Our Website: www.ashdalealpacas.com

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.