Nicola brought lots of sample items to show us, many from her new book which she has just co-published with Chrissie Day. I have the book and love it, but it was extra-nice to see her projects "in person." Based on some of the items she showed us, I wanted to make a scarf/shawl using some nuno collage techniques. Although it wasn't completely different from some things I've already been doing, I did learn some things and loved the result!
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The other students created some stunning items as well, from bags to vessels to wraps. Lots of creativity in that room!
The day after the class was over, my friend Jan (who organized the workshop) brought Nicola out for a visit to our alpaca and llama farm so that she could see some of the local Kentucky bluegrass countryside. I planned a casual hike where we would lead some llamas carrying a little picnic of wine and cheese and fruit (we normally offer "commercial" llama treks, this was going to be an informal version).
One of the llamas, Bandit, is normally a tiny bit edgy but then calms down and can be one of our sweetest and most dependable, having been led by small children on prior hikes. I wasn't 100% sure that he'd carried the pack before, but as I put the pack saddle on him and tightened the girth he stood completely calmly which reassured me that he had in fact done it before. We each took a llama and I gave Jan and Nicola a short spiel about the differences between alpacas and llamas and how to handle them safely.
As we stepped out of the barn, Bandit suddenly turned into a whirling dervish as he felt the contents of his pack bags shifting!!!! He bucked and bucked, with Nicola (experienced wth thoroughbred horses years ago) holding onto his lead rope for dear life!!! As he bucked, the pack saddle and bags banged on his sides and shifted and his panic increased, and after giving her a bad friction burn on her hand Nicola couldn't hold onto the lead any longer. We watched, helpless, as poor Bandit bucked across the field with the pack saddle now practically around his waist and one pack bag flying off, and then he ran out of sight into the woods.....
Nicola ran after him while I put the other two llamas in stalls, and Jan retrieved the pack bag that had already fallen. I joined Nicola and we located the other bag and tracks in the mud leading back toward the field where he normally stays which was nearly 1/2 mile away. We also doctored Nicola's hand which had a bit of skin removed and a big blister- she was a great sport about it but I know it had to hurt. Long story short, Bandit wasn't back down there and I suggested that we search around our farm in the comfort of the air-conditioned Kubota RTV (which gave Jan and Nicola a tour of the farm nonetheless). Although I felt sure he'd go back to his buddies in the field, we were concerned about him getting caught on something since he still had the pack saddle and lead rope attached.
Finally I suggested that we just have our picnic in our breezy, high wildlife observation tower where we'd have a good view in case he appeared, and give him time to settle down and find his way back. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later my daughter came to tell us that he'd arrived back at the llama field and she'd caught him, removed the pack which was around his back legs by then, and put him back with his friends, unscathed. Phew....
We enjoyed our wine and cheese, miraculously the wine bottle hadn't broken although the bananas were mashed over everything and the crackers were mostly crumbs! After we knew Bandit was okay, we laughed over the incident and Nicola recounted some other now-hilarious times when she'd been injured! We returned to the barn for some photos with the llamas and said our farewells. Thanks, Nicola, for coming to Lexington and I hope we can persuade you to return in the fall. I'm sure you'll always remember your visit to Seldom Scene Farm!