blood of the beasts

18 Dec

Part I

The last ruler of the Ottoman Empire died in a Parisian apartment in 1944, twenty-two years after the Sultanate was abolished. He was born into a family that — in 1868 — still ruled an empire stretching from the Balkans to the Indian Ocean. He was the last caliph of Islam, a renowned Ottoman painter, and a butterfly collector with a massive beard. Similarly, I have read a book about the Ottoman Empire’s history (noted by Time Out as being “Perhaps the most readable history ever written on anything”). I was born into a country that rules the world with a ferocity rivaling that of the Ottoman’s greatest Janissaries. My girlfriend collects the largest dead insects that she can find. My beard is flourishing. I too have traveled from Istanbul to Paris. But where Abdulmecid II left off, I have continued. My first Sultanesque step came when Jessica and I boarded a train from Paris to Poitiers, followed by a march through the country, eventually conquering the Limalonges Alpaca Farm — a muddy expanse of land inhabited by, among others, feisty alpacas (in french: alpagas) that spit in your face or kiss you on the nose depending on the weather,  quarreling ducks that pause every five feet to argue about the mud, and a family of pygmy goats that smile so much you’d think they were on mushrooms.

Dawn the Deer

Last week we rescued a baby deer from a chateau’s truffle field where some of the alpacas are kept. She ran from us on three legs before hitting a fence and collapsing. We brought her back to the farm and put her in a stable with a heat lamp and a bowl of goat’s milk. A few days later, she had an epileptic seizure accompanied by horrendous screaming. The neighbor was alarmed, probably because a fawn’s scream sounds exactly like an adult human’s cry of pain, so what he heard must have sounded like we were stabbing someone to death in the stable. Since we couldn’t translate the situation into french, we carried the now unconscious deer to the neighbor’s fence, presenting it to him as some absurd explanation. He observed the animal as if we’d asked him to solve a riddle. It was limp and twitching, wearing an old children’s jacket with a giant owl on it. I gently shook the animal while Jessica mimicked a seizure with her tongue. Our re-enactment worked and the neighbor cautiously retreated into his house.

It’s also possible that the neighbor was confused about why we hadn’t slaughtered the animal and served it with a nice sauce bourguignonne. If we were more rational people we might have realized that catching a free deer is no less exciting and fortunate than finding fifty dollars in the gutter. “You should hit it in the head,” said our seventy-five year old lunch guest, as if we’d missed that step. Another salivating old-timer said, “hopefully she lives long enough to get just a little bit bigger.” They were suggesting, over coffee and pie, that we kill the deer and systematically dismember it. Our guests, provoked by some primal temper tantrum, had already begun to grind their blades, anticipating the disgifuration of life into boney sinew and flesh. “I will strike you without anger and without hate… like a butcher.” said Baudelaire, but please, keep your greedy mouths off of our deer!

Part II

Below you will find two videos from the Limalonges Alpaca Farm. One of the videos is a crazy fun duck chase, and the other is a look into Dawn’s daily life. After watching both, please vote on which you’d like to see more of!

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