Originally Published on December 21st, 2016.
The year 2016 was not one of our more exciting travel years because of "Coco". So who is "Coco"? Our newest addition to Texotic Farms - a baby llama. Aspen, the mother, gave birth to him in January, right smack in the corral's mud puddle inside the pen. It was the coldest and rainiest day of the year here in Houston.
Aspen took one look at her mud-smeared cria (baby llama) and decided she wasn't going to mess around with this guy. Rudy, on the other hand, retrieved the little bundle, still in his birth sack, and came in to the house and announced, "We have a problem!"
I took one look at it and replied, "No problem, this cria is dead." Wrong answer.
Rudy washed the mud off the llama's limp little body, dried him off, wrapped him in towels and placed him on a heating pad in the middle of my kitchen counter. "Go find me a bottle and the multi-species powder milk replacer." Doesn't everyone have a container of that hanging around in their kitchen? Well, we do.
By evening, there was no movement but there was a heartbeat. I, once again, announced, "This guy is not going to make it through the night so let's go to bed."
Morning came, and like a Santa's reindeer Rudy flew down the stairs (not the chimney) to check on his new project. I moseyed down and to my surprise the cria had his eyes open. "Now we've really got a problem," I explained. That was an understatement.
It took 10 days to get this 20 pounds of llama on his feet, and endless persuading to get him to take two ounces of a special formula. The entire time he was becoming a house llama. (Don't even ask how we handled that.)
Rudy, now Mr. Mom, fed Coco four times a day. Three months pass and still he was in the house, watching TV with Babe (the Rottweiler), Gypsy Rose (the Yorky) and Shaka (the parrot). Something about TV fascinates llamas. Coco was 50 pounds and slowly pushing towards his maximum weight of 400 pounds.
Clearly we could not venture out to some wild and crazy third world country for a holiday. I wanted to go to Papua New Guinea, but that was not to be. After all, Rudy was committed to this darn llama.
At five months, enough was enough. Out into the pen Coco went with the rest of the herd. Aspen took one sniff and was not impressed with her child's new household odor. Living outdoors did not stop the bottle feedings, though. Coco is now nearly a year old, and while he is theatrically weaned, we have not gotten Rudy weaned. He still goes out every morning, bottle in hand, and feeds the now 150 pound llama.
Coco is the most lovable guy in the herd, giving all visitors a big fat kiss if you stop to say hello. He is totally a humanized llama. Aspen is about to pop out another cria. Let us hope she wants to be a mother this time. If not, Rudy will be relocated to the barn.
Around August we went off to Norway. We landed in Bergen and then traveled up the coast, crossing the Arctic Circle and skirting the Russian border (2,630 NM). While the landscape and fjords were fantastic, it was the Sami Indians with their bright red decorative hats and their herds of reindeer (1,000/family) that were captivating. Everything would have been more stunning if it hadn't rained nearly non-stop.
Vesta Rea & Associates is now in its 26th year. (No, I'm not planning to retire.) Our beautiful boat, the Sapa Inca, sprung a major fuel leak (700 gallons worth) and replacing the four fuel tanks was over the top so we sold her. I cried for a month. Our favorite Rottweiler, Babe, died at 8 years old. The llamas, parrots and miniature horses are multiplying, so Texotic Farms is alive and well.