Thursday, 31 December 2009

Rockin' All Over The World

This is the time of year I hate, especially being so far away from home and loved ones. The best part is that it is a time for forward planning and our barn should be up in the next few weeks. You can bet your bottom dollar that once it is up we will have drier, warmer weather.

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

I'm going to have a go at the blog tonight, but I don't know how much will last till the end of the day. I've not got permission oops lol.

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.

Merry Christmas

Simon

Sunday, 20 December 2009

John Bishop and My Noodle

We watched one of our favourite comedians on tv last night, John Bishop. We had seen him quite a few times at various comedy clubs and theatres in Liverpool. He was talking about blokes putting petrol in diesel engines and the panic it causes. Well today we set off to do Christmas shopping in Exeter and going down the very steep hill to the A35 the car started to skid and this set off the anti skid thingy. We had never experienced this before because Liverpool is flat and the roads we used to use tended to be gritted through the night. Si pulled into the local garage to check the car and decided to put some diesel in and also fill the can for the generator. A few times on the way to Exeter the car cut out and I complained about a funny smell. The boys had to push it at once stage when it wouldn't start at a set of traffic lights. We managed to do some of the shopping and were very relieved that we didn't have to call out the rescue service. Coming home we were climbing the same hilly road when we saw that a car had skidded across it and couldn't get a grip at all so Si reversed all the way down and we drove the long way round.

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

Stand Up

Another freezing day here and the alpacas are still not bothered. They have been eating loads of hay then sitting down chewing the cud. How can they bear to sit on this freezing ground? I was so tempted to go and make them get up but they really looked content. The sun has been shining all day but not giving out much warmth. We have put more straw down on the floor of the field shelters but have resorted to bribery to try to get them in there. We have put the hay in the back of them so that they may learn to appreciate getting out of the draughts.

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

Ice, Ice Baby

It started snowing here last night about 8 o'clock but it was only a thin film so the boys were disappointed. I was hoping the really cold weather was going to hold off until the end of January in the hope that the barn would be up for then. I think I am more worried about the alpacas than they are themselves. It doesn't seem to affect them at all, I can't even get them to stay in the field shelters even though we have had a really icy wind blowing all day. Ollie broke the ice on their water troughs this morning then Si had to do it all over again tonight. I must admit the paddock cleaning is a lot easier when the poo is hard, although Ollie reckons it looks worse when it is covered with ice. It's much easier and quicker to pick up than when it is soaked which I am so thankful for as I couldn't wait to get back in to the warm.

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

Ollie is a Genius!!!!!!!!!!!

As you can guess Ollie gave me the title for tonights blog. Si told him that he wouldn't be able to do any fencing on his own but he managed some this afternoon. We are all so desperate to get it done. He did work up a sweat even though the weather was cold, wet and misty, he soon took his waterproofs and fleece off. He was working in just a short sleeved tee shirt again. I can't believe the change in him. He used to insist on a lift or at least a taxi if it rained a bit when we were in Liverpool; there was no way that he was going to get his hair wet.

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

We've Built a Maze

The weather has been dry for the past few days but the ground is still so waterlogged that it is like walking through jelly trying to get to the animals. I've been having terrible problems getting around, not least because gateways have been fenced over now as the whole layout changes. I keep walking into paddocks thinking they are the fastest route to feed the animals to find I have to use the same gateway to get out and walk around the other side. The alpacas just stare at me in frustration as they see the feed buckets getting further and further away from them. A few of them even hummed at me tonight, I think they were trying to give me directions. They all still look healthy but muddy.

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

There's a Bright Golden Haze on the Meadow

There was this really funny bright yellow thing in the sky this morning. Anybody any ideas as to what it was? It was warm too, we're really enjoying this break in the winter weather.

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

It's Raining Outside And I Can't Go Out To Play

I've managed to catch a cold, I don't know how because I haven't had any human contact for about a week now apart from Si and the boys and they haven't got one. The weather has been absolutely dreadful and I thought the rain would never stop. The poor alpacas have been looking really bedraggled but it doesn't seem to have bothered them. I had been watching Chance carefully because she had been looking terribly thin until she turned around; she seems to be carrying her pregnancy all to one side.

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

Is There Anybody Out There?

We've had a really heavy mist today and couldn't see further than the gate. It was as though the rest of the world had dropped off. I had to keep going out to check on the animals as there was no hope of seeing them from the window. They are going through the hay at an amazing rate even though there is still plenty of grass, I'm glad that 14 of our animals are still with MGB.

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

IT'S CHRIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAASSSS!

Until today it felt as though Xmas was still ages away but now we're in a panic. We got our first card and it is so cute with 3 beautiful cria on, and we've had our first snow. In fact, we've had weather today. Snow, rain, hail and sunshine. The rain and hail came down so heavily that Tilly, our bichon frise, got so frightened she ran into the bedroom and hid under the quilt.

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

Birthday Day Out

Yesterday we were out and about by 6am. We defrosted the car and set off for Liverpool to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday. I had sent him flowers as always so that he wouldn't suspect that we would be up there for a surprise party. My little sis was brilliant, she had arranged everything and all we had to do was turn up. We got there in time to help put the food out, my daughter and sis had decorated the pub we were using. I then phoned my Dad to wish him a happy birthday and we discussed the weather down here and I asked him what the weather was like up there etc. He then told me that my sis was going to take him for a drink and then on for a meal with my daughter and eldest son and he was really looking forward to it. Once the room was ready sis went off to collect him and he was so shocked when he walked in and saw all his extended family there and friends that had made a special effort to be there. It was quite emotional. Sis and I held it together until his friends got him up on stage and made a special presentation of a bottle of really old whisky and Dad's eyes then looked a bit watery so Sis and I had to follow suit. It was lovely to catch up with my cousins again and some of us hadn't seen each other for about 12 years which I suppose could be looked on as good news because it means we haven't had to go to any funerals in all that time. I had been in touch with a couple via Facebook. One of my cousins dates a vegan and he makes her such treats as sprout biryani, how's that for a romantic meal? Anyway we have exchanged email addresses so will now stay in touch. Aah, the wonders of the internet, it makes it so easy now.

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.