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.