All is calm and tranquil in the field at Pistyll Gwyn, but that’s not how it has been ….
Last week Hurricane, Jet, and Dora arrived from a nearby farm. They’ll be staying here until the spring while their owner moves home and gets settled. We were keen to help out and absolutely delighted to have them – for one thing it has brought a refreshing bit of colour into our herd!
For the most part, our lot were welcoming. Walter especially seemed to recognise Jet and be very pleased to see him. (They last saw each other about 18 months ago when they were both at Susan’s.) But then …. Our Silky got territorial, eiter about the land or the girls, or something else alpaca that we don’t know about and set about poor Hurricane and Jet. Dora got off lightly – being an ‘open’ female Silky had other designs on her!
Thus started two days of Silky muttering under his breath, like Steptoe, and chasing Hurricane round the field, spitting at every opportunity. We were very glad at this point that we had Silky’s fighting teeth removed a few weeks previously, although to be honest there wasn’t much fighting going on – Hurricane just wanted to get out of the way. Hurricane bore the brunt of it. Jet would get little blasts of disgruntlement coming his way, but by and large it was Hurricane, for some reason, who was really not welcome.
On the other hand, there were some other voices to be heard … On that first day, the three newcomers had sought a bit of peace and quiet, away from Silky and the herd, down in the corner at Wolf’s Gate. I was watching and feeling slightly relieved that for the moment at least Silky had backed down. From across the field, all by herself, came Olive. She just went and joined the three, sniffed them, and started eating. This seemed to relax Jet and Dora, and they started eating too, and I just stood there feeling dead proud of Olive. Meanwhile, Silky, back at the field shelter was glowering and muttering ….
There was no long-lasting peace though, and soon enough Silky got one on him and came charging down the field to chase Hurricane off. Dora and Jet would stand and watch and once Silky had had emough they would go and give Hurricane a bit of moral support.
The other very obvious peacekeeper that day was Tyler. In the evening he pointedly went over and sat with the new alpacas who based themselves under the Beech Tree at the top of the field. This was the start of the herd fragmenting and re-integrating itself, although we were unsure at that stage what would happen.
The next morning I was just happy that all 12 alpacas were still there and still alive. It was still obvious that no-one was particularly happy, although they were all roughly in the same part of the field together. Hurricane had got himself in a little nook at the very top, (which I now call Hurricane’s Corner), and seemed quite miserable, prefering to lie there and keep an eye out for the dreaded Silky.
Caerthan fed them, and we were heartened that even Hurricane came down, although he kept his distance.
At this stage we noticed that although Dora would keep going back to be with Hurricane and Jet, she was clearly happy hanging around with the girls and Blanco, who was keeping a very low profile in all of this.
Walter, on the other hand … it was like he had just had enough of it all, and he decided that he would much rather be with slightly exotic and mysterious newcomers than pussy-footing (if an alpaca can do such a thing) around the petulant Silky. He switched camps.
On that second day, petulant was probably the right word for Silky. He had the odd flare up, but mostly he just kept his distance. The rest of the herd were a bit more miserable, unsure about where they should be. Hurricane, Jet, Dora and Walter would be at the top of the field. Silky and the girls would be at the bottom. Jet seemed quite stressed – humming constantly.
Tyler and Blanco would be spaced between the two groups.
Although it was better we still went to bed with heavy hearts.
The next morning we saw an immediate improvement. Silky and Hurricane were both eating in fairly close proximity to each other. Jet and Dora seemed more integrated, and there was much less visible division into two herds.
Now it was Hurricane’s turn to sulk a bit. Understandably, I think, after his less than warm welcome, but he did start to play it – huffing and puffing, and looking remarkably like a cross between Windsor Davies and a giant sheep (Neither he nor Dora had been sheared this year).
But this was the end of it. We relaxed, as it was obvious it was all going to be okay, and that alpaca business-as-normal would soon be resumed.
Looking back, I am wondering if we shouldn’t have put the newcomers in the Naughty Paddock for a bit – so they could all see each other, and maybe get a bit of that old alpaca curiosity going, before being asked to actually integrate.
One thing that it has shown us is how much we project onto the animals and how much we don’t know about what is really going on in the world of the alpaca herd.
After all – our mild mannered Silky …. who’d have thought it?