There Is Always An ‘And…’

Bilberry a recent addition to the alpaca family.

A few years ago I wrote a piece for the local BBC Radio Cornwall which was about how sometimes when we want to help it is best to just do nothing – be there, but don’t rush in and try to make things, as we would see them, better. I illustrated this with the example of the best prescription for helping an alpaca to give birth. An authority on alpacas suggests we need two crucial items of equipment for helping at an alpaca birth – binoculars and a length of rope. The rope is to tie yourself to a fence a suitable distance away from the alpaca, the binoculars are so you can watch what is happening from a safe distance.

Well, this seemed to be a good point to make back then, and it does seem to be the case that with our expectations of how things should be we can often cause problems by jumping in and ‘helping’ when supportive and attentive inaction could be a wiser course.

Anyway, it is alpaca birthing season again here on the farm, and this year has been a fine teaching in how sometimes it is good to help.

We had four alpaca babies (technically known as cria) in four days – one a day in the short sunny spells between downpours. Unfortunately Julie (the real expert on our alpacas – I am not an animal person) was bedridden at this time having been thrown by a horse. So it was up to me to oversee birthing. The first cria made it out before I even knew anything was happening. The second needed membrane and fluid removing from over its mouth before it suffocated, the third presented with head and only one leg so needed a quick intervention to flip the other foot out in the right direction so the cria could make it out. All needed drying out and coats to cope with the challenging weather.

Which doesn’t mean the original advice about doing nothing was wrong – its just there is always an ‘and…’ Fortunately, in these alpaca births it seemed that if I was just calm and quiet, then when something needed doing it was pretty clear what it was that was needed. I’m not an animal person, so I’m not going to say the alpacas told me what needed doing, and yet…

Two week old Bilberry.

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3 thoughts on “There Is Always An ‘And…’”

  1. I like you article Andrew I work on a farm which is a day centre for people with learning disabilities and we have two alpacas, they are very friendly but on their own terms you have to let them come to you. Perhaps we should do this more often in our lives with other people if they need help they will come to you. I feel there are two types of business Your Own and someone elses. It may be good to sometimes in the moment stop and realise which one we are in.

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