After getting the call to evacuate immediately, we loaded the alpacas in the trailer first, thinking they would stay in the front section, although we don't have dividers that go all the way down to the ground. That would allow Lucy, our big mare (all 1000 pounds of her) to have the back section to herself.
The trip down the hill was unsettling ~ it's just weird to drive right underneath a huge helicopter ferrying water, with a slurry plane on your left, gunning through the thick clouds of a raging wildfire. I'm not sure what the animals thought of all the noise and smoke...and my fast driving down that curvy mountain road! My husband, driving behind with a cargo trailer (as well as three wailing cats and two confused dogs), wasn't able to keep up.
Once we got to the bottom of our hill, I stopped to check the animals, and E.B. was standing UNDERNEATH Lucy's belly! The mare looked at me with disgust, but there was no place to unload them in the chaos of the moment, amid dozens of cars, trailers and confused people. As I was checking the animals, I saw my husband drive by, and realized he didn't know I'd stopped, so I said a little prayer for the mess in the trailer, ran to the truck and took off through the crowd again.
We stopped two more times along the way, and each time, one of our 150-pound alpacas was standing or lying underneath the horse. I just knew she'd panic, and break someone's back. I prepared myself for heartbreak at the final stop.
Once we arrived at a friends' home and barn, I carefully opened the back door of the trailer, to find Chocolate STUCK underneath Lucy! We pushed and pushed, and couldn't get him to move. Finally, we decided to ask Lucy to unload, and that wonderful mare hitched up her belly and SIDESTEPPED out of the trailer, then looked around for grass as if she did that every day!
I must have hugged that mare for five minutes, crying in her mane, and promising her whatever she wanted for the rest of her life.
Now, they're all back at home, acting as if nothing ever happened. Maybe they've forgotten, but I never will.