Yesterday morning at approximately 8:45 EST, the eagerly anticipated Graty-Lacey pairing indeed occurred. (In the interest of protecting their privacy, this post is not accompanied by photos. I was going to take some...but...I just couldn't.)
Sometimes I feel like I'm living on the Discovery Channel.
We closed the girls in their stall (because we couldn't risk the prepubescent Pepper or the aging Switzer mistakenly encountering the enthusiastic Graty) and proceeded to halter Lacey. Then we followed my mother's instructions; she had read in one of her llama books that the female's tail--a rather long and bushy thing, not quite unlike dread-locks--should be wrapped up with vet-wrap, which is a sort of ace-bandage that conveniently sticks to itself. Lacey found this procedure most distasteful, but, as my mother had read that "the female's hair might wrap itself around the male appendage and cut off circulation," we wanted to take the precaution.
That done, we let Lacey out into the empty pasture. Then Graty was haltered, his lead attached and, excited by the prospect of an early-morning walk, he happily followed us out of the barn. But as soon as he realized that his constant companion Llannie was not with us, he grew puzzled, then recalcitrant. It took a bit of coaxing to edge his 400-pounds of reluctance to the corner of the barn, despite my constant reassurance that he would be very glad to take this walk. (Really, he would.)
As soon as we reached the end of the barn, he suddenly seemed convinced, and began to hurry along. By the time we got to the gate, it was all we could do to get his lead off in time to release him into the pasture with Lacey...who took off at full tilt and crashed through the fence into the boy's pasture.
Graty ran crazily back and forth along the fence line, tail up over his back, head down, showing off his chest and whatever else he thought might most impress his lost prize, while Lacey pretended to ignore him and daintily nibbled at the grass. Llannie, whose pasture had suddenly been invaded by this horrible female, proceeded to click and cluck in utter disdain.
Lacey had to be rounded up and led back through the broken bit of fence; this was done easily enough, but she took off running again. This time Graty was in hot pursuit. After a few laps up and down the pasture (and just as she headed toward the weak spot in the fence again) he managed to corner her. My dad and I stood rather helplessly behind the broken fence, fully aware that we wouldn't be able to hold it against the weight of two llamas flinging themselves at it at full-speed. But Graty tackled Lacey about four feet in front of us and that was that.
Now, I expected things to go rather quickly from that point on. But...no. What ensued was about twenty minutes of noisy exertion, with both parties panting, heaving, and making the oddest noises--which Mr. O'Kitten described later as sounding like dinosaurs. It was very unsettling, but, as Pepper and Switzer watched patiently from the barn, and Llannie observed across the fence, and the sheep grazed peacefully nearby, I can only assume that everything was going just as it was supposed to--because if anything is the least bit out of the ordinary, the llamas pick up on it right away. So the dinosaurs went at it.
Another surprise to me was that the pairing took place in a prone position, with Lacey kushed down like a camel and Graty over her on his knees. (Those nature programs had led me to expect them to be standing up--but no, apparently not llamas.) Periodically Graty would heave himself up, nose around Lacey's tail to check his progress, and then resettle to resume his work.
After the first twenty minutes, they took a break, but Graty wouldn't leave Lacey alone. He kept trying to clamber back on top of her, to her clear annoyance, and finally, she sank back onto her knees again and another twenty minutes of exertions ensued.
Now, in my defense, I really didn't want to watch this entire performance. But with the broken fence flapping about in the wind...well, awkwardly standing there was pretty much the only option. The sheep and Llannie needed to stay on their side, and Graty and Lacey needed to remain on the other. (Now officially on my list of life's most uncomfortable moments: watching copulating llamas with my father.)
At long last, the pairing was complete. Graty checked his work one last time, and we were able to lead him away from his life's love and take him back to his own side of the barn. He was very hungry and had a big snack of hay. We fixed the fence, and soon Graty was out in the pasture, bumbling about with the glazed look of someone who's had far too many endorphins released in his system.
Switzer and Pepper sniffled and snuffled Lacey from head to tail, and also performed a thorough inspection of the areas of the pasture that had recently served as the love nests. Llamas are indeed very curious creatures, and they don't miss much.
So now we wait, to see what might transpire.