Sunday, 12 February 2012

Yes, Les. It has happened to me.

Todays title is directed at Les from Wellground Alpaca Stud.  She said that I was in danger of turning into mad chicken woman and it has really happened.  I don't feel bad about it though as I realise that most of our customers feel the same.  I get sent photographs from customers showing me our girls in their new homes and yesterday a lady was kissing and stroking her new birds before they went into their box for the journey.  There is no doubt that those pekins are going to be spoilt.  She didn't laugh when I said that I give the chickens Ready Brek made with water during the cold weather to keep them warm.  Her husband did, but that was only because she does the same. 

It's not so bad with alpacas as we give ongoing support to anybody who buys from us so we get to see them on a regular basis.  Actually what I am trying to do here is prepare myself for putting these two cute boys up for sale, Condor and Piper are great friends and I would really like them to stay together.  They will be up on our website tomorrow when I update the sales list.  They are both halter trained and walk quite happily side by side.


Ashdale Condor



Ashdale Piper

We have been topping up the alpacas with alfalfa mixed with their concentrate during the cold weather but we had two of this years babies refusing to eat hard feed.  One of ours, Bonnie, and one belonging to a client.  I got advice from Rosemary of Westhill Alpacas and it worked on the little boy that doesn't belong to us but Bonnie stubbornly refused to give in and I was getting really worried about her as there isn't much nourishment in the grass at this time of year. They are getting fed twice a day in the barn and she would just stand there while all the others tucked in.  We resorted to holding the two refuseniks back when we let all of the others out in the hope that they would eat once they were hungry.  Bonnie would just stand there looking at us but the little boy got his first taste of alfalfa and was addicted.  He now gets as aggressive as a baby can when the food is put out and is first with his nose in the feeder.  Bonnie finally gave in this morning eating so daintily, it seemed to take an age but the alpaca crack got her too and this evening she couldn't wait for their dinner to be put out.  I now have two babies pushing the bigger animals out of the way to get to the troughs. 



Friday, 3 February 2012

Never work with children or animals

We're suffering from the big freeze here but as it has only just hit us and should be over by the weekend we can't complain too much.  We have been having such fun lately.  On Saturday we had visitors that we had looked forward to meeting for quite some time.  A lovely couple who have had previous experience with alpacas and want to build a new herd.  Really looking forward to their repeat visits.  They came over at pretty short notice as the weather had been so wet that we were all checking that there wouldn't be any rain.  Si and I still looked as though we had been having a mud fest and the alpacas had joined in but it stayed dry while they were here although there was still a chilly wind.  It was good enough that we could walk around the paddocks and show off the alpacas. 

Paddock cleaning is now hard work as the poo is frozen to the ground and we have to hit it to loosen it first.  We must look quite a sight bashing the ground as we walk around.  Still, we can still look on the bright side and think that the paddocks are being disinfected while we sleep.

The chicken side of the business is going from strength to strength with chicks in brooders, eggs in incubators but it was probably a mistake to put a breeding trio under the bedroom window.  The silkie cockerel does like the sound of his own voice before first light and for such a little fluffy bundle of cuteness he has a really loud mating call.  Chicken kiev anybody?  No?  Ok, I suppose I can just move them.

Country Smallholding had been in touch too.  They wanted to know if they could send a photographer to take some shots of chickens for their mag.  This morning he arrived and he wanted chickens on their own, with pigs, with goats and then some with alpacas.  We resorted to bribery and scattered corn for the chickens but the pigs just kept showing their backsides and we were dashing around them but trying to avoid shadows from the barn and fencing.  That's the problem with this time of year, the sun is so low in the sky that it creates long shadows. 

The photographer was particularly taken with the sebright cockerel but trying to keep him on his own was nigh on impossible. The man has the patience of a saint and it was a fun distraction from chores for us.   

We then all walked around so he could take some close up shots of the alpacas.  Heaven was true to form and ran over as soon as she saw the camera, it didn't matter that there was a stranger behind it.  Whichever weaning he tried to get in shot Heaven was always in the way.



Having fun had to be paid for so the afternoon was spent cleaning out all of the hen houses and putting in fresh wood shaving topped with lots of straw. That should keep all the chickens warm of a night.

The other day one of the hens had laid an egg on the ground and Tilly had picked it up thinking that it was a ball.  She walked around with it in her mouth for about half an hour, occasionally putting it down and kicking it to make it roll.  She then picked it up with a bit too much enthusiasm and broke it, well, she has now discovered what an egg is and loved it.  Today the hens were all out free ranging but Tilly then started barking from one of the hen houses. She never troubles the hens and they play quite happily around her so I went to investigate.  She was barking because a hen had laid an egg in one of the nesting boxes and she wanted it but couldn't reach.