Our Website: www.ashdalealpacas.com

Wednesday 29 December 2010

And I Feel Like I'm Clinging To A Cloud

No photographs today as it has been so misty here since the snow cleared, hence the title.

We knew the temperatures had risen on Boxing Day as the alpacas ventured out of the barn, this also meant that we had running water for the first time in over a week.  It was such a relief.  On Monday it was raining which cleared the last of the snow away and it was lovely to see the animals grazing again, it's just a pity that we haven't been able to see them through the mist for the past two days.  It did mean that the work load had lightened a little as we didn't have to keep up a constant supply of warm water and we could cut out the lunch time feed.  The biggest problem we had was that the paddocks looked dreadful and we had a weeks cleaning to do.

Si had been looking forward to having four days off over Xmas to get some of the jobs done around here but because of the weather his time was taken up with defrosting the tap to fill up all the water containers again.  He did manage to get another isolation paddock fenced.

We also had a visit from Rosemary, Carl and Sam from Westhill Alpacas.  Rosemary always makes me laugh.  If I say I can't do something she always tells me that I can, she has more faith in me than I do.  She decided that I could crochet, I told her I couldn't. I knew how to make a chain and that was about it.  People have always told me that it is much easier than knitting so I decided to put it to the test.  I put down my knitting at 11pm last night and by 11.30 I had made a chrysanthemum.  That's right.  You didn't misread it.  I made an orange chrysanthemum.  It looks just like the picture in the book too. Just don't tell Rosemary or she will decide I can crochet coats, dresses and all manner of things and I really want to tackle a carnation next. 

The log burner is proving to be a roaring success.  It doesn't just heat the room, it heats the whole home.  We have been sitting here of an evening with all the doors open wearing summer clothes.  The dog can't cope.  She has got so used to the cold temperatures in here the past two winters that the heat is making her sulk.  She won't stay in the same room as us and is constantly trying to find somewhere cool.  She has even taken to sleeping on the floor, throwing herself down with a huge sigh, just like a sulky teenage girl; I'm waiting for her to start saying 'Whatever'.  Normally only the sofa is good enough and she needs an extra cushion too.  It has even been too hot for us to sleep when it has gone out.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Living In A Box .....................

............... of Xmas Cards.  It's very picturesque here but extremely hard work at the moment.

We still have no running water and Si is having to go and defrost the tap at the top of our land when the temperatures get up to 0C which is about the warmest we have experienced for the past week.  He is carrying down containers full of water which we are warming before we give it to the animals.  The only problem is that because they are only eating dried feed and hay they are thirsty all the time.  I didn't help matters yesterday when I fell over when entering the barn.  I fell over a hurdle which ended up flat on the ground with me on top of it.  A full container of warm water flew out of my hands and all over the floor.  I was more upset about the waste of water which then froze overnight into a solid sheet of ice.  I ended up with imprints of the hurdle on my legs.  I was even too sore to knit last night.

Looking on the bright side, doesn't the snow make everything look tidy?

The sight of the barn roof amused us.  It is obvious which side of the barn the animals sleep on.  They must be warm in there because they have managed to melt the snow over their sleeping area just from their body heat.  Today I was worried about Exhibition, she is our beautiful cria from Larralluh, sired by Wellground Close Encounter.  The other cria have started to eat Alfalfa, even searching the ground for any bits that have been knocked out of the feeders.  Exhibition hasn't been eating any although she is eating hay constantly and we haven't really seen her feeding from her mum.  I thought she was a bit on the thin side compared to the other cria so a call to Head Office was made.  We had checked Larra and there is no sign of mastitis but we were worried that her milk may have dried up, Les recommended goats milk and even told us which brand she uses if she has to bottle feed any cria.  Poor Si drove into Axminster to try to find it and then sent me a text to say that he couldn't find it so I recommended another store and he found it there, it had to be the exact brand.  We haven't done any Xmas shopping yet,  apart from carrots for the alpacas.  Oh no, I lie.  My daughter did some shopping in Liverpool for me yesterday.  She shopped for me while we spoke on the phone, she described items for me and once I had agreed she took them home, photographed them and put them up on facebook for my approval.  That's the way to do it.  If I didn't like anything she was going to change them for me today. 

These are now my 'Ladies who lunch'.  They only come out to be fed and obviously 'The Humph' is first in the queue.  She goes to the first feeder inside the paddock and stands and moans until the food is put in front of her.

I tried to get a shot of both of the goats in the barn.  Sweetheart stood still for me but Cherub was more interested in trying to eat my jacket.  They are staying nice and snug in the barn too.  We bought a new shed for them and have had the posts put in for their new paddock but all our time has been taken up with breaking ice, defrosting pipes and carrying water that no improvements have been done.  It looks as though we are in for a bit of a heatwave next week though with temperatures forecast up to 10C.  We won't know ourselves.  I might be able to cast off some of the layers, we will have running water, the snow will melt and we will be able to see grass.  I'm just hoping the girls will still realise what it is because it is costing a fortune in hay.

Today I have learnt that I shouldn't open my emails whilst drinking a cup of tea.  tt was hilarious.  The culprit knows who he is.

Friday 17 December 2010

The Fool On The Hill

Today we have had weather.  We woke to a light covering of snow along with mist.  then we had rain which turned into another snow storm along with high winds.  This afternoon the sun came out and then we had more snow.  The Australian girls have taken to living in the barn although they have free access to their paddock but as they have now trained the human in the hat to do room service to their liking they have decided they only have to venture out when it is time for their hard feed.  I flatly refuse to unscrew their feeders and put them up in the barn. 

I started the day by delivering warm water to all the alpacas and they really enjoy this as they are going through so much of it.  I am having to give them gallons of it during the day.  Luckily, Si fitted the log burner yesterday so we are warm too.  I have been using the top of it to heat up pans of water through the day.

The Peruvian girls ventured out as far as the field shelter but they don't have to go outdoors for the rest of the day as their hay is all in there and they are getting through an awful lot of it.  You can just see Nata's backend sticking out.

Cherrybomb actually lifted her head up while I was in the barn with them to enable me to get a quick shot of her.

The other girls don't think I'm worth bothering about if I don't have a bucket in my hand.  All I could hear was nom, nom, nom and the occasional hum so they seem happy enough.

We did have a bit of a mishap which entailed calling out the vet.  I found Halo standing with her nose against a fence post oblivious to everything and she was still there half an hour later.  Larra was in the barn shaking and actually let me go up and stroke her.  Something wrong here, I thought and quickly phoned the vet.  I covered Larra with a towel to keep her warm because she must be cold.  The vet examined Larra and said that he couldn't find anything wrong with her and that all the alpacas looked really well.  He even congratulated me on how healthy they all looked.  Halo seemed fine too.  The next day 3 of them were scouring so we called the vet out again. I was worried that they weren't getting enough goodness so was making a mix of alfafa and oats.  They get camelibra for breakfast and dinner but I thought they would feel warmer if they had lunch too.  I had been mixing it in a bucket with hot water, but preparing it the night before and then just topping it up with more hot water before I went out with it.  I had mentioned to Si that it smelt of beer when I was stirring it.  Oops, it had been fermenting in the bucket overnight.  They loved it.
It would appear that Halo was stoned.  Larra had the DT's and the others were just suffering from the morning after the night before.  They now get fed it dry and I warm the water in their buckets.  They were all fine the day after I stopped soaking it.

Rosie is still pregnant.  Day 425 and Alpaca Manager is almost ready to go into meltdown. 

I have now started to knit for Xmas 2011.  Carl Aylett deserves Salesman of the Year Award.  Rosemary came to visit last week and collected a load of knitting that I had done.  She then emailed with more orders so I rushed through those and got them in the post to her. This is all along with the knitting that Rosemary and 'The Lady in the Village' have done.  I finally saw some of the items that 'The Lady in the Village' had made from our yarn and they are absolutely beautiful.   I had got Si to set up our online shop and he took photo's one night ready to upload but Rosemary had emailed ordering the stock for customers that Carl had got.  They didn't get on there.  I have now knitted another item for him to get a snap of so we can actually get it up and running.  It's brilliant that everybody loves the alpaca items, the fibre does feel a lot softer and warmer than anything else you can buy.

Friday 10 December 2010

I'm still waiting

Ms Humphrey's staring at Cherrybomb trying to ge her to move from prime position.

The girls are now sleeping in the barn every night.  We don't have doors on but it is still warm and cozy inside.  I was speaking to Head Office (Wellground Alpaca Stud) and they may have a dancing alpaca but I am claiming that my girls are housetrained.  They go outside to poo so it saves me having to muck out the barn every morning which is just as well because for the past week it has been a full time job keeping them supplied with hay and water.  We have even been bringing some of the water troughs into the sitting room of an evening so that I have water to give them first thing and then just keep topping them up with warm water during the day.

Rosie is STILL pregnant.  423 days, but whose counting.  We have had the vet out again and everything still seems fine and I am glad that the cria is warm and safe during the dreadful weather we have had.  I have been warned that it could be a difficult birth with being so late but Matty is still reluctant to induce yet.  We may have another scan done later this week if there is still nothing happening.  It has been no fun crawling round on the ice and snow trying to see if there is an udder or looking under her tail.

It has looked magical here with the heavy frost covering the branches on the trees and the but it keeps us too busy to enjoy looking at it.  We only had snow for a couple of days but the frost also stopped the poor animals getting to the grass.

Today has felt tropical in comparison and an even brighter note to my day was a visit from Rosemary, from Westhill Alpacas.  We have been choosing the best fleeces from both of our herds and combining them to have them processed together producing an elite spun product which we are busy knitting.  We are waiting for our next shade to arrive back from the mill to add to the light grey and cream we already have.

I was just about to cast off a scarf the other evening when Rosemary emailed to say that she had an order for an extra long scarf.  Sorted.  I just carried on knitting and thought I was never getting to the end of it.  It was finally finished last night for Rosemary to collect today.  It was only after she had left with a selection of gloves, hats and scarves that I realised that although we had drank a couple of cups of coffee I had forgotten to get the biscuit tin out.  Honestly, call myself an alpaca farmer?  That is lesson number one.  Always get out a tin of biscuits when you have visitors. 

We did manage to get around and have a look at the girls and this years cria.  The problem is that the bio-security we have in operation is difficult at the moment.  The disinfectant foot baths we have at every paddock gate are still frozen and Rosemary could only get her foot in about an inch.  We both managed to have a bit of a moan about how difficult it has been doing the paddock cleaning when the poo is frozen to the ground.

I got a brilliant idea while we had the freezing days and got Si to bag up the poo to put against the water pipes that are above ground to prevent them freezing.  The next day I was expecting running water but he came back from the tap to tell me that they had still frozen and so had the three bags of poo.  Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Friday 5 November 2010

The Waiting Game

I haven't blogged because I thought I would wait until we had the last two cria on the ground but we are on day 388 and still no sign.  We called our vet out earlier in the week to scan the pregnant girls as they were both still spitting off and looked pregnant but we had decided that they couldn't possibly be any longer, but in the case of Rosie we were wrong.  JJ (our vet) found a cria with a strong heartbeat but also said that it didn't look as though she was ready to birth within the next week so I am still on cria watch.  It had better be a pink one after waiting this long.  I actually thought that I had put the mating date in the computer incorrectly so telephoned the owner of the stud we had mated her to and double checked the date.  She is obviously going for some kind of a record.  We had a long discussion about conception in alpacas and about how it is still a bit of a mystery as to how long after mating conception occurs but I was more fascinated about how long sperm could stay alive.  I know it has been a strange year for alpaca pregnancies but this is really getting ridiculous now.

We have been enjoying this years crop of cria though, their fleeces look fantastic and we have already started to plan who to breed them to in the future.  We let them out of their paddock during the day so that they can free range, well, they say a change is as good as a rest. 

Delilah, whose sire is Samson who resides at Wellground Alpaca Stud and her dam is Hemiccoyo Cricket.  Her background includes Ruffo and Hemmingway and doesn't she know it? 

Penny Lane lying down in the foreground and Exhibition is trying to coax her to play.  Carrie is almost hidden in the background but the three of them love pronking and charging around together all day.

Tilly helps with the chores during the day so the alpacas are used to her.  They just think she's an alpaca whose legs have been chopped off.  Cherrybomb still looking pregnant but is actually empty.  I was really looking forward to seeing what she produced.

Penny Lane is Wellground Juno's 2010 production.  I know we shouldn't have favourites but she is a delight.  She is full of mischief and if she wants the dustbath when another girl is in it she will bite their ears until they move.  As soon as she sees Tilly she comes across to kiss her.

Carrie is proof that you can use 'Alpaca Royalty' bloodlines but you still can't make them behave like ladies.  She takes great delight in rolling in the poo pile and it then takes ages to catch her to pick it off.

Si has been building the walls to the barn and it is now a mad rush to get it finished before the weather gets really bad, especially now that we are having a really late birth. I must admit he has been doing amazingly well for an accountant, even if it is slow going but there are so many other things to be done, like spit offs, toe nail trimming and stocking up the animal's hay. 

The weather has been absolutely glorious for November and we have been working outside without coats on as it has been so warm, but I think that is about to change over the next week or so and the grass may stop growing.  We have been lucky in that respect as the alpacas have not been eating so much hay. 

Sunday 19 September 2010

Winner Takes It All

Ok, maybe not all but a lot more than we were hoping for.  Yesterday was the inaugural GWR Fleece Show and we couldn't attend because we are still waiting for Cherrybomb to produce her first cria and she seems to be in no hurry.  We had entered fleeces but didn't get our hopes up as we knew that they were going to be up against some top quality animals and the judge was to be Dominic Lane who must have seen some of the best fleeces produced in the world.  In the middle of the afternoon my phone rang and it was Rosemary from Westhill Alpacas who was helping to run the show and she just had a quick few seconds to tell me that we had got a 1st and a place but she didn't know which classes and had to get off the phone to get back to collecting fleeces for Dominic to judge.  We were over the moon as that was much more than we were expecting.

We had even better news in the evening when Rosemary phoned again once she got home.  We had actually got a 1st, a 2nd plus two 5ths and a highly commended.  The highly commended was for Cherrybomb's fleece and what completely amazed me was that she said that Dominic had mentioned Cherrybomb had had a nutrition problem at some time in the year.  He was absolutely right.  During the really bad weather this winter I had noticed that she wasn't feeding at the troughs with the other girls and it took some coaxing to get her to feed.  She now insists on being fed by hand.  We are particularly pleased because we have got prizes for animals that we have bred ourselves so it proves that we are heading in the right direction.

You can now see picture of our multi prize winning herd.  It feels so good to type that.

 Penny will rest her head anywhere, here it is resting on Carrie's back

 Five of this year's cria with a couple of their prizewinning mothers

Penny again, she's not old enough to eat hay yet so has taken to wearing it instead and Exhibition is quite happy to eat it off her.

Thursday 16 September 2010

It's Neat and it's Sweet

It's been a really enjoyable time here with all the new babies running around and with still two to arrive it's a nervous time. 

Asparagus Now has barely stopped running since hitting the ground.

We're (I'm) confined to barracks at the moment watching the pregnant girls but they don't really seem to be in any hurry.  I have been spending the time knitting frantically hence the title of this blog.  Only avid Muppets fans will recognise it as being from The Doozer Knitting Song but that line seemed appropriate for a pic of Asparagus Now.

We had a stall at a show a few weeks ago and sales of joint Westhill Alpacas and our own products sold so well that Rosemary and I have been knitting frantically to replenish stocks for the next show in three weeks time, we actually got down to only one pair of gloves left.  It's good that people are keen to snap up alpaca products recognising the quality of the yarn, there have been so many compliments on our knitwear.  Rosemary has also suggested roping in her mum and mother-in-law and Si needs to watch out or I will be teaching him to knit too , but I'm not sure I have the patience or time.

The fleeces have all been prepared for the GWR Show and delivered.  I was only allowed to help skirt the first fleece and then Si told me to get back to the knitting or we would only have a handful of fleece left.  I think the fact that I was trying to pick every small piece of hay out with a pair of tweezers got on his nerves a bit. I did try not to interfere but couldn't resist walking past a few times and just picking out a few pieces that he seemed to have missed.  I'm disappointed that we may not be able to attend the GWR Show because of waiting for the safe delivery of the next cria.

Another highlight of the day was a visit from MGB from M and M Alpacas.  They brought Hallmark and Ebony across for dates with Neema and Halo. They also had a fleece check of the new cria and reckon we have four really good females so far.  It seems ages since we have seen them and we had loads to catch up on but at least winter will give us more freedom to visit each other,  unless we get another one like last year when just breaking the ice on the water troughs seemed like a full time job.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

In My Ears and In My Eyes

We've had so many problems trying to blog this past week, we've scanned the computer for viruses, cleaned up the hard-drive and finally we have been able to upload pics.

First we have Asparagus Now, named after one of our favourite young bands in Liverpool.  He was born last Tuesday.  Si had checked all the girls when he fed them and a couple of hours later I was washing up in the kitchen when I looked out of the window and saw a cria charging round the paddock.  We ran straight over, by the time we got over there he was at the milk bar.  He is the fastest cria we have ever had, even Si had difficulty catching him to spray his navel.  We're assuming he hadn't been out long as the placenta hadn't been passed.  He's doing really well but it was a shock as he wasn't due until the 18th of this month.

 Asparagus Now

 Penny Lane

Cherrybomb welcoming Penny into the world

I got up at first light this morning to check the remaining pregnant girls and nothing seemed to be happening so I went back to bed for a couple of hours.  We got up again at 8 and Si went through to make coffee while I made the bed.  I looked out of the bedroom window and thought I counted an extra cria in the paddock so dashed through to the living room to get a better look.  Si said that I had miscounted and sure enough he was right.  I was drinking my coffee and watching through the window while Si went out to feed all the animals and the next thing I knew my mobile was ringing, it was Si.  I had been right, there was an extra cria in the paddock, it was just that her mother was in front of it when viewed from the living room.  She is a few days early and really small but perfectly formed.  She seemed cold and was shaking so we put a coat on her once we had towelled her dry.  We had to move the other alpacas out of the paddock to give her some time alone with her mum, even all the cria were trying to get her up before she was ready.  She is still slightly wobbly on her legs this evening but has been trying to have a play with the other cria.

I'm hoping Cherrybomb will have her cria tomorrow as it looks as though it has dropped today and she is bulging a bit at the back.  She's also really fed up and keeps turning her back on me as though it's my fault she feels so bad.

Note to Rosemary - the title is from Penny Lane by The Beatles

Saturday 28 August 2010

Why does it always rain on me?

Not a lot has been happening for the past couple of weeks, it's been either too misty or too wet to take any photographs but at least the grass has started to grow again, also OD and her boyfriend have been staying for the past week so we've been sitting chatting and playing computer games of an evening.  Laura can't believe how much it rains down here as everytime she comes down it pours the whole time.  She reads the blog when we're practically begging for rain and typically the weather forecast now shows that now she has gone back to Liverpool there is no rain for the next week.

 Exhibition showing her best side

Temple looking as though she has a piece of hay stuck up her nose

We've just been enjoying watching the babies when it has been clear enough and waiting for the next lot of cria due later in September.  Yesterday when I was doing the evening feeds I noticed that Cherrybomb looked slightly red in one of her eyes, she has been prone to eye infections, so bathed it with cold tea.  This morning it had clouded over so we telephoned for the vet and luckily it is only another infection, I must admit that I thought it looked like a cataract, our vet gave her an injection straight into her eyelid of antibiotic while I chickened out and looked the other way.  We now have to put in Orbenin for the next couple of days. 

We spent the afternoon disinfecting water buckets and feeders then doing some pedicures on the alpacas.  It will be the goats turn tomorrow.  It does seem that the white alpacas have faster growing nails than the darker colours.

Monday 16 August 2010

Chewing On A Piece Of Grass

We've had a really busy few days again.  Si has been doing more groundwork on his time off and on Saturday we attended a show with Carl and Sam from Westhill Alpacas.  It was a really enjoyable day and Rosemary's knitwear was admired by a lot of people and we sold quite a few pieces along with balls of wool.

Exhibition copying her mum, Larraluh

The cria have now learnt to pronk properly and it is lovely to watch their dancing of an evening when they are supposed to be settling down for the night.

Today has been spent doing spit offs and another mating with Cooper, this time with Larraluh. Cooper took so long this time that I think that Larra was mentally decorating the paddock.  Unfortunately, Halo went down next to the pen where the mating was taking place so it looks as though she is now open but it could just be her being hormonal.  She was actually due to give birth next month and we were really looking forward to seeing what she would produce as it would have been her first cria.  She still looks pregnant but that may well be wishful thinking on our part so we will just have to wait and see.  All the  girls that Cooper has mated with have spat off though and now that we have our own top quality stud working it isn't such a tragedy for the future years as it will be easy to just put him back to the female.  Next year we are hoping that we have another stud male working with completely different bloodlines.

Monday 9 August 2010

Reach For The Stars

Exhibition's ears are really improving now and are straightening out without any intervention.  They still bounce a bit when she runs but most of the time they are pointing upwards.  We did want to check her teeth but we couldn't catch her as she was having so much fun with Delilah, Timothy and Carrie. 

Si did the paddock cleaning this morning while I caught up on some paperwork.  MY alpacas don't sleep at night they just stand there pooing.  We then did some spit-offs on the girls that Cooper had mated.  HIS alpaca is brilliant as they all spat off.  We then let him mate Chance, it was really a few days earlier than we would have liked but she kept kushing next to the fence nearest to him so we thought we should maybe take our lead from her.  Oh Boy, he's noisy.  It must have sounded as though we were trying to kill an alpaca. 

Neema is due to give birth later this month but I'm not so sure that she has held her pregnancy.  We tried ballottement on her and couldn't detect anything but that may be down to inexperience.  She had been scanned as pregnant earlier this year but it looks as though it could be a late absorption but we have heard of other people this year who have thought their animals weren't pregnant and then they gave birth so we are still watching her closely, just in case. 

Thursday 5 August 2010

Super Furry Animals

We managed a day out today.  This meant that we had to dash around doing the morning chores first, then get changed.  I got to the car and then remembered I had left the camera on the table.  I ran back in to grab it as we were going over to Rosemary's and I wanted a few shots of her new cria.  We had to go to Sherbourne first to pick up a new floor kit for the horse box as we couldn't get one locally.  We managed to get lost on the way but this is about par for the course. 

As soon as we met up we started chatting and making plans for the future, in fact Si reckons we didn't stop all the time we were there.  He left us to it for a while and talked about computer games with Sam.  After coffee we went across the road to meet a few old friends along with the new cria.  Rosemary has the most cuddly, cutest alpacas in the whole wide world.  As soon as we went into the paddock, Rosemary armed with a bottle for Greeves, Greeves came over obviously expecting to be fed.  We took the opportunity to have a good look at him and we were impressed with the quality, it looks as though they could have a future herdsire there.  I was so happy to meet up with her girls again and a few of them came straight over for a kiss.  When we went into the next paddock Bert came over, she loves to be stroked and fussed over and once she had the three of us paying her the attention she thought she deserved she sat down so we all got on the ground to make it easier to stroke her.  The only problem was once we walked away to go and have a look at the boys she attempted to follow us for more attention.  We were so enamoured of all this alpaca attention we forgot to take the camera out of my bag but Sam was standing by with a very impressive camera round his neck which he pointed to us on occasion so I am sure they have put the photos on their blog http://www.westhillalpacas.blogspot.com/ you will have to click on the link to see them.

We went back to the house to compare knitwear and plan what we were going to make next and I stood admiring the views from Ibberton Hill while drinking another coffee.  I don't know where the time went because it was soon time for Rosemary to take another bottle to Greeves.  We had to leave to get back to our own animals as we wanted to do some more preventative treatments and the never ending paddock cleaning.  A day well spent and the best thing of all, Rosemary gave me a list.

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

This morning we woke up to the promised and much missed rain.  We are promised more for later in the week so hopefully this will kick start the grass into growing again.

I think the cria have been planning to scare us and this morning they seemed to be taking it in turns to pretend to be dead and I kept getting soaked going out to check on them.

Exhibition's ears are continuing to improve but everytime I pointed the camera in her direction she tucked her head back under Larra to feed.  She should soon catch up with the others in her weight gain.

 Exhibition and Larra


Carrie (she won't pose for the camera either, she just wants to see what it is)

We had to put some antibiotic drops into Cherrybombs eyes tonight as she has developed a discharge in both of them and also putting some fly cream on her top knot to deter them from settling on her eyes.

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Boys Will Be Boys

We've been spending a lot of time just watching and getting to know our new babies so that we can tell if there is anything wrong with them (well that's the excuse we're using).  I was messing around with the camera and filming Exhibition just for fun, it wasn't going to go on here but we thought it was really funny that the boys in the next paddock were obviously feeling left out and decided to run across in the background.  It reminded us of the news reports when some idiot decides to play up behind the reporter.  Timothy also had to get in on the action.

We've been working really hard today, working on the rest of the layout to include a new area for the pigs and a paddock for the goats.  Si has been laying pipes in the trenches which Ollie and I are supposed to fill in tomorrow while he is away doing hard sums.

We checked out the new cria and are really pleased with the quality of them.  We can definitely see that we are improving year on year.  Poor Delilah had her first injection of Lambivac today and I had to hold her while Si stabbed the needle in.  It's always a good excuse for a cuddle and I love rubbing my face into her neck, the softness is incredible but Si thinks that the crimp is the most important point.

He then dragged me away from my babies to give the boys some preventative treatments.  They aren't as cuddly but they behaved well which was a change for them. 

We are now in desperate need of some rain as the paddocks are really starting to look yellow and are getting bare now; it doesn't seem that long ago that we were wanting it to dry up.  We have loads of vegetables planted and I had forgotten to water them this evening so had to dash out at 11 tonight to give them a good soaking and then water all the tubs with flowers in the dark.  I was actually sorry that I had planted them all in the spring.  I was feeling really fed up with myself tonight though as I had decided to pull out some nettles that had grown around the field shelters, not the best idea when you are only wearing a t-shirt and shorts.  I have arms and legs that are driving me wild with a delightful itchy red rash.

Monday 2 August 2010

Prick Up Your Ears

We've had another busy day watching the babies.  Exhibition's ears are actually starting to improve slightly although it will probably take a few weeks to correct completely. We are sure that the other two girls are fawn now because Exhibition is such a dazzling white next to them.  Poor Delilah seems to be plagued by flies around her face so I rubbed fly cream into her top knot to see if that would help.  I don't know what it is about Chance and her daughters that the flies love so much but they seem to attract a lot more than the others.

Cooper obviously enjoyed his first mating yesterday and while we were trying to get Cricket into the catch pen to try with him today he actually leapt over the 4ft fence into the next paddock in an attempt to get to the empty girls. I said to Si that although he is getting down to business we won't know if he is actually working properly until we get the first spit-off.  Si pointed out that Cooper seems perfectly willing to put in the hours though.  It is amazing the change in him the past few days, he has gone from being a little wimp wanting to play with the babies to being quite masterful.  He pushed Cricket to the ground and jumped straight on and the noise out of him was horrendous. 

Saturday 31 July 2010

Getting Down and Dirty

We've really had a fantastic week.

Two beautiful cria, both of them girls and finally Cooper has decided he's really grown up now.  Until yesterday all he's wanted to do is play with the babies through the fence but we noticed that he had started to take an interest in the empty females that we had kept putting next to him to see if he would make any attempt to get at them.  Last night we realised that he had started to show an interest in Cricket and she sat down next to him with just a fence between them and he looked as though he wanted to vault over.  Today we put him with Mimi and he just shoved her down to the ground and mounted her.  I did think that because it was his first time it would be all over in 5 minutes and he would then light a cigarette or something but no, he seemed to carry on for ever.  I got bored after 30 minutes and went to clean the paddocks but Si sat there with the camera like a proud father.

I am more interested in the results of the matings.  I love having the cria running around, it really is what this business is all about.  We had a really good look at Exhibition today and are really pleased with her fleece and can't wait for the opinion of Carl, our shearer.  He is much more experienced than us at checking out the fleeces having seen a lot more of them.  Even though Exhibition looks as though she is probably premature because of the lack of teeth and her floppy ears she has been running around nearly all day, in fact even when the other babies had settled down for the night she was still charging round the paddock.  She really is hilarious with her ears bouncing up and down.  Timothy can't keep up with her but he isn't the most elegant of alpacas, he really is only pet quality but he has a lovely nature.  I said to Si today that he looks like a mix of Alan Carr and Giant Haystacks he is really careless and keeps running into the sides of the adult girls.  He gets up such a speed but just doesn't seem able to stop.

Oh, I almost forgot, because we have no births due until the end of the month I was allowed past the farm gate.  Nothing too exciting but I got to Mole Valley today for animal feed and more gates but at least it was a change.  I was only allowed out for a couple of hours but come October I can go out whenever I want.

Friday 30 July 2010


 Well, it's been a day. 

Larra had been checked at around 5am and then I went back to bed.  Si woke me up again around 7am to say that nothing was happening and he was about to leave for the office.  I got straight out of bed, just in case, I wasn't going to get caught out again.  I looked straight out of the window at Larra and her tail was up and she looked as though she was straining but she was nowhere near the poo pile.  I thought I'd make a cup of coffee and keep watching.  I had had a couple of sips and nothing much was happening but there was something sticking out of her rear end and I thought I'd better go and have a closer look.  I walked around to the paddock all the while watching this balloon sticking out of her.  Once I was in with her she came straight towards me humming, which was really unusual for Larra, she normally acts as though she knows she is an elite alpaca and we are mere humans put here to give her pedicures and clean up the poo.  There was just a head showing within this balloon with no movement at all.  I thought I was going to have to cope with a stillbirth which was particularly poignant as she had given birth prematurely, at night last year in a storm and the cria had  died even though our vet worked on it for almost 2 hours.  Poor Larra mourned her baby for over a week.  Anyway, I decided that she was obviously asking for help so I had to do something no matter how scared I felt.  I burst the bag and did a bit of tweeking of the feet and they soon appeared.  I was so relieved as the cria then spluttered and sneezed and more of the legs appeared.  I then stood back to leave her to it.

Larra obviously thought that this would be good time to take a break after this and sat down so I decided to go and finish my coffee while she had a rest.  I stared out of the window watching her and she was having such strong contractions that I could see her whole body clench.  I was actually holding my breath during each one then urging her to stand up to let gravity help.  It was only when Ollie told me that she couldn't hear me through the window that I realised I had been telling her to push during each contraction.

As soon as the cria had hit the ground I ran over again with a towel and teramycin but I was still shaking so much that I sprayed the grass and its front leg.  Ollie had to take over and told me that I had missed the navel completely.  Larra is so pleased with her new baby that she has been sniffing and kissing it all day, it has been really lovely to watch.  Once again I forgot to check the sex of the cria and had to go back to lift its tail to check.  Another girl.  Her ears are floppy and she has no teeth yet which are pointers of a premature birth which is a bit strange as it is 347 days since Larra was mated.
I got Si to phone Rob at Wellground Alpaca Stud this evening just to check that it was ok to leave its ears because the only advice I could find on t'internet was to tie tampons to them to support them but it actually looks really cute when she runs as they bounce up and down. We have decided to call her Exhibition as Larra's first daughter we named Halo after one of our favourite bands who have now changed their name to Exhibition.   Mother and baby are both doing fine but I am still in a bit of a state of shock and in serious need of a large G and T.

Note to Darling Daughter, if you want children then please adopt them.

This is a picture of Carrie that Rob requested,  He wanted to see her dry.

Out of the four births we have had so far our girls have produced one boy and three girls and we would really like to keep the same ratio for the rest of the births this year.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Carrie Baby

Finally one of our overdue girls has given up her baby.  I checked Chance and Larra over first thing this morning and thought this was going to be another day with nothing happening on the birthing front.  After I had fed all the animals and topped up their water containers I decided to come back indoors to do some chores here.  As soon as I had started on the kitchen Chance must have decided that it would be a good time to drop her cria with no interference from me.  I looked out of the window and there on the ground was a small wet cria so I ran to the barn to grab a clean towel and teramycin.  Ollie came over to help and did the drying while I tried to keep the flies away.  He sprayed her navel and Chance was quite happy to stand by watching so I took the opportunity to spray her with Naff Off but decided against spraying the cria in case Chance then rejected her.  Chance dropped the placenta almost straight away and I checked it over then picked it up in a carrier bag to go into the incinerator.  It was only when we decided to leave mother and baby alone to bond that we realised that we hadn't even checked what sex it was.  It was another girl.  Chance has already given us 2 females and I love her as she comes over to give me kisses.  I had already said to Si that we should really keep her for life if she produces another girl and he just laughed at the time.  Today when he telephoned from the office he said 'So we're keeping her then'.  I just thought I'd put that in writing in case he ever thinks about selling her.

She looked absolutely nothing when she was still wet but once she had dried out she seemed to double in size.  Her fleece is so dense, she also a lovely cream colour at the moment but I am sure that will soon change over the next few days once she starts to play in the dust/mud baths with the other babies.  Her sire is Lionheart who resides at Wellground Alpaca Stud and I have spent the evening on the internet trying to find a suitable name for her but it appears that Richard the Lionheart had no legitimate children so that idea went out of the window.  The last gig we went to was Jimmy Carr so we have carried on the gig theme and called her Carrie, it is also the name of a song so the music theme continues.

Temple, the darkest one above, was Chance's cria from last year and as soon as she saw the new cria feeding seemed to get a memory jolt and rushed over to join in so we had to put her into another paddock for the afternoon.

Larra went over to have a good look at the new cria and immediately started to hum.  I think she was trying to tell us that she'd have that one rather than go through the birthing process herself but we're hoping that jealousy will prompt her to finally drop her cria tomorrow.  This is another one we're excited about as the sire is Wellground Close Encounter and I will be just as pleased if this is a boy.  We would love a future sire with his bloodline.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Love Me Chase Me

The photographs aren't great quality but they show the essence of Delilah.  She is a little terror.  Her favourite pastime is pouncing on Timothy until he turns and chases her.  She will happily spend hours racing around the paddock.  She is also responsible for our high mobile telephone bill this month.  She is such fun to watch that if one of us sees her doing something we phone the other to look at her.  She really is a delight to have around.

We should have had another couple of babies running around by now but even though the mothers look fit to burst they are not letting go.  Chance's belly is absolutely huge and it is so low now that if she doesn't give birth soon it will be touching the ground.  Larra has been bagged up for over a week and is looking really fed up with it all.  I don't suppose I am helping much by following them around trying to look under their tails to see if anything is happening.  The flies are annoying all of us.  We have spent a fortune the past couple of years on various sprays and potions but nothing seems to work.  The girls aren't keen on being sprayed a couple of times a day and it does seem a waste of time when it isn't keeping the flying pests off them.  If anybody has found anything that does actually work then we would be really grateful for advice.  We even resorted to listerine last year on the advice of a lady in the chemist who uses it on her horses.  If we put any more garlic in their feed they will probably refuse to eat and lets face it, they don't have the sweetest breath at the best of times.

Si is off work this week to get on with more digging and stuff around the farm, I look at it more as community service to pay for his criminal act as described in the previous blog.  He has been busy burying water pipes in preparation for a water supply to the barn and then hopefully there will be some landscaping done near the gate. 

Saturday 10 July 2010

On The Run

 Delilah in her favourite place with her mum

All the pregnant girls queueing up for the mudbath

Well, it's been quite an exciting time here between the normal chores like poo picking, feeding, mowing etc

Yesterday Si was riding around cutting the grass when the only car key fell out of his pocket and got chopped to pieces by the mower.  He then expected Ollie and I to help find the pieces.  We found the plastic bits but the part we needed to start the car had completely disappeared.  This morning Si had to phone Landrover who couriered a blank to our local garage which is about a  three miles away.  He had to walk there once he had the phone call to say it had arrived; he then had to get into Exeter which is 25 miles away to get it cut.  There is a local bus service, it's on Thursday around 10.30am I think.  He managed to hitch a lift into our nearest town which is 5 miles away to get a train to Exeter and then reversed the journey.  He now has to do silly things with the car as the alarm goes off when he uses the key but there is a more complicated thing that has to be done with the key to be able to use it automatically.  We have to stand for 5 minutes after he turns the key in a set pattern in the door before it can be opened.  He'll never be able to remember the set pattern as the following story will show.

I got a telephone call this morning from the local police station asking if we owned a car with a certain registration number.  I said yes even though I don't have a clue what our registration is.  I wasn't too worried as I knew it hadn't been stolen as there wasn't a useable key for it and I could see the car on the drive across the paddocks.  Apparently somebody had driven away from the local garage yesterday without paying for the petrol they had pumped.  Yep, it was Si.  He had filled a can to put in the lawnmower and then just come straight back to use it.  So I am now living with a master criminal.  This seems to be a common occurrence as the policeman was really nice about it and just asked us to pop back to the garage to pay.  I then had to explain why we couldn't, but Si phoned the garage to apologize and paid by card.

Monday 5 July 2010

Oh You Are A Mucky Kid

Well we have waited and Delilah is undoubtedly light fawn, now we know we can register her with BAS. I'm not great at judging cria fleeces this young but I have a feeling this is going to be our best animal not just born here but out of all our alpacas including the imports. A week old and I'm already thinking about her first mating next year to improve still further.  It's a pity she is so dirty but Irene has been making mud baths for her to roll in to keep cool and she has been taking full advantage of it.

The recent weather has been great but it has meant I'm having to refill the water butt from the mains every two days. The grass isn't growing either but the docks are doing just fine but the stems are just flowering and seeding without going to the effort of leaves.

Timothy is really growing now, so much so that he is trying it on with Mimi. She is going down next to the fence with Merlin on the other side so Timothy is jumping on, if only Cooper would show the same interest.  He is more interested in playing with his new little sister.

Monday 28 June 2010

Why, Why, Why ....

We haven't blogged because it gets a bit repetitive reporting that we've been watering the animals to keep them cool and poo picking.  We have been outside until late evening and have been too tired to even speak to each other when we get in.  It has been so long since we have had any rain that all the water butts are empty and we have had to haul the water from the house.  The alpacas have been drinking it faster than we can fill their containers.

We did manage to visit Rosemary and Carl over at Westhill Alpacas a couple of weeks ago and that was fun, we compared knitting and Rosemary gave me a list (I love lists) so I have slowly been working through that when I have the time.  They came to visit yesterday so we actually had a relaxing few hours chatting and planning.

Finally, today we can announce we have a cria.  We have been getting jealous reading about everybody else's crias but finally we have had our second birth.  Cricket (one of our star girls with Ruffo and Hemingway in her background) gave birth to a female cria with the most amazing blood line.  Her sire is Samson and we don't know what Rob and Les at Wellground have been putting in the water this year but he does seem to be throwing females after a run on males last year. No name has been decided for definite yet but given her sire it may be Delilah. She may be light fawn or it could just be that she was quick to the dust bath after her first couple of feeds. She was also bang on her due date at 335 days, if only they were all that reliable.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

The Course of True Love Never Runs Smooth

I know, I know. It's been a while since we blogged.

We've been rushed off our feet recently. We played host to the Westhill boys for the rest of the shearing last weekend and I have to say they have done a cracking job, especially considering they are relatively new to it. The blankets that are to go to the GWR fleece show in September hav been bagged up carefully ready to take to Wellground. We are hoping to go in person but we have checked and we have two births due that day and three the week before. At the same time we have taken some samples for analysis, this is to help us with our breeding program.

We have been spending the long days and nights tackling the docks and buttercups with a combination of Grazon 90 and the ride-on mower. Some nights only finishing when the light completely goes at around 10pm. However we seem to have particularly sneaky buttercups that are chosing to stay just half an inch tall to avoid the chop.

All the alpacas seem well and the pregnant females are growing nicely.  Cricket is the first due to birth at the end of the month and we actually watched her cria moving this evening, it looked as if it was rolling over the way her stomach moved.  We are still having no luck with Cooper, he probably isn't ready yet but we keep introducing him to Mimi and they just take one look at each other then carry on grazing.  How many meals out together are this pair going to have before they get down to business?

The vegetable beds are also coming on a treat, we just need to remember what we've planted, I suppose we'll find out in a few months.

Sunday 23 May 2010

Spa Day

The young master shows the older apprentice what to do

We are so grateful to Rosemary of Westhill Alpacas for lending us her two men today. They arrived this morning, set up all their equipment and set to giving our alpacas the full treatment. They have been coiffured, pedicured along with dental treatment and injections. It has been really hot here today and we (well, when I say we I really mean them) managed to do it in the shade in the barn which had a nice cool breeze blowing through it. I don't think Carl and Sam noticed though because they were so busy.

The past couple of days seem to have rushed by, I think the time is vanishing because it seems to be spent filling up water containers for the animals and then their paddling pools too. Now that all the boys have been sheared they will feel a lot cooler and will drink less water. When they were put back in their paddocks they didn't stay together as a herd, they were spread all over the paddock; I think that they didn't recognize each other so were a bit wary. As they have been injected and also had their preventative liver fluke treatment they will have to be moved onto clean pasture tomorrow and then poo samples collected to take to the vet for analysis.

Thursday 20 May 2010

You're A Big Boy Now

Hasn't Timothy grown?

Timothy with his two babysitters, Mimi and Temple.

We're hoping to solve the Dock problem by training Sweetheart to eat them

Cricket gave us a bit of a scare this morning. She seemed to be taking herself off on her own and then spending a lot of time at the poo pile. She's not due until late June so we have been watching her closely all day. We even spent some time lying on the ground in the paddock trying to see her udders and then following her around trying to check out her back end whenever she lifted her tail. No clues at all so we decided that she must just have been hot and put out a paddling pool full of water for her to cool down. She totally ignored this and kept rolling in the dust bath but by this evening she had settled down completely but it means getting up at first light tomorrow just in case.

Si topped one of the paddocks that he had sprayed last week and we are pleased to notice that all the docks and buttercups he has sprayed over the past few days have now started to wilt. Sweetheart has been eating the docks in his paddock but he's only little and I think they are growing much faster than he'd ever be able to digest them but at least he's trying to help. We enquired about Lime when we were last at Mole Valley and are going to start doing that to the paddocks when we have more chance of rain. We are hoping that if we try to neutralize the PH of the soil it may help to combat the creeping buttercups. In some of the paddocks it looks as though there are more buttercups than grass so that means we'll have to reseed too.

We have shearing on Saturday so I thought I would make a contribution to animal welfare this evening and have trimmed Tilly so that she will be cooler too. I think I have overdone it slightly as her head now looks huge in comparison to her body. I will have to neaten her up tomorrow night with the clippers and then I have some lovely scented dog shampoo to bath her in. She will probably only stay clean for the evening as she loves to roll in alpaca poo. She's definitely no lady.