It was about 1:00 AM two nights ago when Rick was awakened by a loud noise outside our house. This particular haunting screech is not one we hear often. An intruder will often send our llamas into alarm mode, sounding out a “Whoop, whoop, whoop!” that very much gets across the idea of an alarm – but this was worse! It very much sounded like an animal in trouble, so Rick went out to investigate.
He quickly slipped into his jacket and boots and headed out the door to see if the sheep were OK, and if the llamas needed help. Out in the dark, it was hard to see anything, much less some sneaky animal trying to make its way into our pasture. He walked the driveway down to the road where both Martin and Howie (the llamas currently with the ewes and lambs) stood at alert to chase, fight, or kill, depending on the necessity. The focus of their attention was at that point still hidden.
As Rick got to the roadside, he could hear rustling in the brush. As the sound slinked slowly away from him, so did the llamas, staying right at its side on their side of the fence, stomping and posturing to make sure the animal knew it was not wanted. This time of year, our llamas know their flock is vulnerable with so many young and trusting lambs, and they are careful as to what they let in.
As Rick and the llamas followed the sound, the intruder moved southward in the ditch of the road, finally coming to the stop sign at the corner of our acreage. The roadside brush there is trimmed low to the ground for visibility, and as Rick approached the area, he was finally able to see what all the fuss was about: our resident fox, having spent the winter in its burrow in the Timber Pasture, must have decided to visit its neighbors in the vacant lot across the street. Since we had just moved the sheep into the Pond Pasture, I suspect that when he or she had gone visiting, there had been no sheep around the pond, allowing for a direct route from our Timber to the lot. Now, however, our ewes and their lambs, plus our two llamas were inhabiting that pasture – and that meant that the fox had to find another route home!
It didn’t take long before the fox realized that the only easy way home was via the road that runs along our southern border. As Rick approached the corner, he could see the fox dart into the roadway and head west towards home, the llamas providing an escort to make sure there were no detours into the pasture on the way there. Within minutes, the llamas were back to their sentry duty and the sheep began to meander back out into the cool air of the night. All returned to normal as Rick made his way back to bed. Oh, and as for me – well, I slept through the entire thing! I have great faith that the llamas can handle whatever might come up – and well they did!