Saturday, February 28, 2009
Chris (Christmas Surprise) is my big red/brown llama. Tonight we noticed he is a little unsteady on his back legs. One leg looks weak. This is exactly how Breeze started his decline into paralysis due to meningeal worm. The parasite, carried by snails, is then eaten by deer and spread everywhere in their droppings. With the marshy areas of my land, and all the deer passing through, we are always at risk. Dr. Rachel was not on call this weekend, but her partner, Dr. Johnson, called right back. He told us what to give him and I have the meds - Dexamethasone, a steroid, and ivermectin, a wormer. This will not be easy. Chris is semi-wild, perfect for a guard llama who roams the land with the flock, but not easy for giving shots. I had a catch pen for Chris and Breeze at the last place we lived, but the catch pens never got built here. We'll make one in the barn tomorrow and lure him in with corn. He needs shots every day for the next four days. My experience has been that when an animal is symptomatic it's too late. The worm crawls up the spinal cord and cripples the animal. It still hasn't hit me yet. We've been blissfully free of vet calls this winter, with minimal lambing and nobody real sick. Dr. Johnson said llama people worm every month, but everything I've been told says that builds a resistance to the wormer. Chris is the King of the Farm. I don't want to think of losing him - I'm still missing Breeze, his little white brother, the one the lambs and kids climbed on all the time. I bought them when they were living in the front yard of a llama breeder in NJ. She had 29 llamas in her yard around the house. Chris and Breeze had a tiny spot with hard, bare earth by the road with no shade. It took me two years to get them out of hock. When I finally brought them home to the field I rented, they were afraid to come out of the small training paddock I kept them in. The wide open spaces terrified them. Here, and at the last farm, they had fields, streams, ponds and apple orchards...llama heaven.