The following is a strange true story about life with my mother.
Seven or eight years ago, Mom lost one of the two horses on her property to old age. The remaining horse, Snuffy, had a long life ahead of him and was used to being a pack animal. Mom was worried about him being lonely, so she started hunting for animals to keep Snuffy company. Instead of looking for another horse like one would expect in such a situation, she looked at cows, miniature donkeys, miniature horses, alpacas and llamas.
“Another horse is just too expensive,” she said.
I was holding out hope for a cow. Ever since I read “Little House on the Prairie” and Laura got that cow with roses on its back, I’ve hoped that we would get a cow. For some reason, milking a cow sounds fun to me. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me either. In any event, a cow seems like a pretty normal thing to put in a barn next to a horse. Whenever you get a farm playset, there is a horse, a cow, a chicken and a goat. We’ve had horses and goats, but we’ve never had a cow. Or a chicken.
But they didn’t get a cow. They got the next most natural animal for a farm. They got a llama.
I don’t get it either. Have you ever seen a farm playset with a llama in it? No. We actually have a PETTING ZOO playset with a llama in it, but not a farm one.
Now, you may be wondering how on earth a llama would keep a horse company. I wondered the exact same thing. They are different species and, let’s face it, llamas are just plain weird. I thought my mom was insane. She probably is. It turns out she was right though. Snuffy and Buttercup the llama became best friends. Everywhere Snuffy went, Buttercup went. Snuffy was very protective of Buttercup and when my mom’s dressage horse came home over the summer, Snuffy would protect Buttercup from the other horse so the other horse wouldn’t “take” her.
Unfortunately a couple years after my parents got her, Buttercup the llama died of a congenital problem with either her kidney or her liver. It’s been so long and she wasn’t my pet, so I can’t quite remember which, but Buttercup died ridiculously young despite the best efforts of the vets at Purdue University. By the time that happened, my parents had bought the property next door to them and had other horses boarding with them in their new, larger stable, and perhaps even another horse. The progression of animal acquisition gets a little fuzzy to me.
The horse still missed the llama. Or my parents missed the llama. Whatever the case, they got a new one named Chewy a year or two later. Chewy is Snuffy’s best friend. In fact, Chewy is the llama you saw in all the pictures in this post thanks to him being post-digital and Buttercup being pre-digital– or at least so far back that I don’t have pictures of her readily available. The horse and the llama are inseparable. The horse doesn’t like it if other horses try to “take” his llama. The llama doesn’t really want other horses to talk to his horse. They love each other.
And so, Snuffy isn’t lonely anymore and is carrying out another love affair with the llama.
Next Thursday: What happened when the miniature horse got “lonely”.