“Whoa!” I duck under a clothes line running flat out. Left or right, I think with a dog kennel right in front of me. The llama goes right, I flank left. With top speeds of 45 miles per hour, I cannot keep up with this beast. But, now, I’ve got it cornered in a backyard fence. It knows it trapped. The beast turns toward me and lunges, sprinting just to my right, around the fence and between a house and garage. People on the street are watching this spectacle. The police are now patrolling the neighborhood to look for the beast too. I watch the llama cross into a nearby field. Within seconds, its halfway across the field. I’m exhausted.
How did I end up in a high speed llama chase through a residential neighborhood? Good question. Let me back up.
Llamas plotting their escape.
In yesterday’s post, I told you about how Lisa’s parents spontaneously bought a llama herd with our earnest encouragement. These lovable, docile animals seemed to take nicely to their new home and pasture. That is, until these escape artists uncover a weakness in security.
The day after the llamas arrived, Lisa received a call from her mom in the evening: Two llamas had escaped! The dog had chased them into the pasture fence and the impact knocked open a back gate. It was after dark, so the llamas could not be spotted. The llama farmer was called, who assured Barb that the llamas would not go far from the herd. In all likelihood, they would return soon.
The next morning we returned to Worthington. Lisa went out with her mom to round up the llamas. Around 10:30 a.m., I decided to head out after some work at the office. I figured they would be done with the roundup and the llamas would be back in the pens–or at least close to that.
As I drive out of town and turn onto the highway about a mile from Lisa’s, I see the most bizarre thing: A giant llama is running full-speed up the ditch on the other side of the road. Uh… That’s not good, I think to myself. I turn the car around to watch the llama cross a busy highway and back. Lisa’s cousin is chasing it in another truck. I follow the llama and help corner it into a residential neighborhood and away from the highway. I jump out of my car and the foot chase begins.
Over, the next 30 minutes, the run through the neighborhood ensues with the llama running off into a field. Everyone has now lost sight of it. On my long walk back to the car, Lisa pulls up then joins me in the truck. We start driving the direction the llama was last spotted.
“It was headed east,” I explained. “Yes, but they turn and go the other way quite often,” Lisa tells me from her morning chasing llamas.
We take a gravel road in the general direction it was heading. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. They can travel miles in any direction in a matter of minutes. We drive a mile south and a mile or so east. No sign of the llama.
“Well, we might as well turn around,” Lisa said. “Yeah… Let’s just get to the top of this hill and look.” We drove to a rise in the road. And, what do you know, there’s the llama running down the gravel. We laughed at our luck.
For the next hour, we drive behind or alongside the llama, trying to corner it into a fence or find a way to make it stop. The llama won’t give up. It just keeps running. When we stop, it stops, but too far out of our reach.
We took to foot, driving close and trying to chase it down–no luck.
Next, Lisa got in the back of the truck with a rope to try to lasso the llama. I pulled up alongside the llama. Every time we made an attempt at throwing the rope, the llama would turn into the ditch.
My favorite photo from the chase: Lisa attempting to lasso a sprinting llama from a moving truck.
About seven miles from the farm, we could tell the llama was starting to tire. It was stopping frequently and slowing down. It stayed on the roads and avoided the soft fields where it was difficult to run.
Lisa and I switched duties and I took to running after it with the lasso. The llama was slowing. Our rope was short and every throw would get obliterated by the strong wind. I hit the neck several times.
Finally, a mile later, the llama stopped. It knew it no longer had the will or stamina to out run us. But it was angry. Really angry. It wouldn’t go down without a fight. So there, in the middle of nowhere between empty fields in Minnesota, the llama and I had it out.
“we don’t have to do this any longer!!” I screamed. “Brahhhhhh!!!!” the llama roared. “Ahhh!!!” I screamed back. The llama looked out into the field and gave a distress call–as if looking for its herd. I threw the rope. It hit the llama, but didn’t lasso the next. The llama screamed again and took a fighting stance. Throw two: another miss. The llama spit at me several time–it was a very very mad llama. Throw three: Around the neck! The llama fought and screamed, and I pulled. I spit and got me square in the forehead. I yanked the leash. Reluctantly, it gave in.
I tried to pull it to walk–the llama resisted, continuing to spit. Lisa came with the llama halter. “Grab it around its neck and put the halter on it,” Lisa tells me. Umm… okay, so I just simply grab this furious llamas around the next? We wrestle for awhile–the llama hates that I’ve got an arm around. Then I have to force this halter over its angry, spitting mouth. The llama does everything it can to resist–this is now a duel to the death.
After five minutes, I finally succeed. The llama has been wrangled. And, its suddenly quite docile again. It follows me rather easily.
Lisa heads to a nearby farm to see if we can wait there with our llama until the trailer can arrive.
So here I am, walking down a long dirt road, pulling a llama that we tried to lasso from a truck, then had a fight to the death, then wrangled into submission. I never would have ever expected a day like this or a situation quite so bizzare–no doubt I’ll remember it forever. And, all I can think is: That. Was. AWESOME!
And the second llama? Word came in that it was 1/2 a mile away in a swampy marsh at the end of a tractor salvage yard (a place where tractors go to die and be parted out). We searched the yard and these old tractor salvage guys pointed the llama out.
Can you spot the llama?? Hint: Its dark-brown head is under the two tallest trees on this side of the pond.
We walked through the muddy swamp and reeds until the llama spotted us. Another chase ensued as the llama took off and into another field. And, with that, we all gave up. The vet was called and a tranquilizer gun was brought in front a nearby town. As of 30 minutes ago today, it took 4 tranquilizer darts to subdue the beast. The llama is now in captivity.