School has finished for Rors at last so all three kids are on holiday now. And les grandes vacances got off to an exciting start with the arrival last night of huarizo (llama/alpaca cross) number three. Lulin gave birth to Setanta at about 9.30pm, which is uncharacteristically late for a llama. The vast majority of camelid births take place between about 11 and 2 since llamas and co are unable to lick their babies clean and dry since their tongues are too short. They rely on the sun to do it for them. Fortunately it was a warm, dry evening.

Setanta and Lulin

Caiti and I witnessed Setanta’s arrival. I was a little concerned to start with as there was only one front leg sticking out with the nose. I smeared plenty of lubricating jelly around the relevant areas but, to my relief, before I had to start delving around the second leg popped out. Phew. We gave Lulin a little help at the last stages as things had slowed down. She’d laid down which actually makes things harder. Baby llamas are so long and gangly they really need mum standing up for some gravity assist. Caiti supported Setanta’s head while I helped ease the rest of him out. Within seconds of being laid on the grass he was rolling around and had got to a kushing postion within a minute or so. He was on his feet after about ten minutes, all very good signs. He seems to be a fine, strong little guy, a nice addition to our little huarizo hooligan gang where he joins Fionn and Diarmuid. Caiti has chosen the names from Irish mythology.

A very alert, five-minute-old huarizo

Camelid births are highly interactive. As soon as the nose it out, the baby is humming and grumbling away and once the head has emerged, baby is shaking and sneezing and telling mum to get a move on. Mum keeps checking up on baby’s progress with her long, agile neck and humming back. It’s fascinating to watch but has put Caiti right off childbirth!

Luckily that storm held off

A good morning this morning too as Caiti got her Bac results. She’s passed with flying colours, getting a mention bien, and she’s very pleased but a little frustrated at being just 10 marks short of a mention très bien. We’re unutterably proud of her, of course. So, it’s all systems go for University at Bordeaux for her. We head down there to sign up on Wednesday. Given the disastrous nature of our last road trip when the power steering control unit gave up the ghost and left us stranded, we’re getting the Renault serviced on Tuesday as a sensible precaution!

So, a nice start to the holidays. All we need now is some sunshine …