Monday, June 15, 2015

Critter Containment

Jazzy & Mallory graze in the front pasture.
A year or so ago, I had the underground sensor to my gate opener dismantled because my critters kept tripping it. Believe me, there's no fun in answering a 6:30 a.m. phone call from your local sheriff's deputy saying, "Mrs Miller, I'm at your gate, and your horses are out."
Even with the sensor dismantled, the llamas got out last winter when a contractor came in one morning and, not seeing them, drove up my hill without pausing to let the gates close behind him. Apparently, they were lying in wait among the trees, because I got a phone call from a neighbor whose daughter spotted them at the church down the road.
So, a few weeks ago I had two signs made at a local sign shop. Each says, in red lettering the color of a geranium, "Critters Roaming: Remain at gates until they close behind you." I’ve been hanging them on the gates when the llamas were out, one sign facing inside, one outside, so folks could see them when they were entering or leaving. 
Waiting for the gates to close became burdensome last week when my daughter and her family were camping out here before closing on their new home. So my grandsons and I made a trip to the nearest Tractor Supply store and purchased two dozen plastic fence posts. I already had plenty of plastic webbing left over from the temporary fence I had put up several years ago to divide my back pasture into two sections. The posts have little "feet" near the bottom that you step on to push them into the ground, but I figured they might need a little hammer help. Friday, Gabe, Mati and I loaded the posts, webbing and a hammer into the UTV, and set out to build our enclosure. It worked like a charm.
       Saturday morning, I wanted to put the llamas in the back pasture and let the horses enjoy different scenery. After Gabe and his parents left, Mati and I drove the UTV to the barn for llama halters and feed, then headed to the front pasture. We got a halter on Beeper, the daughter llama, but Rio, the mama llama, would have no part of it. So we started leading Beeper up the hill, figuring Rio would follow. 
I had forgotten that llamas can be as recalcitrant as donkeys. What should have been a five-minute trip took half an hour, with Rio wandering off into the woods and Beeper stubbornly stopping every few feet in protest. About 20 feet from the gate through which I was trying to herd these animals, she decided she had had enough, and lay down. 
      I took off the lead rope, then concentrated on getting mama llama through the gate. Beeper got up, went on in, but her mama just didn't want to be confined. So I said, "To heck with her," and locked the gate. Meanwhile, I put halters on my horses and led them down to the front, with Mati trudging along behind as fast as his three-year-old legs would permit. Once inside the new "compound," the horses ran from one side to the other, checking out their boundaries and bucking in delight, then waded into the pond. They splashed water all over themselves, and Jazzy actually lay down and rolled in it. 
      When I returned from church Sunday I drove immediately to the barn, and almost ran over Rio because she was lying down in my drive about 100 feet from the gate. Her daughter kept calling to her in the high-pitched hum that earned her the name, "Beeper."  Finally, Rio went in, I fed both of them, and said a prayer of thanksgiving.
      Now my equine buddies won't knock over the bird feeders beside my house and come to my back porch begging for apples and carrots while roaming my property. I won't have to chase critters up and down the road again, either…maybe.


  1. Not being familiar with animals or a country girl myself I'd like to ask a question. Does the plastic fencing really keep them "in"? Do they recognize it and know not to attempt to go past it? My first thought would be they'd easily trample it and go off on their merry way!

  2. Yes, it really does keep them contained. And yes, they do recognized it and so far have not attempted to go beyond it. They could easily push through it if they so desired, but fortunately, they don't know that!