The snow is gone and our driveway is dry and clear! The temps here in NE keep going from 30-65 degrees. I never know how to dress my kids to leave the house!
In my last post I described our current struggle with our alpaca, Truman and how he uses his whole stall (which doesn’t drain properly anyway) as a bathroom. (You can catch up here if you would like) I called my Aunt who has alpacas and dogs of her own (who lovingly gifted me mine) and she suggested giving him less space. Mike built a gate and installed it to cut Truman’s stall in half. So far so good. Now he is using half of his new area and cleaning it takes 15 minutes instead of 2 hours. This is a lot more manageable. We have been feeling really relieved and excited about our setup. We leave the barn door open at night now that Hadwin (our 7 mo. old livestock guardian dog or “LGD”) is a little bigger. We no longer need to rush out as soon as the sun comes up to let him out as he can come and go freely from the barn to the pasture. On Friday we will be getting our 2nd alpaca and I’m SO EXCITED for Truman to have a buddy and outnumber our occasionally rambunctious puppy. So far Hadwin and Truman have provided companionship for each other, but I didn’t want this as a long term solution as Alpacas need to be with a herd.
For awhile now our puppy has been getting quite large. Hadwin is a good dog. He wants to please us and is a quick learner. He gets very hiper when we first approach him and wants to jump and push us over but after a few minutes and a few reminders he calms right down. He knows how to use his manners but the puppy in him gets the best of him sometimes. He is a livestock guardian dog who has barely shown any signs of actually guarding. He started barking occasionally about a month ago and we were as excited about this as we were the times our kiddos took their first steps. He doesn’t know his role yet, and without an older dog to mentor him it could take a little while for him to figure it out.
Hadwin has been bunking with the alpaca since he was only 6 weeks old. We knew that not only was it important for him to bond with Truman so that he would want to protect him as he got older, but that it was important for Truman since for the time being we don’t have any other alpacas to keep him company. Alpacas can for the most part take care of themselves. I’ve seen him teach Hadwin a lesson or two by kicking him. Alpacas also spit. They will use a warning spit sound first that lets the offender know it’s coming. Then they will use a mild spit which is comprised mostly of fresh grass they just consumed. If this doesn’t communicated the message they then resort to a spit from deep down in their stomach. It is fowl smelling and sticky. (gross eh?) Well here’s the deal, non of these things seem to really bother Hadwin or encourage him to change his ways. I honestly think that he believes Truman to be another dog just like him. Now that he has gotten so big and he is hitting his adolescent stage his “playing” is getting more inappropriate. As much as I’m around and able to, I intervene/correct but since thier new digs aren’t right behind the house anymore I can’t always see what’s going on with them. (also I have 4 children) Truman has not seemed stressed about any of this at all. I haven’t been worried about it until a few days ago. . .
I went out to the pasture to feed the boys and noticed that Truman was missing most of the fiber off his tail. I immediately separated them so I could decide what to do next. Unfortunately I do not have a way for them both to have shelter and adequate pasture without putting them quite a ways apart. In checking the weather forecast it was going to be below freezing so they would both require their heated water bowls. I put them back together at night and kept a close eye on things during the daytime. All seemed to be well. I was hoping that we could hold out until Friday and that the addition of another alpaca would even the scores. I went outside to check them yesterday and found that Truman was now missing some of the fiber on his side and had some small surface wounds. I was absolutely sick to my stomach. I took Hadwin to a separate pasture again. Mike and I then figured out a way to block off Truman’s stall so to keep them separate in the barn at night but still “together”. This solution means we have to keep the barn door closed at night again so we have to rush out as early as we can in the morning to let Hadwin out. Now we need to really focus on training that will involve a rope or a chain and constant monitoring while around the alpaca.
Every time I look out the windows of my kitchen I see a very sad puppy. He’s like “What? What did I do?” So it goes with an immature LGD. I suppose this is part of the process, HIS process of growing into his identity; what he was made for. As his “mentor” I want him to know who he really is! Because I know how happy he will be in this role. He was made to keep Truman safe. He was made to stand guard and police the grounds of our little homestead. He is a gentle giant with a sweet heart. I have total faith in the guardian he will grow up to be. I will continue to encourage him and correct him and discipline him and love him unconditionally because this is what he needs and this is how he will learn. My heart is saddened by the mistakes he has made and that I’ve allowed him to make because they have hurt someone else. But his mistakes don’t make him not an LGD, they make him a puppy who hasn’t quite grown into his calling yet.
I know all this because I’ve been through this process. I’ve walked through the pain of not knowing who I was, have acted in inappropriate ways, and have pushed away people that I loved. And along the way I’ve had a personal Jesus who has loved me unconditionally, whose heart has hurt when I hurt and when I have wounded other people in my unknowing. He has corrected me, coached me, encouraged me, and shown me who I am designed to be. He has given me more “chances” then I could ever count. He’s put me in a “separate pasture” for a time to give me new perspective before trusting me with others again. He gifted me mentors who have been able to see through my “behavior” who I really am. Who have taken time for me, believed in me, and who have taught me. To think I could have stayed stuck in my old adolescent identity is a painful thought. I am so thankful that I was able to shed off the old me- that He undid my chains- and that I can be trusted so i can run in complete freedom in greener, bigger pastures. I’m so thankful for the process of growth, and for 2nd chances, and 3rd, and 4th and. . .
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ” Ephesians 2:10
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8
“. . . Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1