Well, Elif certainly chose a good day for the birth. It was very possibly the last warm day of the year!
Towards the end of the lovely sunny Monday that was baby’s birthday, the clouds began to gather, and Simon broke the news that the forecast was for lots of rain, followed by cold weather. Great.
Sure enough, about four in the morning on Tuesday the heavens opened. I lay in bed listening to the rain gurgling into the gutters, and whilst this rare sound would recently have filled me with nothing but glee at the prospect of a well-watered garden, on this occasion it filled me with a heart-sinking anxiety. I debated getting out of bed and driving up to he field to check that the newest addition to the herd wasn’t lying sodden and drowned in a muddy puddle, or shaking uncontrollably with hypothermia. But rationally I knew that, without an easily accessible closed barn into which mother and baby could be safely cajoled, there was nothing much we could do. We certainly couldn’t take the baby away from Elif as she needed to suckle, and in any case, there was nowhere to take her to. So I lay there worrying pointlessly, waiting for the dawn, and hoping that Elif was a sensible-enough llama to keep her young one at her side in the shelter out of the rain.
At first light it was reassuring to see that the baby was clearly still alive and bouncing. It was also immensely frustrating to see that she and Elif were the only llamas not huddled in the shelter to keep out of the driving rain. For some reason Elif seemed to prefer the rain to the close sociability of the shelter, and she and the baby were kushed at the top of the field well away from the road and the rest of the group.
The rain continued relentlessly throughout the day, and the baby continued relentlessly to get wet. When I went up to put fresh hay in the shelter, Elif came down to eat some, but the baby insisted on slip-sliding about on the slippery slopes, and kushing in muddy puddles. I couldn’t believe that this skinny little bundle of soggy wool and bones would survive in the ever-cooling wind-chill of the first wintery day of the year.
But she has. And even though the temperature has continued to drop (with a forecast of zero degrees for tonight), she seems to be doing fine. Still, I guess the mountains in Chile must get pretty chilly sometimes…..