Our Website: www.ashdalealpacas.com

Saturday 27 February 2010

Quads and quads

Cherrybomb managed to get to the fresh hay first

Si took Ollie to Quadworld in Cullompton this morning to race around on a quad bike. If the fun can be measured by the amount of mud that he was wearing when he got back then he had a great time. While they were there I worked out my quads by pushing the wheelbarrow full of hay round all the paddocks topping up the bags. You can see Cherrybomb with her younger sister, Temple, next to her. Their mum, Chance, wasn't going to let them get between her and the fresh hay so just stuck her head over.

When Si got back he came out and started to hang more gates, we've also been planning where the rest of the paddocks are going to go. We can't agree so are going to mark them out tomorrow morning with electric wire posts. I can always move them again when he's doing hard sums on Monday.

(No doubt she will as well, but I'll be the one working with the contractor. We'll see who has the last laugh. Ed)

Thursday 25 February 2010

Rain, Rain Go Away

It feels as though the only time we can get anything done is first thing in the morning. We seem to get a couple of dry hours and then the rain starts about 10. I feel terrible moaning about it when poor Jayne of Zanzibar Alpacas is snowed in again, at least we can get out and about.

As we are limited to what we can do we have decided to get all the running around done over the next week or so. We have been looking for a suri stud to use on Ms Humphreys and we saw an absolutely super rose grey one on the internet so we are going over to check him out next week. We are also going to pay a visit to Head Office for a lesson on taking fleece samples.

I have been using a super Yahoo Group started by Dianne Summers, a lot of you will know her from the bTB Awareness Meetings. It is full of tips on keeping alpacas and their welfare. She has given me permission to put a link on here http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/cornwallalg. It is well worth joining.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Super Furry Animals

Yesterday it poured all day. I was determined it wasn't going to stop me from doing the paddock cleaning and when the rain lightened I wrapped myself up and went out. As soon as I was at the farthest from the house the heavens really decided to open. I carried on but then really struggled to push the wheelbarrow back to the house. When is this rain going to go away? No more work can be done on the barn until the swimming pool goes. We can't get any machinery here.

We spent yesterday evening finishing off getting the fleeces ready for the mill. I had telephoned the lady there and she was really helpful. I was practically going through them with a magnifying glass looking for any small specs of vegitation until I suddenly thought that it couldn't be done so thoroughly if it was a load of sheep fleeces. She then said that we didn't have to go that far so we are now just waiting for the bags to arrive to send them off to her. She talked me through the process on the phone. Now I just want them back to see what they turn out like. I have been practising my knitting in preparation. There are sparks flying off the needles. Si was sent to work with a fleece in his ear. It really does get everywhere, even the dogs were covered in it.

Today started off with good weather, I was out paddock cleaning before 8am and I thought I would try to get some pictures of the alpacas later in the day when they had dried out a bit. Not a hope. I was watching the local weather forecast while I had a bite of lunch and listened to the man telling me about how sunny it was in the southwest. I had to turn the TV up though as the sound of the rain on the roof was louder than him. The rain didn't let up until about 6pm. I hope it is fine tomorrow as I have all kinds of jobs planned outside. Still, I did manage to dye my hair though so I am back to being a 'natural' blonde until the roots grow through again.

Monday 22 February 2010

Black or White

Another bad day for weather, it has been blowing a gale, freezing cold and wet. I had told Si that I was going to take loads of shots of the alpacas today to get some practice in with the camera. When he got home he asked how many I had taken. None. They were so muddy and wet that they wouldn't have looked their best anyway.

I braved the paddock cleaning this afternoon when I couldn't put it off any longer. After the evening feed I came in and decided to sort the fleeces. I got so carried away that I have only just finished for the evening. I really shouldn't have sorted the white fleeces whilst wearing a black jumper but this is my first time at doing it. I've also been checking out knitting patterns. Debbie's knitwear has really whetted my appetite and I can't wait to get my fibre to the mill.

Only a short blog as I need to get in the bath to try to get the bits of grass and fleece out of my hair.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Falling in Love Again

Kisses for Lily

I had an absolutely fantastic day yesterday. We went over to Westhill Alpacas for our first visit and became completely besotted by Lily, a suri cria. She comes across for cuddles, I know it looks as though I am strangling her but I really wasn't. She is so pretty, so loveable, so everything. She has beautiful tight ringlets with a dazzling sheen. Her best friend, at the moment, I am working on this, is Emily. Emily is a huayaca and has a lovely crimp. We then examined Wellground Lina's fleece, it really is impressive, but she wasn't keen on strangers ruffling through it and let fly with the slimey green stuff. She may be a stunning alpaca but her aim leaves a lot to be desired. I was a sitting target and she still missed me. Maybe I should bring her over here and let her take lessons off Ms Humphreys.

We retired to the house and it has views to die for but unfortunately you can't see the alpacas. They are the other side of the house, across a road and hidden behind a high bank. I think I'd rather forgo the views and be able to see the animals, especially at birthing time. Rosemary put the kettle on and brought out two tins of homemade cakes (sorry for eating so many) and we sat in front of the log burner for coffee...........wonderful. We then went back across to see the animals and get a few shots with the cameras. Carl took one of me from behind and it is published on Rosemary's blog there is a link on this page (Westhill Alpacas..it's really witty and makes me laugh out loud). I now have a long list of things to do............dye hair, manicure, lose weight.........I told Si that the camera puts at least 10lbs on you and he asked just how many cameras had I eaten.

We dashed back home, dropped off Ollie and then headed straight to Exeter for the TB Awareness Meeting. Gina Bromage gave a presentation and we left feeling really positive and armed with lots of information that should keep our alpacas safe. I finally met Dianne Summers and these meetings probably wouldn't be taking place if it weren't for her and Gina, they have worked really hard with Mike Birch to enable them to take place. They have worked so hard on behalf of the alpaca industry. If you haven't attended one yet they are really worth the effort. An added bonus was that I met up with one of my gorgeous men and had another hug.

Having such a lovely day yesterday meant that there were two days poo to clean today, we were all ready to do injections and then the rain started so that has been put off for another day.

Friday 19 February 2010

Where Did You Get That Hat?

Ms Humphrey deciding if the camera is edible

Wellground Juno and Hemiccoyo Cricket of Cambridge

I've spent the day trying to fill our new moat with stones, it's been really cold even though the sun has been shining most of the day. I spent a lot of time trying to take photos too but the camera seems to take a shot a few seconds after I've pressed the button and the animals have usually moved away. Si comes home and loads them onto the computer to edit and I am lucky if I have two useable shots out of about twenty.

We have been discussing which alpacas to put up for sale and every time Si suggests one Ollie and I say 'Ah, you can't sell that one'. It's like choosing which child to put up for sale. We have finally settled on selling some of the boys so they will have to go onto Alpaca Seller soon.

I also searched the paddocks for a hat that I had lost. I knew I had put it in my pocket when I got too hot doing the paddock cleaning and it wasn't there next time I wanted to go out. I searched the house but decided it must have fallen out. There was no sign of it anywhere so I decided it must have blown away. I came in for coffee and looked over at my jacket (I had just thrown it over the back of a dining chair) and there was my hat. I had put my hood up when we had a rain shower and my hat was still sitting in the hood.

We are really looking forward to visiting another alpaca breeder tomorrow so I cleaned my wellies and then scrubbed them with a weak bleach solution. Trying to clean the soles was fun, I had to scrape the mud out with a matchstick. We have heavy clay soil and it really clogs up the thread. Si has still got his to do and he says that he will do the morning feeds in a pair of trainers. That is something I need to watch, I don't think he realises just how muddy it is near the top paddocks. We're taking bio-security seriously now and you can't be too careful. The wellies are going straight into carrier bags and won't come back out again until we are on their farm.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Mole Valley Comes Up Trumps Again.......

We had a telephone call from Mole Valley Farmers this morning to tell us that the spring bolts that they had ordered for us were in. When we said that we couldn't get in today they said they would put them in the post for us. How's that for service? We should be able to lock some more gates properly now instead of jamming them closed with fence posts.

We now have a swimming pool and moat after all the rain. Si had used the digger to dig out a path to our front door but before he could fill it in with hardcore the rain filled it for him. The hole for the barn now looks like a very muddy swimming pool.

We haven't really known what to do with ourselves today with the non-stop rain. We couldn't even give the alpacas their A,D and E a couple of days early because we won't inject them when their coats are soaked. We've caught up with friends on the 'phone and arranged to see people and then decided to take library books back but when we got there the door was locked. I looked through the window and it was filled with children and marching roman soldiers. So that is obviously what the mum's do with their kids down here. Lock them in a large room with soldiers to babysit them. What do they feed their kids that they warrant armed guards? I thought Si had been lacing my coffee with something and obviously I didn't have my camera with me.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Never Ending Story

Cooper (future stud????)
Another day of doing the same old thing. Si using the digger to make the hole even bigger. It's looking huge now and started to fill with water this afternoon when the rain came down really heavily. He has said that it is now big enough, which is just as well as he has to go and do hard sums tomorrow.

Ollie and I moved more posts down from the old paddocks and then I got on with the paddock cleaning. I remembered to put the camera in my pocket today and poor Cooper was getting really fed up of me trying to get a decent shot of him. This was my best effort. I've got loads of him walking away so I now know how good Rob is at photography. Si says it doesn't show him at his best but after all the hard work it's getting published on here.

I made pancakes tonight but Si was feeling ill and so couldn't eat any. Ollie managed four and has asked if we can have them again this week.

Monday 15 February 2010

Busy Doing Nothing

The weather has definitely taken a turn for the better today. I've even been able to shed a layer of clothing. The alpacas are still getting through a lot of hay though and need topping up every day.

The ground was dry so I took the opportunity to just sit and enjoy the animals, I haven't been able to do that in quite a while. I thought I would take a few shots of them looking lovely and fluffy again but when I put my hand in my pocket I realised that I had forgotten to put the camera back in after I had downloaded the picture of Chance yesterday.

When I decided that I had wasted enough time I got to work moving fence posts that we had taken out down towards the gate ready to get rid of. That is heavy work and I didn't get as much done as I wanted but never mind, there's always another day.

Sunday 14 February 2010

The Grass is Always Greener

Wherever we put Chance she always wants the grass in the next paddock.

We had a quality afternoon in the company of the comedian John Bishop. He was appearing in Bristol and even though it meant a two hour drive there we decided that it was worth it, and it was. He was absolutely hilarious and the best part was that when Si went to collect the car after the show John came out and Ollie and I were chatting to him for quite a while.

When we got back I checked the blogs and there was some really exciting news on Wellground's blog, www.wellground.com. We had decided not to take any animals to shows this year because of the danger of contracting bTB so the news on Robs Blog means that we can take our fleeces to a new show. A really innovative idea and should be a really good day out.

The other good news is that our grass has started to grow. I thought I was imagining it but when I was chatting to Rosemary the other day she said that hers was too, so there it is. It is official. We have decided. Spring has sprung.

Friday 12 February 2010

Hole in the Ground

Tilly wants a go on the digger

Even Tilly knows that nagging works

We've had computer problems so have been unable to post for some time but that doesn't mean we haven't been getting on with things around here.

Our planning permission came through at the end of May last year and it took so long to get a price for the barn and then the awful weather held us back. Things are progressing now and Si has been digging a huge hole for the barn to go into.

One thing I have discovered is that anything we need from now on to do with the farm should be arranged through Mole Valley Farmers. All I have to do is tell them what I need and then they ring round for me to get the best prices, so I have a personal shopper. I've always wanted one of those but I did think it would be in John Lewis or somewhere similar. Never mind, you can't have everything!!!!!!!!!!!!

We've also been out rather a lot of an evening this week and are grateful to have an evening in. On Thursday we attended a talk about 'innoculations in animals' given by a vet who is in practice with Gina Bromage. We were amazed to find out that there are no medications licensed for goats. Last night we went to have drinks with people who are leaving the area and we even managed to bring David Cassidy into the conversation. Si just tutted and rolled his eyes.