note to keep an eye on that – it should disappear quickly according to the vet; if not, a call back is in order.
He moseyed up the trail to his usual spot, took a pee in one of his pasture bathrooms (alpacas are very clean – they choose one or two places to do all their business), wandered over to the fence to see if the llamas next door were out yet (they weren’t), and then settled down in one of his favourites spots – smack in the middle of the pasture trail, where he can keep an eye on both the back door of the house and on his llama friends’ shelter.
Keeping watch on a frosty morningAn hour later, when his friends came out and moved to their back pasture, he also moved himself back to our adjacent field, where he lay down to sun himself on the hillside, no doubt wondering why his rear is so sore.
Soaking up the healing rays of the sun
Hanging with friendsThroughout the day, I strolled back to the pasture to check on him. His llama friends were literally hanging over the fence, and at one point did the strangest thing – they both turned their backs on him, lifted their tails, and….MOONED him! Or maybe it was me they were mooning. Who knows. I was so astonished it took me a few moments to focus the camera, so I only caught the tail end of it (pun intended!).
Mooning MartinAt dusk, I tried enticing him back down to the shelter for his evening grains, but he was having none of it. His llama friends were still keeping him company, and he was moving around grazing on the tender spring grass. He often likes to “camp out” in good weather, so I respected his wishes and let him be. I hoped he would return to the pen for the morning feed as my dogs were a little miffed at missing their romp in the pasture tonight. Sorry guys – on the days you were fixed, I spoiled you a little too.
At dawn, I see Martin still at the back of the pasture but standing keeping watch on the house. By the time I have fed the dogs and the pigs, he has made his way down to his pen, where he is impatiently awaiting the morning feed. He trots over to the shelter right behind me, and immediately starts munching the soft green hay. Surprisingly, he leaves the grains and fresh apple slices untouched, but he does have a big drink of water. He shows no concern when I close the gate to the pen in order to give the dogs free run of the fields. The dogs and I spend some time exploring the fields, noting the emergence of skunk cabbage along the creek, and the pointy shoots of new bamboo just beginning to poke up through the ground on the hillside.
When we return, Martin is still in his shelter, contentedly munching hay from his manger. He shows no sign of pain or tenderness or any problematic discharge (the incisions are left partially open so they can drain naturally should any infection occur – one just has to watch for copious amounts of blood or pus that might indicate a problem). He now walks and stands without the cowboy (cowpaca?) bow legs that were evident yesterday morning. For all intents and purposes, he appears back to normal.
Once the dogs are safely back in the yard, I open the gate to his pen to allow him back into the pasture. He spends much of the morning just outside his pen, and occasionally wanders back in for a mouthful of grain or a slurp of water. Eventually he goes back to the far end of the pasture and once again hangs across the fence from his llama pals. I check on him several times, and he is moving about and once again master of all he surveys:
G'night, Mom!It was a beautiful sunny day again, and I fully enjoyed the sense of relief that both this task and the winter are behind me. Life is good.