Just as I thought it was drying out nicely it rained solidly for 7 hours and now, once again, I am mud bound. This causes me many problems, least of all falling over. It is somewhat embarrassing, legs up in the air, slapping loudly into the mud before thrashing around trying to find some sort of purchase in order to scrabble upright again, at the same time looking around to see if I have been caught in the act of going arse over apex. All very amusing to bystanders, thankfully there are not many during the week.
So if upending myself is the least of my problems whilst mud bound, moving animals about is the biggest of my problems. Because of the configuration of the grazing here and the limited access points to the fields and the slippery slopes covered in mud and other slippery things I cannot get a trailer into a field in order to load up any animals that may need moving.
Looking into the field from the gate.
Slippery mud covered with leaves, treacherous.
The slippery slope up to the gate.
I am ready to wean most of this years cria but I cannot get them out of their field and away from their mothers. I want to move the 10 male cria ready for weaning to the next village where the rest of the Patou boys are. The land where Qjori rules the roost is flat, dry and well draining, perfect for halter training.
Qjori’s place, the dry, flat, halter training fields in the next village.
There are several options, firstly ‘The group charge and catch’ method. This involves running the whole mother and baby group out of their field, down the road and into a pen constructed of hurdles somewhere flat and dry and then separate the weaners off and pop them into the trailer. But, and it is a big but, I am essentially on my own during daylight hours. The last time I tried something similar I ended up watching excited alpacas disappearing in at least two different directions whilst I ran around in circles in the road shouting the most vile obscenities at the 20 or so fluffy bottoms that were vanishing into the distance. As you can imagine I am reluctant to try that again.
The second option is the hardest and most gruelling physically. I call it ‘The mud wrestle to glory’. It involves parking the trailer as near as possible to the gateway, penning the alpacas as near as possible to the gate, (which incidentally opens the wrong way and is set on such a greasy slope that it is a real feat getting through it empty handed without tipping over) and then manhandle each weaner one by one through the mud slide to the gate, open and then close the gate having taken said weaner through the gateway and down the other side to the trailer. I feel it should be attempted as part of an elite special forces selection task by super-fit highly motivated young people not a fat, bald (actually being bald has nothing to do with it) middle aged man with one leg shorter than the other (and that doesn’t always cause problems but in this scenario my short leg would be on the downhill side causing all sorts of mobility and co-ordination problems).
So in short I have discounted this method.
The last method is one that I have already unsuccessfully attempted and I call it ‘The heavy frost dash and grab’. This involves getting up early on a frosty morning and rounding up the group in the feeding pen which is on a flat piece of ground some 50 yards from the gate. The next step is to drive in with the trailer on the hard icy surface as quickly as possible turn round and on the way back towards the gate, stop next to the pen and throw the little fluffers in through the side door before making a hasty and rapid exit through the still open gateway. It is necessary to take the gate at speed going in both directions so that the trailer doesn’t slide into the fence (been there done that……..twice). You can tell by looking at the top picture.
I tried this method a couple of weeks ago when we last had a hard frost. Sadly, once in the field I completely lost my bottle and fearing that I wouldn’t be able to get going again if I stopped I just drove in at great speed careered around in a circle and then exited the field without stopping, failing miserably to achieve anything whatsoever other than to churn up more mud and make the situation even worse.
I will find a solution. Suggestions on a postcard please.