Friday, 29 April 2011

Heaven Is A Place On Earth

This is the end of a really traumatic day but all's well that ends well.

Those of you that follow this blog will know that we have four girls long overdue to birth and we have been on tenterhooks for weeks.  Every time any of them go to the poo pile we have been really disappointed, thinking this is it and then they just poo.  This morning Si kissed me goodbye because he had to go to the office, he said that maybe Sanctimonious could birth today because she was kushed away from the rest of the herd.  I was standing at the French windows with my coffee watching them when I suddenly realised that Aurora was facing away from me but I could see white, she is a brown fancy with a white chest.  There was a head presented but she had sat down.  I waited and waited and nothing seemed to be happening but I text Si to let him know.  I went across to give everybody their breakfast and Aurora got up and ran over, there was no way she was missing a meal.  She stood eating and the head was no further out but I could see the feet and thought with the next push the sac would burst and things would start to happen.  Once she had finished she just went and sat down again.  Another 20 minutes passed and still nothing so I thought I had better go and intervene but she wouldn't let me anywhere near her.  I went and stood in the barn so that I could watch her but she couldn't see me and still nothing happened and I was really starting to panic.  Si then telephoned because I hadn't text him to let him know what we had had and I had to tell him that absolutely nothing was happening and I may have to phone the vet and suddenly Aurora gave a big push and the baby shot out.  I hung up on Si and went across, the cria was really weak but I had the birth pack with me and I towelled her dry and sprayed her navel.  The placenta was born straight away so I checked that over and realised that the baby had stopped breathing. 

I am so grateful to my alpaca facebook friends from around the world as without all their discussions I wouldn't have known what to do next.  I stayed really calm and massaged her heart at the same time as giving mouth to nose resuscitation and she suddenly shook slightly and started to breath.  I really wanted to phone the vet or Wellground Alpaca Stud for help but didn't have any hands free to call them. Aurora had just walked off showing complete disinterest in her, Aurora's last baby had died with the previous owner and apparently Aurora hadn't been keen on feeding her.  I got a coat on the baby and carried her into the chase thinking that Aurora would follow but she had just gone back to the herd.

 Just before she had stopped breathing

I managed to coax Aurora in with the feed bucket and Bubbles also followed.  The baby was making no attempt to stand after an hour but I did notice that Bubbles was sitting next to her and I thought that might have been putting Aurora off so I then had to get Bubbles back into the paddock at the same time as keeping Aurora with her baby.  I made the area they had smaller and smaller so that Aurora was forced to stay near her baby and I noticed that she then started to hum and kiss her and sniff at her so that was an improvement but the baby still couldn't stand.  I lifted her twice and she stood still the first time for about 2 minutes and then fell down and made no attempt to stand on her own so I did it again and she fell straight away.  I gave her kick start and she got a little livelier but still seemed weak.  Time was getting on by this time and I was about to get the colostrum as almost four hours had passed since she was born and I knew I had a limited time to get it into her.  I decided to have one last attempt and made the pen area even smaller so that Aurora couldn't move far and I held the baby to her.  It worked.  I checked the babies mouth and there it was........milk.  As it had got warmer I took her coat off so that she could dry properly in the sun and absorb some of the rays from the afternoon sun.


The pair of them really got the hang of this feeding game.  She was up and down all afternoon feeding.  Aurora has finally learned how to be patient.


They have bonded so well.  When we lifted the baby at 5pm to feed her we were covered in spit and I have never felt so happy to be covered in the smelly green stuff.  Aurora is now really protective.


We let them back in the paddock this evening and all the aunties came over.  Well, everybody loves that new baby smell.  Eleanor was really happy because the new baby has been running around with her now.  While I was trying to coax her to feed and to stand I kept telling her how heavenly she was so that is her name.  Heaven.

When Si walked into the paddock to see her she ran straight over to him and stood next to his legs.  It's not fair.  If she is going to bond with a human it should be me, I did all the hard work.

So my facebook buddies you helped save a life today and can I introduce you all to Ashdale Heaven.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

After An Exciting Day It's Hard To Stay Awake

Well, they say that no news is good news so that must mean that the overdue pregnant females are all carrying beautiful female cria. I feel like a child waiting for Christmas.

Another glorious day weatherwise but the ground is cracking it is so dry. We will be so grateful when the promised rain arrives on Friday, this means that I can finally scatter the wildflower seeds just inside the entrance to our farm.  I'm hoping to make the area really colourful as soon as people come through the gate. We will be planting more trees there in the Autumn.

Four boys left us today, they have been sold and gone off to pastures new. We are feeling really flattered as we were recommended by two different people and their new owners travelled quite a way to see and then collect them. We gave them preventative treatments and trimmed their nails, with difficulty as they had only been done last month, but we want to make the transition easier for the new owners. They will have their full medical history back to when they were born including every manicure. I love Herd Manager it makes it so easy to be efficient.  We haven't marked them as sold on the website but that can wait until tomorrow now, we have only listed the boys for sale on there as we think prospective purchasers would want to examine the fleeces of the girls that we have for sale before making decisions.

Si has been doing more halter training on two of the younger boys that are also up for sale.

 Biffy showing what a clever boy he is for the camera.

He can also walk in tandem with Timothy.

Si even managed to find time to get the strimmer out and attack the nettles, These longer, light evenings are such a help in getting all the extra little jobs done around the place.

I heard of a really tragic dog attack on alpacas in the US today.  Their owner has written the most beautiful tribute to the animals that she really loved.  The link to it is here.  I defy any alpaca owner to read this without crying.  My heart goes out to her, I couldn't imagine anything more horrifying happening to these gentle animals.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Maybe Tomorrow

We've never had to wait this long for cria before and we don't like it.  The overdue girls have just been sitting round all day soaking up the sunshine, it would seem that we are the only ones getting stressed about the situation.  They are getting through a lot of water with a couple of them hardly moving from their drink containers.

The goats have made sure that we haven't been getting bored and are going through a lot of willow and hawthorn which we are still delivering to them twice a day.  Sweetheart had his head stuck in the fence again and when Si went to rescue him he noticed that there appeared to be something in his eye.  He came back to the house to get some pre-boiled water and cotton buds to try to remove it but at the same time I was delivering a fresh takeaway to them and he decided to free himself from the fence to partake.  By the time Si had returned to do some emergency medical cleansing to his eye whatever had been there had gone.

As well as delivering treats to the goats we have been picking nettles for the pigs, we have been dressing appropriate for the weather in shorts and tee-shirts but his now seems unwise as we are both sitting here covered in nasty red bumps and trying hard not to scratch.  I think we need to cover up more before we collect any more for them.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Born of Frustration

Still no babies.  We're on day 370 for two of the girls and we even resorted to lifting their tails this evening to see if there was any softening but nobody is showing any signs of being near to giving birth, no humming to their cria, which is one of the signs we have come to expect in the last few days.  They aren't even showing any signs of an udder.  They are in full fleece and we have had no rain for a couple of weeks now, we are enjoying the weather but we think the poor alpacas are suffering a bit and we can't put the paddling pool out for them in case they give birth over it and drown the cria.  We have been pouring water on the ground so that they can sit on a cool area but it isn't as much fun for them as splashing themselves.  We are supposed to have a few drops of rain tonight but it hasn't arrived yet and the heatwave is due to carry on for the next few days.

Biffy and Timothy have started their halter training and Biffy took to it straight away, Timothy decided that he he was leading.  It looked as though he was training Si and taking him for a walk.  These two boys have been the easiest to train so far or it may just be that we are more experienced at doing it now.


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Jemima (Mimi) is still confined with Cherrybomb to a small area to try to get some of their weight off, they have taken to sticking their heads through the fencing and eating the grass as far as they can reach.


Ashdale Delilah is loving being in her new paddock with fresh lush grass, along with the other cria from last year.  We are putting her up for sale, she has an excellent pedigree as her dam is Hemiccoyo Cricket of Cambridge and she was sired by EP Cambridge Samson.  Her sire and brother are both Supreme Champions.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

You Build Up Hope

Still no babies, they say a watched pot never boils and this seems to apply to alpacas too.  A couple of times today we had our hopes built up but then they just went back to normal.  Everytime one lifts her tail we think that she is about to give birth, if they roll in their dust bath we think they are having contractions.  We're now thinking that it is some kind of conspiracy, the weather would be perfect to have little ones running around in the paddocks.


Chance is one of our angels.  She has only produced girls for us and the first two have already won prizes for their fleeces, following in her footsteps, last years cria hasn't had hers entered into any shows as yet but it is looking and feeling even better than her older sisters.  Chance has a permanent dent in her fleece around her neck as whichever paddock we put her in she always wants to feed from the next one and she will reach through as far as she can so that the stock wire digs into her fleece.


Temple is Chance's daughter from 2009 and we are looking forward to seeing her cria later in the year.  She still loves to settle next to her mum to sleep at night.

There is still no rain forecast for the foreseeable future and we are in desperate need of it as the resting paddocks have been reseeded in the bare patches.  We will have to resort to watering it ourselves for the next few days from the water butts.  We're not complaining about the sunshine but it would be nice if it rained lightly through the night.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Thorn In My Side

Still no news on the birthing front.  Si actually crawled around the paddock trying to look under the girls to see if there was any sign of an udder on any of them but only Kylie shows any signs and she was only due today.

As the goats have been moved into their new paddock we became aware of a problem, nothing that couldn't be overcome without an added chore for us.  They no longer have access to a hedge and they loved to nibble away at the willow, hawthorn and blackthorn so we now have to cut a few branches every day.  Problem solved.  They no longer have a buffet but have a new home delivery service.


 Cherub enjoying her takeaway

Sweetheart was sulking when we took the second delivery of twigs.  He keeps sticking his head through the fence to get whatever is on the other side of it and he has damaged his ear tags.  Today he ripped his ear slightly so we decided to take his tags out before he hurt himself further.  He fought and moaned whilst we held him down to do it but they are now out and he has blue ears from the terramycin spray.

Penny posing for the camera and My Bonnie decided she had to try and get in shot.  They are really getting used to the camera now.

We did a spit off with Nata today and she has held her pregnancy, it seems strange checking that she is pregnant to produce cria in 2012.  Mimi who is one of the fat bottomed girls was mated to Cooper today, we're not sure that she will conceive as she still looks really overweight but not as bad as Cherrybomb.  Wisden was introduced to Juno today to see if he is ready yet to perform stud duties but even though Juno kept circling him with her tail up he didn't show any interest so we will try him again next month.

We also had another telephone call from a couple who are interested in keeping alpacas and they are due to visit us next weekend.  I'm just hoping that we have more new cria to be able to show them.  There is definitely a lot of interest in alpaca farming out there at the moment.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Fat Bottomed Girls

We have started our own branch of weight watchers here and thankfully we only have two members, Cherrybomb and Mimi.  The vet has checked them both and the conclusion is that because they weren't pregnant they gained weight and because they are overweight it is now going to be difficult to get them pregnant, I think you could call that 'Catch 22'.  They have been put onto limited grazing and will just have to fill themselves up on hay whether they like it or not, neither of them are very happy with the situation but needs must and all that.



We had an early start this morning, mainly to check on the overdue pregnancies, surely those girls can't hold on much longer if the mating dates we were given are correct, but Si alternated between checking out of the window and watching the Grand Prix qualifying rounds on TV.  Once they had finished we set to on the chores and some more farm improvements but had left the telephones inside.  We had been doing some paddock cleaning when we noticed some people at the gate so Si went down to see if anything was wrong.  They had been trying to telephone us to make an appointment to see the alpacas as they are interested in buying a few for their land.  We were more than happy to show this lovely couple around and talk alpaca with them, it gave us a welcome break. They asked if it would be ok to return in the next couple of weeks and we are always happy to have visitors who want to learn more about alpacas.  The wife said she could see what I meant on our website about them being totally addictive.



They were delighted with the way the alpacas hummed softly to each other and Ms Humphreys and Bonnie were more than happy to show how they communicated with each other.  Bonnie is still really active and wants to spend her days playing and charging around, it's as though she doesn't have enough hours in the day to get into all the trouble she wants to create.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Rat Trap

No pictures today and no babies either.  The weather has been absolutely dire so we're quite pleased that nobody gave birth otherwise we would have had to rush them into the barn to keep warm and dry.

'Ben' has been running round in my head all day.  By that I mean the old Michael Jackson song and it is getting really annoying.  We attended a talk on vermin control last night and obviously the main thing that people wanted to know about was how to keep their local rat populations under control.  I have never seen so many different traps but when the guns came out all the men in the room sat up and were mesmerised. 

The pregnant girls who are due to give birth during July and August have been moved from the Cafe Bar, so that we can reseed the bare areas, to Sunset Strip with beautiful lush bright grass.  I tried to make things more interesting by giving the paddocks names because it got confusing when one of us referred to the top paddock when there are actually three up there.  I love the way they get all excited when they are moved to fresh grazing, they run around before deciding where to graze first.  They must all be looking for the one really sweet blade of grass as though they have been handed a box of chocolates and can't decide which one to choose.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Home Sweet Home

Today we have had rain and we are so grateful for this as we have put grass seed in the bald patches in the empty paddocks, fingers crossed that it gets a chance to grow before the birds eat it all.  It has been such a strange time here as Hope, Sanctimonious and Aurora are now well past their due dates and they are really hormonal.  Hope has been trying to mount Aurora who has been spitting with a vengeance.  Eleanor is still desperate for another cria to play with and every time poor Bubbles tries to have a nap she is woken up.  She has even resorted to pronking with Eleanor of an evening, we think this is a ploy to tire her out so that she sleeps longer.  Bubbles isn't due to have her cria until the end of summer but it looked as though she was trying to bounce it out last night,


Cherrybomb is really overweight and has been acting pregnant although she is empty.  We had the vet out to give her Estrumate on last Thursday and she was mated again on Sunday.  She has a fantastic fleece and we really want to see what she can produce in a cria so more fingers are crossed making it extremely difficult to knit.  We have also cut down on her grazing time and she has been put on a diet by keeping her by the barn and only letting her out into the paddock for a couple of hours a day.

Cherub and Sweetheart are enjoying having a new home.  When it rains they act as though somebody is throwing acid at them and run for shelter straight away so today they still had space to play indoors.  I think they should have curtains and fitted carpet but Si reckons he has to finish fitting the windows first.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Hammer Time

Si has been busy building a new home for the pygmy goats, Sweetheart and Cherub.  It all came with instructions on how to put it together, but obviously he had to do that male thing and completely disregard them.  It was all completed and looking great and I was getting excited about getting the goats into their new paddock when he announced that the roof would have to come off again because he had two pieces of wood left over that were part of the roof eaves frame.  Maybe a bit of reading before reaching for the hammer would have been a good idea.


Ashdale Cooper should be looking quite content at the moment as he has been a busy boy and getting plenty of action on the empty females.  We can't wait to see what he produces as he has genetics from EP Cambridge Peruvian Spartacus from his sire EP Cambridge Samson.

 Ashdale Carrie in the foreground with Ashdale Penny Lane making sure that she gets in the picture too.


Ashdale My Bonnie is a right little madam and is showing some of last years cria who is the leader of the pack.  She is great fun to watch of an evening when she tries to get everybody to play with her, if they don't join in with the pronking she just jumps on them until they do.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

We've had an exciting few days.  Sick pigs, good biscuits and visitors.

On Sunday Si went to give the pigs their evening meal when he noticed that Coke, one of our Kune Kune pigs was limping.  He checked her back leg and it appeared to be swollen but he couldn't find any cuts on it so he telephoned for the vet (why do we always need a vet at the weekend?).  He couldn't find a reason for her to have damaged her leg so he had to surmise that it was because the ground was so hard that she had twisted it.  She was administered painkillers and anti-inflammatories by injection and you should have heard her scream, it was absolutely heartbreaking.  Si was told that if she was no better the next day that he could collect some painkillers to give her in her food.  He drove the ten mile round trip into Axminster to collect them but when he tried to give them to her she wouldn't even get up to eat.  We were panicking a bit by then so he phoned the surgery again and was told to go and collect some injectibles so another 10 mile round trip was made.  By the time he got back she had made a remarkable recovery and was walking round again, she has been given the painkillers in her food, Si is cutting little slots in carrots and apples into which he puts the pills for her. 

Rosemary from Westhill Alpacas was supposed to visit on Wednesday but she couldn't make it.  I was having a truly blonde day and I was putting the kettle on for coffee when she phoned.  I got a cup out of the cupboard, put coffee in, poured the water over and then added milk all while were chatting and then realised what I had done.  I told her that I hoped she enjoyed the cup of coffee I had just made for her.  Si had bought some really nice biscuits for her visit which I then had to eat myself.

On Thursday we had a visit from a really nice couple who are interested in alpacas.  We had a good fleece rummage and I had warned them that Si could bore the pants off anyone who asked about bloodlines.  He has spent so much time researching the Australian and New Zealand registries.  They still asked questions.  We chatted about their plans and the work we had done here but we forgot our obligations as alpaca farmers and didn't get the biscuit tin out, we obviously still have so much to learn.  They are probably going to pay us another visit soon.  We had cria due 10 days ago and I really wanted to lay on a birth for them but the alpacas were having none of it and we are still waiting now.  Hope is humming quite a bit so I am hoping that she is telling her cria it is time to get out.

Eleanor Rigby is growing fast and could really do with a playmate in her paddock to run around with of an evening.  She seems really lonely pronking on her own and loves attention.

Si has almost finished the new goat paddock, then he has a new shed to build for them.