Our Website: www.ashdalealpacas.com

Friday 30 April 2010

Now You See It .............................

Another really busy day. We had an early start when a lorry arrived just as Si was going off to do his hard sums. It had the roof for the barn on it. I came back in to get the cheque book thinking that I had to pay him but when I got back outside he had driven off, apparently he couldn't get through the gate. As we've had tractors, caravans, park homes, delivery lorries all before I don't really see what the problem was maybe we will find out next week if anybody actually speaks to me.

Another man arrived later with another lorry, he managed to drive straight through the gate with no problem. It was another load of timber, he set to and unloaded on his own while his dog ran around. Si has just told me that they are purlings, he thinks. He must have picked that word up at Mole Valley sometime or listening to my gorgeous boys as he probably doesn't really know what they are. Anyway, they are really long pieces of 3x2, ok that is a guess too.

Hopefully this barn will be up before winter is here again. I have so much clutter to get stored in it.

The ground has finally got soft enough to rake slightly so I have taken advantage and scattered some grass seed over all the bare patches. Maybe over the weekend I can get my soil samples collected and ready to send off.

Barney seems to be getting better, the lump on his face is now going down, there was hardly any pus in there today. We will have another look in the morning when we bathe it again but he has finished his antibiotics now.

Sweetheart (pygmy goat) has started to grow one of his horns again so we may have to contact the vet to come out to cauterize it. We are hoping that the rain stays off for a while so that we can try Ms Humphreys with a male. I am keeping my fingers crossed that she spits at Merlin, I really can't wait for her to produce a cria from Thunder so I need her to be pregnant from the first mating. Oh, 11 months is such a long time to wait.

We've just remembered that we still have to photocopy our entries to the GWR Alpaca Fleece and Fibre Show to get in the post tomorrow. Ha, Si is now doing it, it's only taken about 4 mentions of it tonight. I've been far too busy knitting to do it.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Mole Valley personal shopper comes through

It's been a busy day here today. Machinery arrived on Tuesday and yesterday saw a delivery of posts all for the new barn. Today the pieces were being put together, thankfully the guy wasn't put off by a bit of rain as it started shortly after he arrived. Hopefully the rain won't get too bad and make it impossible to work on the ground.

Meanwhile we have had to keep a close eye on one of the wethers. He seems to have banged his face on something a few days ago and ended up with quite a large lump on the bridge of his nose, it got infected and we are now treating with antibiotics and cleaning out the infection, hopefully it'll clear up in a few days.

Mole Valley called today too, our alpaca hurdles arrived so they'll be arriving early next week along with more gates and the new garden furniture.

Monday 19 April 2010

This Is Ground Control...........

Just received a text from OD saying "Mummy, you haven't blogged for a week". It's years since she has called me Mummy so I'll probably get another text tomorrow asking for some money to be put in her bank account.

The reason I haven't blogged is that we have been so busy and not coming back indoors until about 9pm so by the time we have made a meal we are just about ready for bed. This weather is brilliant for getting things done around here. We have had all the scalpings sitting on the drive for almost a week now and the digger will be here in the morning so that they can be spread on the extended drive to the barn. All the alpaca fencing is now finished and all we have left to do is make a play area for the pygmy goats complete with some climbing equipment for them to clamber on and a new area for the kune kune pigs complete with a paved area so that they can be fed as hygenically as possible.

The grass is growing really well now and the alpacas are hardly touching their hay. This is a shame as last Wednesday we attended a talk given by Josephine Scamell of Ground Level Nutrition. It was a really informative evening which was at the invitation of our Vet. We were told about the importance of soil testing for mineral content and on how to change things so that the alpacas can get as many of the minerals that they need for healthy growth from their grazing and forage. As soon as we have had some rain to soften the ground we will be taking soil samples to send off. Overall it was an evening well spent, especially as they also fed us (twice in Si's case).

The alpacas are all healthy and enjoying the occasional dust bath and Timothy is still charging around everywhere. I wish we had some more births due soon, it seems such a long time until July and I am feeling envious of the talk from other breeders who are due some later this month.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Love Is In The Air

This morning Ms Humphreys had a gentleman caller; he arrived with Peter and Carol Watt from Ashton Lane Alpacas. We had planned to have coffee when they arrived but as soon as Thunder saw Ms Humphreys he couldn't wait to get started so our drinks had to wait. He is an absolutely stunning looking stud male and I can't wait to see what this mating produces. I'm hoping that Cooper has learned something from him ready for his next date with Mimi.

Si has just about finished all the fencing now and was still out there at 9pm taking advantage of the light nights. The new drive has also been worked on today and we have 40 ton of scalpings arriving sometime on Thursday which will have to be spread on the surface. The docks that he sprayed in a couple of paddocks have now wilted so time will have to be made to top them but I don't know when we'll be able to find the time.

Sunday 11 April 2010

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink

The title has nothing to do with the Grand National, although I did manage to pick the winner for the first time in the 20 years I've been betting on it and at odds of 22-1.

No, this is about taking Cooper for his first "introduction" to Mimi, as you can see the other young boys wanted to follow. For all his show in front of the other boys he was a complete wuss on his own with a female but it is probably a bit early for him yet.

When he got in to the catchpen with her he had one sniff and she turned and spat at him, which was a worry as normally you can bank on her to react like (how to put this politely) a lady of questionable reputation. We hoped it was just first date jitters so we brought down Merlin, to check Mimi and also to educate Cooper on what to do. Sure enough he got her straight on the ground. Poor Merlin was just dragged off and put back in his own paddock. Mimi has obviously been watching 'Sex and the City' and is going to stick to the 'third date rule'. We left Cooper and Mimi together for a couple of hours to see if anything would happen with us out of the way. The pair of them grazed contentedly together so I am looking on it as a first date with a meal out. We came in and just watched through the window; Si kept saying "just 'do' her will you", see, romance is well and truly alive and living in Devon.

We made another trip to Mole Valley yesterday and have ordered another four field gates and some alpaca hurdles. Whenever we got there we usually have to ask Dawn for advice about something and she is really helpful and never laughs if some of our questions may seem stupid to her. We were chatting as she took our order and I mentioned that I loved a really sturdy garden set they had outside but had nowhere to put it yet. I don't know how she did it but a few minutes later we came out knowing that the garden set is going to be delivered in a few weeks with the alpaca hurdles. Every store should have a salewoman like her, she appears to know where everything is kept and if they don't have something in stock she knows where to get it and when it will be in. So that's April and May's salary spent.

Friday 9 April 2010

Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be David Bailey

 Halo looking straight at the camera when I was trying to get her in profile

Every time I tried to take a snap of Temple she put her head down to graze

Since the start of this glorious weather I have been trying to take photos of the alpacas for our brochures.  I have followed them around paddocks, sat and waited but everytime I lift the camera they start to graze and it is almost impossible to get shots of them standing up properly.  Laura and I went to the top paddock yesterday because I wanted individual shots of all the pregnant females, we went into the paddock and they all went to the gate and queued to get out.  This photography game isn't as easy as it looks.

We have had another busy few days, Si has sprayed the docks, harrowed, we've moved the pregnant girls into a fresh paddock, doing more work on the fencing all at the same time as he has been doing hard sums in the office.

We were really pleased when we moved the girls, we had to take them past Cooper who we are hoping to use as a stud.  He went crazy trying to get to the girls through the fence so we have decided to try him with Mimi this weekend and will just have to hope that she will be gentle with him.

Last night we went to a talk on countryside management, it was really informative and afterwards we went late night shopping with Laura.  Si sat in the car park to listen to the football match along with a lot of other men doing the same thing.  The supermarket was filled with women on their own and as the men were outside we all took the opportunity to buy loads of pretty things.  Si turned up just as we were paying and couldn't believe how much we had managed to spend and have so little food to show for it.  Still, it makes a change from buying stakes, animal feed and fencing.  Laura has gone home today and I am missing her already, I can actually hear the tv but we have spoken on the phone twice already.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

I'm So Tired

Title is about Si, he's been snoring on the sofa for the past half hour.  He sat down turned the channel over on the tv and then fell asleep.  There was actually a programme on the other side that I wanted to watch but never mind.  He's been working really hard today on the fencing.  The top rails and wire have all been fitted and with a bit of luck he should be able to get a vehicle up there over the weekend to get the stock fencing done.  The ground doesn't seem to be draining very fast and we now have rain again, albeit very fine.

Laura crawled out of bed around lunchtime today, well, she is a student.  She has got a 3,000 word assignment to do for Uni while she is here and she seems to have been working really hard on it this afternoon and evening.  She is obviously sending it to her tutor via text, about ten words at a time as the mobile hasn't left her hand all day and I know how close the deadline for this work is.  She has taken the occasional break from all this hard work by checking her 'facebook' status and talking on the phone.

When we visited my gorgeous boys yesterday they very kindly gave us a joint of pork which we had for dinner this evening.  It was lovely but now I feel guilty that I have eaten one of Bacardi or Cokes siblings.  If I see Si heading outside with the jar of apple sauce I will start to panic.

Ms Humphreys is obviously feeling a lot better so her mating has been organized.  We decided to give her body a rest after the retained placenta and the subsequent treatment and medications.  She will be mated next Tuesday and photographs will be taken of her new beau.

I have been busy knitting again and Si noticed that I was doing the final rib on the snood I was making and asked if I should have changed to smaller needles.  Carl (Rosemary's husband) and Si are brilliant theoretical knitters and they are going to have to be very careful or they will find that they actually have to make a garment or two.  I'm not sure that Rosemary could get Carl to do it though as he has now modelled two items for her which means that he is now a Supermodel and won't get out of bed for less that £10,000.  When Rosemary and I were having a moan the other week about poo picking being a never ending chore and saying that a woman's work is never done Si reckoned we should organize our time better.

His latest sexist comment was, on hearing that four female astronauts were on the space shuttle heading towards the International Space Station, 'They'll have to take a man to give them directions'. 

Monday 5 April 2010

Breaker One-Nine... This here's The Duck again...

DD arrived yesterday, our policy on children is one in, one out so Ollie was packed off to Liverpool this morning. It was straight then to meet Carl, Rosemary and Sam of Westhill Alpacas at a car park in Exeter and escort them in convoy to M&M Alpacas. Stood in the car park comparing knitting between two cars must have looked like a big drugs deal. If only the drive had been smooth sailing, they managed to get ahead of us but took a wrong turn, we tried to direct them over the phone but it was too late, it took a bit of manouvering to get back on the right track.

Had we gone straight there we may have been in time to see M&M's latest birth a lovely light fawn girl had just arrived. We watched the baby and chatted for a while before going up to see our own alpacas that currently reside there. Not long now till we can have them over here. It was then over to have a nose at the goats including the two new babies. We also had a look at their genuine Easter chicks just a day old. A quick coffee and it was time to hit the road again.

This is the first time DD has been down since October so we have a christmas tree up and celebrating both Easter and Christmas. A sure fire way to overdose on chocolate.

Friday 2 April 2010

Weather With You....................

...............and us.  We've had sunshine, snow, hail, gale force winds, mist and rain all in the past two days.  Everytime Si books time off work to get some work done around here we get snow, I have warned Jayne at Zanzibar Alpacas that he is thinking of taking more time off in July so she can expect more snow in the middle of summer.  The ground had dried out nicely after winter but we have mud baths for the alpacas again now but the forecast is for better weather over the next few days.

Does anybody make wellies for alpacas?

Ollie was worried that the hailstones would hurt Timothy but they didn't seem to bother him, nothing is going to stop him from charging around the paddock, not even another alpaca standing in his way.  He charges into the side of Mimi all the time and she doesn't take any notice but I think that is because she has got used to it by now.

The grass is growing pretty well now with all the rain and the animals have really cut back on the amount of hay they are getting through.  We did want to get some spit offs done this past week but have decided to wait until next week for the drier weather.  As we haven't been able to get the car up to where the new paddocks are going we haven't been able to get the fencing done that we wanted.  It's pretty frustrating as the posts are all in waiting.  I still haven't been able to start planting out my strawberry plants because the area I want to use as a veg and fruit garden is heavy clay mud which now has small ponds all over it and I can't risk compressing it any further or it will dry hard and crack.