Monday, February 28, 2011

The Sacred Halls of Wally World

8:54 PM
I'm not a huge fan of Wal-Mart, but I occasionally step into the store because occasionally there are things I can buy at Wal-Mart that I can't really purchase locally at a better price.  Even so, if I can avoid Wal-Mart, I will, not for political or other reasons, but because I just don't like the experience.

It comes down to this: lots of folks shop at Wal-Mart for the bargains, even though I've seen them price some stuff higher or equal to the local retailers.  Wal-Mart is always crowded, which means I have to deal with lots of people and lots of lines.  When I go to Good Foods, I deal with a smaller place that may or may not be crowded.  The food is organic (or marked conventional) and I know where it comes from.  They love featuring local foods and products.  They take pride in offering good produce and foods.  And yeah, they cost a bit more sometimes, but not always.

I had gone into Wal-Mart to get meds for one of my dogs.  It had been put back on the shelf so I had to wait.  So, I went looking for organic and local stuff.  Wal-mart does carry local products, but it is often hard to find them unless you know where to look.  I did score some extra Wheat Montana flour at a good price, local egg noodles, and organic cereal at a decent price.  The prices were good.  The experience, not so thrilling. I felt like I was back in Denver, and in Missoula, that's pretty hard to do. 

As usual, the whole thing took much longer than I had planned.  I realize that Wal-Mart has a place in the retail world -- and I'm more likely to buy TVs and other electronics there because of the price break.  But honestly, if I had my choice, I'd choose a smaller store over the big warehouse store. 

I like being able to pay not a lot on things, but at some point the quality factor and the community factor comes into being.  Wal-Mart fills a gap that we have out here in terms of certain types of goods.  But at the same time, I won't buy meat and vegetables there that I don't know the origin -- or don't approve of the origin.  My buffalo comes from Montana.  Same with the beef and pork, as well as my chickens and the deer I hunt.  Most of the butchering happens at places I do business with -- I've met the owners too. 

My husband -- who never liked eggs before he ate our chickens' eggs -- had eggs in a restaurant at a hotel and was stunned at how bad they were.  I think commercial eggs have no taste; even the organic eggs seem to not be as good as my own chickens' eggs.  Food I get from the farmer's market is so much better than the food you get in the store. 

I know I'm not the only one who thinks this.  And maybe that's why at least in Missoula, we still have small businesses even though we have two Wal-Marts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Llamas, Shiners and Other Idiotic Things

11:02 PM
I got back from a Science Fiction convention and was pretty excited to see all my critters, including the llamas.  I have a terrible feeling that my disappearance for a few days made the llamas antsy.  So, Sid and Nick were behaving like total buttheads.  I caught Sid and was going to pet him when he dodged and I moved forward at the same time he did.  The resultant thwack sent a shockwave that can only be described as nasty.

The good news is that I never hit the ground.  It hurt like hell and I remember shouting and more or less hanging onto Sid.  We were both pretty stressed out and after several minutes, I gathered the eggs, stomped back into the house and started making phone calls.  I tried to get hold of my husband (failed for various reasons) and my neighbor who is an emergency flight for life nurse (she wasn't there either).  However, as I was looking at myself in the mirror, applying ice and wondering if I should go to the emergency room, my neighbor calls and offers to come up and inspect.

The good news is I most likely don't have a concussion and the bone that got hit was actually one of the tougher bones in the skull.  I missed the temple by an inch and impacted the orbital ridge.  So, I have a shiner and I look and feel awful, but I will live.  She called and checked on me later tonight and if I had really hurt myself, she would drive me to the emergency room.  So, tonight I am resting and feeling really stupid.

After she checked up on me, we went down to the barn and Sid and I made up.  Sid put his head close to mine and let me catch him and I petted him.  We both decided it was way too much excitement for one day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fun with Nick and Sid

12:38 AM
Things have been kind of wonky here lately, so I'll try to update you on the llamas.

The llama vet came for a visit and declared Nick being much older than the rancher told me.  The rancher thought Nick was 8.  According to the vet, Nick is 14.  The vet said Sid was 12.  Although I know that the vet is probably closer to the age than the rancher, I know it's more or less an educated guess than anything.  The vet didn't think I would be able to work Nick much.  I think there's more likely light duty work ahead for him.

One problem I ran into was Nick suddenly went blind for two days.  Some llama breeders told me it might be llama polio, which is a deficiency of thiamine due to stress or diet change.  I had asked the vet about the blindness and the vet thought he was just blind.  But, Nick's eyesight started improving, which suggests something temporary.  Who knows?

Nick's crappy ears are from a genetic defect that runs in a particular line out of Darby.  Traceable to a llama ranch from there.  Seeing as they aren't infected and Nick is a gelding and couldn't be bred anyway, I'm not really concerned.  Furthermore, Nick's lines come from Bolivian stock and he has a very old head.  Sid too is of an older type of llama.

Once Sid got over the shock of having someone else in his pen, he's settled down and is a bit calmer.  Sid is top llama and Nick is second.  Or should I say I am top llama, Sid is second and Nick is third?  Today while husband and I were visiting, Sid came over and behaved very deferentially towards me.  He lowered his head and put his lips to mine in a type of sniffing/kissing behavior that distinctly said that I was top of the herd.  Kind of funny and very ticklish.  Nevermind they're still aloof and skittish, but he's genuinely not terrified of me anymore and acts like he just needs to act funny at me.  Sid has a really funny personality.  He loves to act like he's a tough-guy, but he really likes me. 

I've trained both llamas to eat out of my hands.  Very cool and even ticklish.  Sid is gentler than Nick who has actually pinched my palm with his teeth.  But seeing as llamas don't have top incisors, my skin gets pinched between top gums and bottom teeth.  Unlikely to draw blood.

It has been too icy for us to walk them.  I don't want to risk an injury for either them or us.