There are days on the farm where everything comes to a grinding halt. Spring births take precedence... as do illness, injury and death. It is never good to open the barn in the morning to find an animal down, even if it is expected. Yesterday was one of those days.
Jack-jack, his given name was Commanche Jack, was 12 years old and had been battling cancer for 3 years. As long as his quality of life remained good, we were just waiting. We knew through daily assessment that his time was drawing to a close. He ended his days as he had lived many of those days, in my arms.
Jack came to us in the early days of our alpaca journey. We needed guardians for our herd but knew that the area we lived in guard dogs would not be welcome. Llamas were the perfect solution so Jack and Lorenzo came to live with us. They both were introduced to our adult male herd first. As the boys tend to do, they chased and sniffed and tried to mount both the llamas. Lorenzo didn't put up with their behavior and put an end to it rather quickly. But sweet little Jack just couldn't hold his own... We decided he needed a different herd. As I walked into the pen the next day Jack ran up beside me, I stepped in front of him to redirect the alpacas. He rested his head on my shoulder and leaned into me as if to say "I'm so tired. Thank you for intervening...". We moved him in with the junior boys and after a day of rest, Jack surveyed his charges and his territory and decided he could handle this. And he loved his little boys... Took his job very seriously. And that is where he stayed for his time with us.
Yesterday, Jack held on long enough to say goodbye. We all took turns sitting with him and holding him as he quietly slipped away. I have had many offers to buy him because he was so sweet and so beautiful. The answer was always no, he is not for sale. Jack was my special boy and he will be sorely missed. We love you so much, Jack!
Stacey Skildum is a nurse turned farmer, a yarn snob, gardener and fiber artist.