Thursday, 31 December 2009
I haven't been able to bring myself to use the new camera yet as the girls are absolutely filthy, why do they feel the need to roll in the mud when it is so cold. They seem to prefer the muddiest areas instead of where we still have grass. The haylage we bought them for xmas has absolutely spoilt them (Ollie reckons it smells of red wine) ; any that dropped on the ground was picked up and eaten, they leave the hay where it has dropped.
I got a facebook invite to go and rock to the New Year with Asparagus Now (a band from Liverpool) unfortunately it is too far to go for the night and with the boys away for the next few weeks we couldn't leave the animals. There appears to be only about three taxi cabs in the whole of Devon and they can charge what they like so as it would be double that tonight we have decided to stay in. Never mind, we have got our own gig going on. Thank heavens for Wii and Guitar Hero. Coffee and ginger biscuits. We're not letting the rock and roll lifestyle go.
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year.
Friday, 25 December 2009
Irene has settled down after a late dinner to wath Strictly Come Dancing, through her eyelids. I'm disgusted to be honest that's my job.
After a lie in this morning (just to annoy the impatient boys) we got up to give the animals their Christmas treats. Some extra fruit for the pigs and apples and some sweet haylage for the alpacas and goats. Yes Rob goats get over it lol.
Everyone here seems to have liked their presents.
I hope all of our followers have got exactly what they want and enjoy the rest of their day.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Tonight we were sitting watching tv and I mentioned that I thought the generator sounded a bit strange, Si had just opened the door to go out and check when it cut out. Luckily, we have a spare petrol one and he got that one started so that we could see again. He then said sheepishly 'It's my fault, Hun, I've put petrol in the car and generator'. He had checked the receipt from the garage and realised that he had put petrol in 2 cans and the car instead of diesel. That's something to be sorted in the morning. What a noodle? You'd never find a woman doing something that stupid.
Luckily, all the animals are fine and they have actually started to use the field shelters. We can tell because a few of them are wearing the fresh straw we laid down in there yesterday. It is supposed to be a bit warmer tonight but when Si went to check the water buckets again before he had to break a thin film of ice but it hadn't frozen as much as it had been. They seem a lot happier walking on the hard ground, as cold as it must be, after wading through the mud we had suffered for the past few weeks. I have checked and they haven't developed webbed feet yet.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Si has spent some time cleaning out the gutters on the park home today, it's amazing how blocked they had become in just a few months. I was checking out the plant pots, something has been stealing the winter flowering pansies by pulling them right out of the pots, roots and all, and then just dumping them on the ground. Although it is difficult to believe at the moment but spring is almost on the way, my daffodil and crocus bulbs have started to show above ground (I'm really clutching at straws here trying to be optimistic about the weather). The water buckets still have to have the ice broken on them twice a day but I'm hoping that nature knows more than we do.
Friday, 18 December 2009
The good news is that Si can now drive the car over all the ground because it is frozen hard. This is just as well as the water has frozen in the pipes and we have no water in the house and he is having to drive up to the outdoor tap where the water arrives on our land to fill up water containers for us.
The bird feeders have been really busy all day and we have now got a few new species so tomorrow I will have to get my bird book out to try and identify them. We have promised the boys that we will buy the Xmas tree over the weekend so while I am out I will buy some lard and make up some fat balls for them to try to keep them warm.
We haven't seen much of the pigs today, they have been snuggled up together in their ark keeping warm and looking quite content though.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
He moved some of the feeders closer to the house today so that we can watch the girls eating. We have had so much mist that we hate not being able to see them so much. I can't wait to have a paddock right up to the window.
All the alpacas look as though they could do with a good hosing down. I've never seen them so muddy, twigs and leaves are sticking to them and we spend a good deal of time picking them out of their coats. They are also having difficulty finding their way around the new fencing too now and we have to go and find any that are trapped in our new maze and lead them out with the feed bucket.
When Ollie went to feed the goats tonight he found three mice in the feed bin. We found one the other day but couldn't find out how it got in. There are no holes that we can find and the lid fits quite tightly. Obviously the original mouse is now sub-letting space to any homeless rodents it can find. We just scraped off the top layer of food and put it on the bird table. I can't bring myself to buy mouse poison as they are really cute we'll just have to find something more secure to store animal feed in.
The weather forecast showed that we were going to have snow but there was only one flake on the picture and if it did land here then one of the alpacas obviously ate it. The boys are really disappointed but I'm quite relieved after the snow we had earlier in the year when we were snowed in for three days solid.
Monday, 14 December 2009
Si is hoping to be able to get the car up to the top paddocks tomorrow to get the fencing finished up there. He spent the weekend fitting strainers.
Our new camera arrived today and Ollie pounced on it straight away 'Oh mum, I love gadgets, I'd have been no good in Tudor times'. I don't think he realised that he would have had no concept of them then. Still, it's not as bad as when his older brother asked me what dinosaur meat used to taste like. Hopefully, I'll be able to use this camera myself and get some shots on here.
The trees are now completely bare. I thought we had a few leaves hanging on for dear life but they flew away. I must be due for another eye test soon.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
The alpacas all got their fluke treatment and were taking it fine until Si and the boys got to this years cria and they all spat it out and had to be done a second time. They've all been body scored and checked over, no absesses or injuries which is a relief.
After lunch Si and the boys went back to fencing. We've run out of staples again so they started to dismantle more of the unwanted paddocks and we can re-use that top rail somewhere else.
I opened all the windows this morning because of the gorgeous day and today I have learned that if you open all the windows at this time of the year in the country you then have to spend the rest of the day collecting oak leaves from the beds, bath and all carpets.
I have also learnt that you do not let a man loose in the kitchen with a blender unless you are on standby with a pot of paint and brush. As nice as the pasta sauce was, tomatoes do stain white walls.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Yesterday I thought that Si had moved us inside the Arctic Circle overnight (and taken the quilt with him) it just didn't seem to get light at all. The boys took it in their stride though and carried on with the fencing.
Today the weather has been beautiful, blue skies, animals pronking and chasing each other. Even though it has been cold the sun has been shining and their coats have started to dry out. They all look as though they have protruding spines as their fibre is drying from the top down. Tomorrow we are going to spend the day checking them all over and giving more A,D & E and treating for liver fluke as a precaution. We don't usually have any standing water in the paddocks or anywhere near but the weather of the last few weeks has meant that is nearly all we have. We're hoping the rain holds off enough to get the car into the field to get the rest of the fencing done over the weekend.
Friday, 4 December 2009
It looks as though we have had a visit from Willy Wonka who has poured some of his chocolate river in all our gateways. I may end up joining Augustus Gloop when I check the animals. Who knows where I'll end up?
After getting our first Xmas card I thought I'd better test the new oven here and try baking. I made some mince pies, chocolate and lemon fairy cakes (a dozen of each). The oven works fine and it then prompted Ollie to go and find his stocking; he's now 15 and I was hoping that he had grown out of it but if there's a chance of it being filled then he'll happily pretend he believes in Father Christmas again. I've saved the remains of the pastry to put on the bird table tomorrow morning. It may have been freezing outside but it was so hot in here with the oven being on for so long that the dogs were desperate to get outside for a cool down.
This evening I've been working on the alpaca database again; it is really slow entering all the animals. The most fascinating part is putting all the information going back generations and finding out exactly what bloodlines we have, it will really make life a lot easier with reminders for medications and working out the exact birth dates; I just hope that the alpacas will keep to the exact date they are due.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Si and I dashed out to get some more fencing materials and needles for the Vitamin A, D & E injections. We also bought some special chuck for the drill so that we could fit a really large bit on to enable us to fit the gate hinges the four of us then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get it off again because it didn't look straight. It didn't really matter though because the rain was far too heavy to work in. We have so much water lying on the surface now that it is a real struggle to work, wellies are sticking in the ground and it takes brute strength just to lift our feet with a boot still on. Luckily, the puncture repair kit is holding up well on mine, so no more soggy socks for me.
The alpacas are all holding up well but are still not using the field shelters. We have spent the evening looking at cameras on the 'puter so that we can start to take more photos of them for the website and here.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
The party was in the afternoon and we left to travel back about 6.30 but the weather was absolutely horrendous and traffic was still heavy. Poor Si was doing all the driving and we ended up stopping before we had even reached Birmingham so that he could rest his eyes and have coffee. He really had to take it steady coming back so we didn't arrive back until 1am. He then slept in this morning and was late going to do his hard sums.
Phillip stayed and babysat the animals and when I counted them this morning we still had the same amount as when we left so he must have done ok.
The weather hasn't improved down here and after walking on ground that didn't move under my feet yesterday it took some getting used to trying to get around on all this mud again. I tried to check the animals feet this morning to make sure there were no injuries but gave it up as a lost cause because they were just sinking in the mud. Their knees are all looking fine though. I did manage to pull twigs out of their coats, they are full of them.
The boys did some more of the fencing this afternoon when we had a very short dry spell, it is really slow going because of the weather. Si has said that it won't take long to do once he can get the car up there but I think he needs two consecutive dry days and I can't see us getting them until next Spring.
Friday, 27 November 2009
My poor animals look dreadful. They're so wet that their coats have lost a lot of their fluffiness and they look as though they have lost loads of weight, if only the same thing happened to me when it rains. They haven't lost their appetites though. I popped out to play with the goats when the rain stopped for a short time today and the alpacas must have thought it was feed time and came charging over. I felt so guilty about them being out in the rain, although it is really their own fault as they won't use their field shelters, that they got their dinner early.
I decided to crack on with entering all the animal details onto the database. It's brilliant because the animals we bought from Wellground have every toenail cutting, medicine etc listed from the day they were born so I have just been copying the printouts that Rob and Les gave us then adding on meds that we have given. I really must stop thinking of the alpacas as being my babies because I entered all of them as having blue eyes, well I have and my ex husband has so it seems logical to me at the time. It was only when I thought I had finished for the night that I realised what I had done and had to go back in and correct them all. Think how much damage I could do if I was naturally blonde. I think I will blame the fact that it was too noisy to concentrate with the hammering of the rain on the roof.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
I fed the alpacas their evening meal and then decided that the goats were ready to have their hooves trimmed. It's quite an easy job with pigmy goats as you just pick them up. Cherub is used to being handled as she has been cuddled from the day she was born. I sat on a bale of hay and sat her on my knee while Ollie trimmed her feet. She just tucked her head under my chin and stayed perfectly still but I think I would too if Ollie approached me with those clippers. Sweetheart isn't as keen on being cuddled but he behaved really well. They then knew it was time for their tea and they danced about on their hind legs on the way to their feed trough then proceeded to circle it waiting for me and Ollie to catch up.
I had a telephone call this evening with the PM results of the girl that died the other day. The vet was right, she had a twisted gut. It doesn't make it any easier but at least we know that she isn't in pain now. Her baby is still feeding from another girl and seems to be thriving. I've had lovely messages from people after last nights blog, so thank you. It probably seems silly to other farmers but I think that alpacas are pretty special, as daft as they are and ours are looking pretty grotty at the moment.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Si and the boys have been struggling with the fencing despite the weather but it has been really slow going. The ground is too soft to be able to use vehicles on so it means posts etc are being carried by hand to where they are needed. We are almost bent double fighting against the wind as we walk uphill, poor Si looks as though he will snap in two being so tall.
Yesterday we had some really sad news. The alpaca that had been off-colour died on Sunday night. The vet and MGB were absolutely marvelous but it just got to the stage of keeping her as comfortable as possible. The vet seems to think that it was a twisted gut and has taken her for a PM. I don't think I will ever get used to animals dying even though we were warned about this before started breeding the alpacas.
The noise around here is dreadful at the moment. Gales are still blowing but the forecast is for them to get worse over night and die down tomorrow. We are also forecast a few dry days with sunshine. I can't wait. My poor animals are filthy but they're still not staying in the field shelters.
Read Zanzibar's blog before and picked up a great tip for repairing my wellies. They developed a leak yesterday so tomorrow I will be looking for the boy's puncture repair kits.
Friday, 20 November 2009
MGB telephoned first thing to let me know that the girl that was worrying us was a lot more comfortable after the vet called yesterday and gave her an injection and she has been getting up a bit more. She even let her cria feed from her even though she has next to no milk.
Ollie and Phil have been fitting more top rails today and tomorrow they will be doing more dismantling of unwanted fencing. I'm glad we had the contractor here on Wednesday as we heard this evening that he went down with swine flu yesterday. We all contracted it earlier in the year so should have immunity from it now, at least we hope so as we have never felt so ill.
I refilled all the hay bags and the alpacas all came running as soon as they spotted them. They do love anything new. It's really strange though, I could have sworn we had mainly white alpacas but they seem to have disappeared and been replaced with mid fawn ones, they're all the same shade as the clay soil we have here. Although the weather has been beautiful today the ground is still really muddy and with more rain forecast over the weekend they may clean up a bit.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
The pigs couldn't be tempted out of their ark. That is most unusual because they are normally out screaming and grunting at the first sound of somebody with the feed bins. I think they were really disgruntled. I went and collected some nettles for them to cheer them up and they were soon back to normal. Their usual supply is now almost replete so I will have to start searching further for them.
Mimi had managed to get into one of the new paddocks on her own and had to be coaxed out with the feed bucket. She was soon back with the rest of the herd but it is a bit of a worry as she had been cushing against the fence with Merlin on the other side. She absorbed her pregnancy last year and has been mated 4 times this year, she has even been flushed by the vet. She does seem to be getting pregnant, as she spits off for about a month, but then absorbs it. We will have to start all over with her again in the Spring.
Paddock cleaning is absolutely horrendous with the amount of rain we are having and a paddock cleaner is very firmly on the wish list. The boys went out to put some more top rails on today but found that Si had gone off to the office with the saws in the back of the car. I think we will have to check the car every day before he goes.
We've just checked the weather forecast for tomorrow to try to plan what we can do outside but as it says that we have heavy rain at the moment and there isn't a drop falling I don't think that we can rely on what it says for tomorrow. We will just have to look out of the window when we wake up.
The alpacas seem to be getting really excited about the new layout. They have all been pronking on and off all day it's as though the older ones have rediscovered their inner cria. It's wonderful to watch and cheers everybody up even though the days are grey at the moment.
Si phoned me from one of the paddocks to ask if I had seen the goats. I went into panic mode thinking they has escaped but it was just that Sweetheart was trying to mate with Cherub. He no longer has the necessary equipment and they are far too young anyway but nothing was going to put him off. He even started to take a run up before jumping on her. It was really funny to watch but I was worried about Cherub getting really fed up and stressed. I telephoned MGB for advice and they have reassured me that it should only go on for about 3 days or so.
One of our girls, who only gave birth about 4 weeks ago, appears to be ill. There is nothing obvious, she just keeps sitting down a lot and her milk has dried up. No worries there though because her cria is feeding off one of the other mums. She has been seen by the vet who can find nothing wrong but if she is still bad tomorrow then blood samples will be taken. My idea of post natal depression wasn't even considered. Why can't alpacas be hormonal too?
Si and I dashed to the shops about 6 tonight and when we got back Top Gear was on TV again with the two boys sprawled on the sofa. Is this programme never off? They watch repeats of repeats and then there is also the option of watching them again on +1. I was having none of this so promptly switched over. Guess what? While I was washing up after dinner they managed to find a repeat of a programme that had only been on once before (This week's Top Gear which we missed on Sunday. Si). I'm blaming Rob at Wellground. They seem to think that alpaca farmers have to have a perverse interest in fast cars and other dirty oily things like dirt bikes, quad bikes and tractors. I can see this is all going to cost me a fortune.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
During the stormy weather we have been having we actually started to use Alpaca Manager, we downloaded it last week but took laptop and alpaca records to bed with us last night and started to input all the info. You can tell we have been together a long time from that sentence. I remember the days .......................
Fencing is coming on and tomorrow more posts should be going in. The ground is really slippery at the moment and when I was pushing the wheelbarrow today after doing the paddock cleaning I slipped and fell right into it. Thank goodness it doesn't smell and it soon washes off and looking on the bright side I had a really soft landing. I would have been really upset if I'd just cleaned the pigs out though.
Ollie and Phil fitted some of the top rails this afternoon while we went shopping so I was really pleased with them. They couldn't do any yesterday as Si had driven to the office with all the nails in the back of the car.
Spoken to MGB a couple of times today trying to arrange another get together and to get to see the girls and babies they are looking after for us. I'm also planning on getting another goat from them but they aren't due until February or March so it feels like a long wait but with so much work still to do I'm sure it will soon pass.
Si was still working outside when it got dark tonight but opened the door to tell me that all the alpacas were pronking around the perimeter. I love watching them pronk so dashed out without a coat to watch, it was so funny. I could just see white shapes bouncing around, they looked like fat ghosts. We still have so much grass that they are a bit on the large side but, hopefully, it will keep them a bit warmer until we get a barn to give them extra shelter. Ms Humphreys is huge as she is due to give birth at the beginning of spring and she wasn't shorn this year so her coat was flying up and down as she pronked.
Friday, 13 November 2009
I went over to feed the girls and out of the mist came a man wearing long white robes with a scroll under his arm which had instructions for building a boat, he introduced himself as Noah (people who keep goats eh Rob). The rain really has been that bad and is due to go on for the next few days at least.
We were due a gas delivery today which was a bit of a relief as the gas in the fire ran out last night. By 11 I was dancing to 'Beat It' by Michael Jackson on the radio wearing Ugg type slippers and my woolly hat to try to keep warm. What a sight I must have looked. I remember the days when I never went over the door without wearing makeup and shoes and bags always had to match, now I look like a bag lady.
My feet were sinking into the mud fast at the gateways and the holes I was creating quickly filled with water, it wasn't so bad as I was well wrapped up but Chance, who loves cuddles, came up next to me while I was putting the feed in the troughs and ran her neck and face all over my face; she obviously felt in the need of some affection. This would not have been so bad but she had clearly been rolling in mud and because our soil is heavy clay it stuck to me. I wish the girls at least would go into the shelter but they seem quite contented getting wet and muddy.
We've been listening to branches hitting the roof all day because of the gales and apparently it is going to be worse tomorrow. Good news on the fencing front though, the man phoned today full of apologies for forgetting and said that he could come out on Wednesday so Si is going to change his office days this week just so we can get the work done.
The bad news is the man with the pole basher didn't turn up this morning, so that is probably going to delay proceedings.
The living room is looking a lot smarter now after the boys put the new sideboard together and in to place. All the rubbish is behind closed doors.
Next job on the horizon is to get a log burner fitted. I've been looking on the internet for instructions for making Alpaca poo bricks without much success. I think I can workout how to make them, I just don't know how long they take to dry.
Been stuck inside most of the day as the weather has been horrendous, even had difficulty connecting to the internet since we only have a mobile connection. It has been nice this evening seeing how many foreign visitors we have had reading this blog. I've spent most of the day relearning how to crochet and doing my nails after seeing how beautiful Rosemary's were.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
We were waiting for deliveries of a new washing machine and sideboard so I was watching out of the window on a regular basis when I heard bugles at the same time as I saw a large van go past the end of our lane. My 'phone rang and it was the delivery man asking exactly where we were so I told him to turn around and gave him directions. Our dogs suddenly started to bark and riders on horseback dashed past our gate. Luckily I went to the other window to make sure the alpacas weren't being scared when I saw two of the hunt dogs in the distance only a few feet from the herd heading straight for them. The alpacas were staring and screeching. I slipped on a pair of shoes and shouted to the boys to come and help. We ran across as the dogs raced past us, wagging their tails and slunk under the gate. A couple of the riders were on the other side of the hedge blowing their horns, I can't tell you where I wanted to shove them. The boys handled the delivery of the washing machine while I then replaced muddy shoes with wellies and went to check all the alpacas. My heart was in my mouth because I thought I could see our only dark cria, Temple, not moving. I took the feed bucket thinking that I would try to pacify them with food while I checked them all. Temple was fine, what I had been looking at was a full black hay net; I really must go for an eye test. I'm sure it had me more stressed than the alpacas. They just acted as though nothing had happened and followed me and the bucket quite happily.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
We made a mad dash over to Exeter after we had finished the chores here and didn't get back until it had already gone dark. Luckily Ollie had already fed all the animals, I think this was more in anticipation of what we had been shopping for in town, xmas is almost here and he and Phil have been dropping so many hints. We bought an advent calendar for Ollie and then decided that Phil would be insulted if we bought him one because he is 20; apparently not, he now wants one. I had a lottery ticket to cash in, I never used to do the lottery but decided to start when we moved down here and I was really surprised to have won £54 in October, I never remember to check them and then end up with loads of them cluttering up my handbag.
When we got back we had about half an hour to get ready to go to the monthly quiz night at the White Hart in Wilmington. It is always good fun and I am happy to say that we came third so qualified for a prize. We're rich we won £8. This is all practice for the millions I am going to win in the next few years.
I came on here once we were back from the pub and found a really funny photo my cousin had sent via a link on facebook
Monday, 9 November 2009
It really brightened up this afternoon so I got on with paddock cleaning while Ollie and Phil dismantled some of the fencing that we no longer need.
We've spent the evening making a shopping list for a trip to Mole Valley tomorrow. We're going to order some alpaca hurdles and apparently we need some more 12ft gates. Not exactly the most exciting shopping trip I've been on but it has to be done and it is nice to buy things that will make life easier.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
While they were doing that I did the evening feeds but struggle with the gates and obviously hadn't closed one properly. The next thing I knew all the girls with this years cria had got into the paddock with the two year old boys. I had a terrible time trying to separate them, I kept getting them mixed up. I realised I had got one of the boys into the girls paddock (I only did this by practically bending double to look underneath them) then Si came to help when I had almost sorted them out. He then let one of the boys into the girls paddock so we were back to square one. I did what I used to do with the children when they were small, I resorted to bribery. The girls will always follow the bucket but for some reason the boys don't.
We're sending the contract off for the barn tomorrow along with the deposit so it is really getting exciting. Si may end up spending his Xmas holidays doing blockwork etc but at least things are moving now. He did mention something about hardcore but I think he means stones and things on the ground.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Ollie and Phil built the shed that has been sitting in pieces for a couple of weeks, they have really started to get motivated now that they can see the place coming together. They were full of enthusiasm when we first moved here but as things dragged on they started to get a bit bored of just living in a field in the middle of nowhere. They are planning where everything is going to go now and will be fitting the actual fencing to the posts tomorrow and hanging gates. I must admit the part they are really looking forward to is getting the digger back to flatten an area for the foundations of the barn. There are probably more technical terms for what they are going to do but I don't know them and I don't really want to know them. I still call that big metal thing for the fencing a post basher and I think that is perfectly adequate, it explains exactly what it does, although I am always being corrected.
OD* (I will probably have to stop calling her that soon) has started work. She has been walking around Liverpool for weeks handing out her CV and finally it has paid off. She now has 2 part-time jobs as well as Uni so she is going to be really busy. I'm so proud of her because she didn't give up when she kept getting told there were no vacancies. Even with the job she has just started she was told there were no vacancies but they telephoned her half an hour after she had given them her CV and invited her for an interview. I can't see her having much of her wages left though because it is in WHSmith and the temptation will be too great, the pair of us have a 'thing' about pretty stationary.
The rain has absolutely poured down tonight so it looks as though it will be another muddy and slippery day tomorrow. When we first moved down here I loved having to wear 'wellies' because I hadn't worn them since I was a child but the novelty is starting to wear off now that we can't take a step outside without them.
*Si just pointed something out. I'm not pregnant, just that she will no longer deserve the name Overdraft so I will start to refer to her as DD (Darling Daughter).
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Apart from that we have had a really good day. We have had showers on and off but mainly sunshine with lovely clear blue skies. Si started off by cleaning out the pigs then giving them 3 bales of straw to play with and keep them warm. I collected nettles for them as they absolutely love eating them but they leave the stems lying around, I don't know why they won't touch them. Si filled up all the hay bags and the alpacas followed him around with them. He looked a bit like the Pied Piper with 18 animals chasing him round the perimeter of the paddocks.
Si was still working when it got dark getting everything ready for when the contractor arrives on Saturday morning to get the fence posts in. It's pathetic how excited we are about this after waiting so long for our planning and then to actually find somebody local willing to do it.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Twice during the afternoon I put my outdoor clothes on again to do the paddock cleaning and the rain started up. As soon as I had settled to do some chores indoors the sun would come out. All the animals got their evening feeds early as it got quite warm around 4pm.
Tonight it is bright, with a large moon, dry and warm so I really hope that it holds on for tomorrow because there are so many jobs we want to get done before the weekend.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
I have a facebook page to keep in touch with family members and a few friends. Somebody put a picture on of (supposedly) an alpaca dressed up. It was actually a llama. Never mind, we'll forgive them as you don't get many of either on the streets of Liverpool. It has now started a debate on whether you can ride an alpaca or not. I have told them it is impossible but now my daughter's ex has said that he has researched the subject intently and found that they can be ridden by somebody under 30kg so is now going on a diet.
The birds are making full use of the feed we have been putting out. It took them a bit of time to find it after we had to move their table when we sited the park home. Today we have had Great Tits, Nuthatches, Robins and on the ground picking up the crumbs Thrushes. We were also relieved to have had a visit from our friendly Pheasant after all the gunshots the other day. It costs us a small fortune to keep the birds fed, it is a lot cheaper than theatre tickets but just as entertaining.
The rain is absolutely hammering on the roof at the moment and the forecast for tomorrow is rain all day, not even a small window for me to get out to work. It will be a quick feed and check in the morning then. I'm just hoping that they have got the sense to get in the field shelters tonight but because we have an (almost) full moon we can still see the white alpacas sitting out.
Monday, 2 November 2009
We had a surprise yesterday morning. We have been trying to get fence posts put in for the past few months and finally a contractor returned our call from weeks ago and has promised to come out next Saturday to make a start. If we get the new paddocks done we can then finally get the barn built. The boys can't wait to get diggers, tractors and other boy toys here to play on.
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Once we were back I went over to clean the girl's paddock but went through the top gate again. The girls spotted me heading that way and all crowded round humming, they had seen the long grass and put me on a guilt trip. I decided that as they were so good and easy to get back in yesterday I would let them wander for a bit. When I'd finished 'waste management' (just in case Rosemary's mum reads this) I thought that I deserved a cup of coffee, which I had sitting on the step because the weather was so good. I was listening to the birds in the hedgerow and watching them fly out to the feeding station for peanuts and sunflower seed. I have decided that one day I will be able to identify them from their cries. In the background we could hear gunshots that seemed to be getting closer and closer and started to worry about the alpacas getting stressed but then they faded away again. Suddenly there was a vroom, vroom behind me but that was just Si watching the qualifying for tomorrows Grand Prix.
We heard fireworks going off this evening but couldn't see anything lighting up the sky whichever way we looked. I put on 'Strictly Come Dancing' and before it had finished there was another funny sound coming from the sofa, it was Si snoring. This is really strange, as for a man whose only previous contribution to the Great British Dance Movement was pogoing with a bottle of Stella in his hand, he normally becomes the fifth judge criticising arm positions, choice of music, rise and fall etc.
Peace and quiet, please, I would love some.
Friday, 30 October 2009
I was feeling really pleased with myself until I checked out Rob's Blog on Wellground's website. They have some absolutely stunning items for sale. I remember Les showing me one of their jumpers and it was so beautifully soft. I am now really jealous and can't wait until I can start knitting our fibre. I have already started to collect knitting patterns in preparation.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Mimi spat off last week but we kept finding her sitting next to the fence of Merlin's paddock so Si took her into the pen with him and she promptly sat for him again so she was obviously not pregnant. Cherrybomb also went down. Today we put them in pens with Hallmark and Augustus to be remated. Cherrybomb went down almost straight away and Augustus went to work for about 40 minutes. Mimi ran round and round and promptly spat green slime all over Mark. Mark had just been an innocent bystander, honestly. She then came over to me for cuddles. She is one of the few alpacas that actually likes to have her head stroked, it must be because she was bottle fed as a cria. You won't find any complaints about that from me; I love the fact she wants attention.
With the matings over we came in for coffees and I was really amiss. I forgot to get the biscuits out. I know that unless you have a huge tin filled with biscuits all the time you haven't earned the title 'alpaca farmer'.
When the boys had gone I planted a few more spring bulbs while Si was spreadeagled on top of the horse box. Some of the seal had broken so he was on the roof doing repairs and then called to me to do the evening feeds while he finished before it went dark. It seems I have to handle both ends of all the animals at the moment. When we came in I spent the evening hanging four pairs of curtains that I had made so that I can decide what length to hem them.
Monday, 26 October 2009
I could hardly find the alpacas this morning to feed them. We have had horrible fine rain all day so I just did a quick check of all the animals when I fed them this morning. The poor things looked like drowned rats. Mimi tried to follow me (or should I say the bucket) out of the paddock, I think she wanted to come into the dry and warm. Mimi is four years old but is such a baby still, she pronks with the cria and is lovely to watch.
Cherub and Sweetheart normally act as though rain is acid and run for shelter as soon as it starts but they must have got bored and decided to risk it today to come out to graze. I could hear them crying for attention but I wasn't going to play with them today.
Si normally does the evening feeds, even on the days he does his hard sums, but with the weather being so bad I thought I would do them while he was travelling home. The rain had started to get heavier so I decided that I would don his new waterproofs. Si is a foot taller than me so I had to roll up the trousers. I must admit that I've had coats shorter than his jacket was on me, but at least I stayed dry. He arrived home just as I was finishing and couldn't believe the weather had been this bad all day. He only works 20 miles away and they didn't get any rain there until about 5pm.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
It's been an absolutely gorgeous day here. "Crackin' the flags" as they say in Liverpool, really warm and sunny. Bacardi and Coke (the pigs) spent the morning sunbathing on the fresh straw we had put down for them yesterday and Cherub and Sweetheart (pygmy goats) played on their climbing frame and platform. They were standing on their hind legs and looked as though they were having a boxing match, so cute.
Today has been spent doing more spit offs and worming injection. Si went to get all the girls that hadn't been done the other day into the catch pen ready for the spit offs but Ms Humphreys went down in the paddock and refused to move. She was nowhere near the male, she was just being her usual stubborn self. She's far too heavy to be carried and so she got her own way, again, and was left while he tested all the other girls. She spat off 2 weeks ago so we will try her again next weekend. Nobody will ever boss her around. Si asked Phil (2nd son) if he would help with the injections and was told "I don't 'do' injections". When Si explained that he would only have to hold the alpacas still he was a lot more willing to help. I think he has seen us stab ourselves too many times but Si should have told him that he was no safer holding the animals as I've managed to get the needle into his thumb instead of the alpacas skin but my aim is getting better.
OD and I had planted some strawberry plants the other day so after I had cleaned the paddocks I put some of the poo around them. I also planted some more bulbs in tubs in the hope we have a colourful display of crocuses and daffodils in the early spring. It then started to get dark so we had to come in. I suppose we had spent more time than was necessary with the alpacas though but they are such time wasters when they want to be. It was a shock to the system that night time had come so quickly when it was still warm enough to be outside.
Si has just asked if he can watch the highlights of the Liverpool game. It's football, there are no highlights. He still hasn't forgiven me for the time he took me to the pub to watch a match and I referred to the stuff they wear as a uniform. The result was 0:0 and I commented that it had all been a waste of time to create that much dirty laundry. For some reason he never took me again.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
We got back from Taunton to a horribly windy and wet farm. Its funny how the weather has become an obsession in planning work around here, we've even got a weather website in our favourites on the computer. I only used to worry about my hair if the weather was bad and that would mean phoning a taxi to go less than a quarter of a mile instead of walking. How life changes.
The animals were a bit be-draggled and because Ms Humphreys fleece was hanging flat we noticed how fat she was looking. How do we put an alpaca on a diet? It is still warm here most of the time so the grass is still growing. As she is always first to us when she sees the feed bucket we have to raise it above our heads and tease her with it while the others get to the troughs first. The others were all fine when Si did the body scoring last week. She is always first at everything. When the rain starts she runs like mad for the field shelters and then decided who she will let in.
Our goats our really enjoying their new red mineral licks. We haven't actually seen them using them but the fact that they have bright red faces shows that they are licking them when we're not looking, such messy eaters. Maybe they're the goat equivalent of lollipops.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
We did four spit offs and all the girls went mad so we now have a green male alpaca and it looks as though the matings last Tuesday were all successful but as it is always with alpacas we will just have to wait and see.
We cleaned two paddocks and then went round searching for stones in the ground. We have an awful lot of large flints that work to the surface so we collect them now and again to prevent the animals getting cuts on their pads.
We moved Ms Humphreys, she is such a diva, and she remembered exactly where her dust bath was. She is our only suri and she loves to roll in dust and mud. She is definitely the boss; she is always first to the feed bucket as soon as we get through the gate then she works her way along the troughs. If I don't let her get her head in the bucket I end up with grass and slime in my hair. I have learnt not to wash my hair before the morning feed but I have to admit she is one of my favourites.
This afternoon the heavens opened and Si was so glad that we had bought him new waterproofs at the weekend but I stayed snuggly inside and caught up with some knitting.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Biffy and Proud Mum
We've had a really packed day. After the feeds and checks this morning we had to take Ollie into Exter to catch the coach to Liverpool. He has gone to spend half-term with his friends in Liverpool; the coach driver didn't seem too happy with the amount of luggage he was taking but it did include his guitar. OD and I decided to embarrass him as the coach was packed. As it pulled out of the station we blew kisses and waved at him but the coach driver thought I was blowing kisses at him so I was the one who ended up with the red face as Ollie sank lower and lower in his seat.
After we had got soaked seeing off Ollie we went across to see our new babies at M and M Alpacas. We discussed all things alpaca for a while then checked that Laura hadn't tried to smuggle one of their pigs out under her coat (she is really enamoured with them) and visited a really pretty village pub for lunch. Phillip was off work today so came with us and we took over the largest table in the dining room. We enjoyed good food and great company but I took some stick over this blog. Mark and Mike no longer wish to be known as MGM they would prefer MGB (my gorgeous boys) then OD decided to get in on the act and object to being called OD, she said that it stands for overdose or overdraft. As she is at Uni for the foreseeable future I think it is highly appropriate.
We retired to Poole Farm for coffee and got onto the subject of winter feeds and care of the alpacas, MGB (NB: boys, your wish is my command) then filled the back of the car with fruit and veg for the pigs and checked out the 'Disco'. The car is called gold on the paperwork but we all decided it is really beige so that has aged Si by about 20 years. We then went off to get some mineral lick for the goats and bought loads of treats for our cockatiel. There are now so many toys in her cage that it resembles a creche.
Monday, 19 October 2009
When Si got back from his day job (he spends three days a week in an office doing hard sums) we all got ready to go out while Ollie did the evening feeds and checks. We had a lovely evening and dinner at the White Hart in Wilmington. We've always had fantastic food and service there but they've now made life difficult. They used to have a dessert board with a small choice but now they've gone 'all posh' and put them in the main menu so it takes much longer to choose. It just means we'll have to go more often to work my way through them all.
Looking forward to tomorrow when we are going over to see our new cria for the first time, if the weather is fine we should be able to take some photos to put on here.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Laura and I went out paddock cleaning again when the rain had stopped; I told her that she had to search to see if any of them had 'gone' outside the normal area and she laughed and said that this was an unusual form of mother and daughter bonding. She did point out the weather map on tv this evening that the only area of rain was over Devon and the sun was shining up in Liverpool. Whenever she comes down here it rains and she thinks our tans are actually rust.
Phillip (2nd son) arrived back from Liverpool today and we were able to tell him that we had another boy born yesterday; we have decided to call this one Biffy after Biffy Clyro.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Laura must be impressed with the park home because once she found out that her lecture has been cancelled for next Thursday she decided to extend her stay until the weekend and promptly announced it on her Facebook page so it is 'official'.
The new hay must be particularly sweet because it is proving very popular with all the alpacas. We still have loads of grass left but they are preferring the hay at the moment and are all sitting round the hay bags or coming across for a mouthful and walking away. It's like a branch of McDonalds. They'll be asking for toys with their Happy Meals soon.
Si collected his new car today, apparently it's a Disco. I'm not really into 4x4's but it's a necessary evil with a farm. We need something that can tow a horse box and after being snowed in for 3 days last winter I can see the attraction. Ollie is obviously impressed with the fact it has not one sunroof but two and has even asked if he can come to collect his sister from the station tomorrow (anything for a ride in it).
I'm really looking forward to OD arriving tomorrow. I have over 300 bulbs to plant and I know that she will help with them. The fact that her student loan still hasn't come through helps; she is totally reliant on me for rent and food for the foreseeable future.
MGM were across again this afternoon and we spent a happy time planning next years matings. Mark is brilliant at knowing what male to put with which female. We were also discussing fibre and what products we need to be making but there is no hurry with that as we have two years fibre waiting to be sorted once we have our barn up.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
We have had a visit from MGM at M and M Alpacas today. They brought three of their stud males (I can't even begin to list the rosettes they have won). Hallmark won Best Adult Male at the Devon County Show this year and we have used him before. He is so funny; he watches us all the while he is working as though wanting confirmation of his prowess.
Four of our girls were mated today and afterwards they could be heard humming to each other, obviously comparing notes (Oh, how I miss Liverpool on a Friday night). The boys had all been trying to out orgle each other; I don't know why people talk about the peace and quiet of the countryside. It was a right old racket here today. Even Bacardi and Coke (the pigs) tried to get in on the act. They don't like to be ignored and had the odd scream to try and get some attention. They do love to have behind their ears tickled.
Hallmark and Ashdale Halo
Note the prefix on the top two females. You know that old saying 'I loved it so much I bought the company' well Rob and Les were having none of it so we bought some of their animals instead with being so impresed with their quality.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
It's nice to be able to start with all good news. We have nine breeding females over at our friend's farm to be mated to their prize-winning stud males. We have had two safe births in the past two days, one fawn female and one dark brown male. We will be going over to see them later in the week when OD (only daughter, is down from Uni for a few days). This morning we have been trying to decide on names for them, we tend to call our cria after bands we have seen and enjoyed so have settled on Adora for the female, taken from King Adora and Minuteman for the male. After saddling him with that name we are hoping that he isn't a potential stud.
Yesterday we had visitors. Rosemary, Carl and Sam from Westhill Alpacas came to see us. We had emailed each other a few times after I had been enjoying Rosemary's blog for the few months that we have had internet access down here. Carl and Si talked about boring electricity stuff and things like that, well, they seemed to enjoy it. Rosemary and I were more interested in talking about the alpacas and plans for the future. Four of us had lived in a caravan for 17 months so it is nice to now have a park home and be able to invite people round. The weather was so good that we were able to sit outside and enjoy the views. We are looking forward to seeing them quite a bit in the future. Carl took a liking to our pygmy goats, Sweetheart and Cherub and now wants some. We could have talked for a lot longer but Rosemary is still bottle feeding one of her cria and had to get back.
More good news is that Mark and Mike from M and M Alpacas (henceforth to be knows as MGM, My Gorgeous Men) are coming across with their stud males 'Hallmark' and 'Augustus' on Tuesday to do mobile matings with the last three girls to try to get pregnant. Mark and Mike have become really good friends since we first met them. They have been absolutely amazing and give us a load of laughs when we do manage to get together. Their farm is brilliant and they have worked so hard that every time we visit there are new developments.
This morning I had to telephone Rob at Wellground Alpacas for advice. I am a bit worried about one of our Australian girls. She has been taking herself out of the herd quite a bit and has been humming. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with her and she is grazing and eating normally. When in doubt we always 'phone our mentors. We did a spit off on her yesterday in case she had lost her pregnancy and boy did she spit. I really hope her pregnancy holds as she is mated to Wellground Close Encounter and we are expecting a pretty spectacular result from it. Close Encounter won Champion Intermediate Male at the Royal Bath and Western Show in 2008. The problem with Wellground is that we are spoilt for choice with their stud males. We are using all of them but we have to choose which one to put with each of our girls.
The rain looks as though it is here for the rest of the day and we are going a bit 'stir crazy' being stuck inside. I can catch up with my knitting so that eventually there will be some products to go on the website, which I hope is a hint for Si to work on getting that set up.